Ghana-based firm gets Harvard, MIT support to set up agribusiness knowledge center
A Ghana-based private commercial farming company, Africa Atlantic has teamed-up with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Science, Technology and Globalization Project at the Harvard Kennedy School to establish an agribusiness training center in Ghana.
The centre will be located at the Afram Plains on Africa Atlantic’s 25,927 acre (10,497 ha) site on the shoreline of the Lake Volta.
The announcement was made February 28, 2013 by Africa Atlantic Chairman, Issa Baluch Baluch, along with MIT Associate Provost, Professor Wesley Harris, and Africa Atlantic CEO, Jon Vandenheuvel, at the Global AgInvesting’s Middle East Conference in Abu Dhabi.
When completed, the agribusiness knowledge center will facilitate research and industry training of farmers as entrepreneurs as well as assist the innovation in sustainable economic, environmental and social impact designs.
“We are pleased with the cooperation we have received from the two institutions and look forward to working with their students and faculty,” said Issa Baluch who is also a Senior Fellow of the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University.
Officials say Africa Atlantic will provide land and facilities while MIT will focus on engineering and management sciences, and the Science Technology and Globalization Project at Harvard Kennedy School will focus on innovative public policy frameworks and strategies.
The center is also expected to include the establishment of a multi-purpose, multi-stakeholder training facility and campus co-located on the Lake Volta with Africa Atlantic’s commercial grain production farm.
“This partnership is truly innovative in its focus on agribusiness education and plans to engage students from a diversity of universities. We hope that it will serve as a model for on-farm training across Africa,” said Harvard’s Professor Calestous Juma.
Prof. Juma added “The Agribusiness Knowledge Center will help create African farming entrepreneurs and will serve as a catalyst for greater coordination of practitioners, along with leaders from government and civil society, and private investors, to share ideas, transfer knowledge, and build the capacity of Africans to compete effectively and efficiently in the global marketplace.”
Africa Atlantic says plans to host training and executive education programmes are already underway, with colleges, universities, and multinational companies expressing interest in using the new facilities to conduct programming.
It indicated that topic-driven programming will be organized at the Center, including conferences and seminars on Women in Agribusiness, Agribusiness Higher Education, Environmental and Social Sustainability, Law and Public Policy, Banking and Finance, Mechanization, Irrigation, Transport and Logistics, and other critical topics.
By Ekow Quandzie