Seminarians

St. Victor's Seminary Farm

Project Code: GHPT-1200032 | Project Location: Tamale Archdiocese, Ghana

St. Victor’s Seminary Agribusiness Project gives Seminarians practical training in sustainable income generating Agribusinesses through agricultural ventures such as a piggery, poultry pens, rabbit keeping, mushroom farming, crop and vegetable farming, growing of various fruits, and marketing them for income.

The aim is to help the Seminary generate income to run programs, especially in the era of diminishing external support and subsidies from Rome. It is also aimed at preparing the future priests to become active agents of progress and transformation in the lives of the people they will be ministering to in the future.

The seminarians will gain practical skills and knowledge and as a result will be able to take care of themselves and their communities later as priests transferring skills to their parishioners. They will not be overdependent on their parishioners for their upkeep in the future. They will also use the skills learnt to assist the youth in their parishes – by helping them engage in self-employed agribusinesses and thus combat the diminishing rural-urban migration of the youth caused by unemployment and poverty in the rural areas.

Farmhouse

Farmhouse containing storage space for maize and other food for animals.

Achievements so far

The Agribusiness Project is gaining its foundation gradually. Each seminarian receives training in three areas: agricultural skills, business management, and budgeting.

So far, the Project has met a variety of objectives, including:

  • Construction of the poultry house and piggery - which are now stocked with birds and pigs respectively.
  • Completion of the fence wall around the poultry farm area for rearing of local breed fowls and guinea fowls.
  • Construction of the mushroom farm has commenced.
  • A site for the rabbitry has been allocated for construction.
  • Completion of the farmhouse which consists of two storage rooms with all the harvested maize in one and all of the food for animals in the other.
  • A motorbike has been purchased and two boreholes have been dug and are now in use.
  • Manure from the poultry and piggery, serve as natural fertilizer for crop and vegetable farming, reducing the need for chemical fertilizer on the seminary farm.
  • The farm invites students from the surrounding communities on holidays for hired labour providing employment opportunities for youth in the area.
  • For the 2018/2019 farming season, about fifteen acres of maize farm was cultivated, harvested in October, threshed and now being winnowed, after which it will be bagged. Vegetables were also cultivated and harvested during the raining season and plans are underway to make a dry season vegetable garden.

Chickens

Chickens enjoying their pen

Mr Gilbert farm manager Sister Sillo Teresa accounts manager Msgr Thomas

Mr Gilbert (farm manager), Sister Sillo Teresa (accounts manager) & Monsignor Thomas (project director).

Animals stocked & sale profits

At the moment the current poultry are producing around eight crates of eggs per day. Each crate is worth around 20 to 30 cedi (AUD 7.50) depending on market price. The seminary is making around roughly 1500 cedi (just under AUD 400) per month on the sale of eggs alone. The Seminary also uses four crates of eggs per week to feed staff and seminarians.

  1. Chickens
    500
  2. Guinea fowl
    360
  3. Sheep
    36

Stories from the ground

Daniel Mkwam

“I am in my 4th year at St Victor’s. I come from Nigeria and decided to join the seminary after hearing a call from God to serve the Church. I am enjoying my training at the farm as both my parents are farmers and I would help them on the farm after school as a child. I have learned many new techniques and skills, especially how to rear and care for poultry.”

Joseph Nweyada

“In my little rural parish, many of the young people turn to run to the south in search of greener pastures. Through this Agrobusiness project in the Seminary, I can very much imagine some ways and means by which we could retain these youth in the parish by introducing them to simple agrobusiness ventures that will keep them engaged and they will also earn good income from it to support the Church’s activities.”

Pascal Tonye

“During my Pastoral year, I came to appreciate the importance of acquiring some basic skills in some of the agricultural activities practiced in this part of the country. I plan to discuss with my current Parish priest, if we can create a small piggery to raise funds to support our programs. I know it will work well, for now I have acquired more skill on how to keep a productive piggery.”

Solomon Lieber

“In most of the parishes the majority are youth, most of whom are unemployed. I have met university graduates in my parish who have no jobs, and they only think of office jobs when you talk about employment with them. The training in these agribusiness ventures in the seminary can allow me to help broaden the horizons of these unemployed youth to include ventures like the ones we have embarked upon in the seminary.”

Challenges & Impact of COVID-19

St. Victors has been successful in adapting to a variety of challenges and appears in good stead for the future.
Due to limited financial yield, the project management team have decided to use both local and non-local breeds of fowls. Local fowls take longer to grow, which leads to an overall lower production of eggs and revenue. The team also decided to dig two boreholes instead of one as the first produced a very low yield.

Initially the project saw a high mortality rate of the local Guinea fowls, this led them to seek expert help. Samples of both dead guinea fowls and a few live ones were sent to a Veterinary College at Pon-Tamale College for examination and their recommendation was taken seriously.

The mushroom farm and rabbit pen were expected to be completed by April however COVID-19 restrictions have delayed this.

Since March, Monsignor Thomas, Project Director and Rector at St Victors, has been stuck in Rome due to COVID-19. He was originally attending a seminar for Rectors but has remained there due to the cancellation of flights to Ghana. He hopes to return home soon and focus his efforts on completing the project implementation. Seminarians have also been sent home during this time as the seminary remains in lockdown. They will await government and Church leaders’ instructions before they select a date for reopening. For the time being the farm is being looked after by Gilbert (farm manager) and Sister Sillo Teresa.

Pigs

Conclusion

The project has begun very well and although there have been some challenges, it is clear that all objectives will be met. The project will return to full capability after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and once Msgr Thomas returns from Rome.

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