“ Without the SAFE program, I would never have had the opportunity to be where I am today”
The Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE)integrates African universities and colleges into the agricultural development process, to ensure that extension staff are equipped to lead the transformation of agriculture along the value chain.Joseph Kwesi Sarpong, a Ghanaian national, was among the first intake of SAFE students when the program launched in 1993.
“There were 25 of us in total when we graduated in 1996,”Joseph explains. “After graduating, I went back to Kwadaso to spearhead the Agricultural Extension diploma program, and served as a SAFE coordinator until I was transferred to
the Human Resources Directorate at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, in Accra. There, I was able to recruit more students for the SAFE program at the University of Cape Coast.” SAFE, now operating in nine African countries and 26 universities, has graduated more than 6,000 mid-career extension agents.
Joseph is now the national coordinator at the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), a project run by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit(GIZ), a German development agency supporting international
development cooperation. “The SAFE program has heavily impacted on my professional development”, says Joseph.“If I had not had the opportunity to be trained, I would not have been a diploma student, and would never have had the opportunity to be where I am today and who I am today. The content of the program was highly valuable as it encouraged the concept of critical thinking and the development of
management skills. I’ve also had the opportunity to attend several courses in Germany, Liberia, and Sierra Leone based on the competencies I acquired from the SAFE program.”
Speaking about the impact of the program, Joseph adds: “The SAFE program is very important for the development of extension delivery in Africa. Currently in Ghana, we have the Directorate of Agricultural Extension which is essentially a
product of SAFE. It has changed the landscape of extension staffing. The director of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) is also a SAFE graduate.
“This is a program which has really improved the landscape of the extension delivery in Ghana. Extension officers can now relate to farmers and they can communicate effective extension results from the research centers.”