An Indian company, Avnash Industries Ghana limited, has trained 120 graduates in Agric Technology to generate innovative ideas to scale-up rice production in the Northern Region.
The initiative is also to make Ghana more self-sufficient as well as to develop the practical skills of the students and introduce them to the opportunities in the Agric sector.
According to Avnash, the initiative is in line with its core values of creating more employment opportunities, and helping the evolution of the industrial sector.
The about 120 students drawn from the University for Development Studies (UDS) and Tamale Technical University (TTU) are grouped according to the courses they offer, and were trained for a six-month period.
Avnash calls itself Ghana’s foremost agribusiness company which is run jointly with Kumasi Hive, Ghana’s first hardware-focused innovation hub.
As part of the programme, six teams of students from UDS and TTU were selected to go through to the final stage of the Avnash Agric Technology Hackathon, in which they receive funding to build a working prototype of their innovation for the rice supply chain.
Following training in Design Thinking, the participants formed teams and started to work on solutions to particular challenges that interested them.
The competition, which started in December when Avnash opened the doors of its 500 MT per day rice mills, the largest in Africa, to more than one hundred students from both institutions.
The students were taken through field visits to some of the 29,000 rice farmers supplying Avnash, and other stages of the supply chain.
Two rounds of pitching have now narrowed down the field of innovations to the final six who each receive funding from Avnash to build a working prototype to demonstrate their idea.
The students were screened from the 20 students of which the best three were awarded for their innovation, with the winners given prizes as well as supported with logistics to start their businesses.
Team Farms Companion emerged winners of the creativity programme initiated by Avnash, with 254 points and given GH¢2, 000 and offered a trip to the organization’s operation areas.
The second position was won by team Fertilizer with 247 and received GH¢1, 000, while the third position was won by team Critical Thinkers with 246, also taking homeGH¢500.00.
Speaking at the final pitch of Avnash Agric Hackathon at Nyankpala in Tamale, CEO of Avnash Industries Limited, Jai Merchandani, noted that the various tertiary students have the potential to create their own businesses when given the needed capacity training and support.
He said the company saw it necessary to enable the students come up with innovative ideas that will help both the public and the private industries to grow, adding that research conducted has helped to identify some challenges confronting the farmers making it difficult to product to meet the criteria of the industries as well the market.
“Avnash is committed towards creating ecosystem and opportunities that can connect to its processing plant to produce more to feed the nation and also as a measure to grow the economy, hence the involvements students” he said.
The Kumasi Hive CEO, George Appiah, said the company is committed towards investing in the innovativeness of the youth, adding that “we run many hackathons but we have been very impressed by the creativity of the students taking part in this one.”
He stressed that the company has also designed a five-year development plan to create five million jobs for the youth of the country and therefore called for support in achieving the aim.B&FT