From 8 to 13 November 2021, a technical meeting was held to establish contact, plan and prepare for the launch of the Biovalor project: « Strengthening the skills approach and entrepreneurial culture in higher agronomic training: levers for professional integration and the development of the bio-economy in Benin ».
With a budget of 2,780,000 euros granted by the French government via the National Research Agency (ANR) as part of the Partnership for African Higher Education (PEA) programme, this project aims to amplify the skills approach and its extension in terms of entrepreneurship within two schools of the Faculty of Agronomic Sciences to contribute to the development of the bio-economy in Benin.
More specifically, the BIOVALOR project aims to
– the coherence of training programmes with the targeted needs of the interprofessions through the skills approach at L, M, D level;
– a research dynamic bringing together African and international skills (pole of expertise) to resolve the difficulties/constraints of professionals in the trades;
– improving professional integration by supporting the development of the bio-economy (promotion of entrepreneurial culture, Entrepreneurial Village);
– Gender parity and social equity.
The technical meeting to establish contact, plan and prepare for the launch brought together the main promoters of the Biovalor project, the authorities at various levels and other stakeholders. These included teams from the universities of Lorraine and Abomey Calavi, the Institut SupAgro, CIRAD, the university and government authorities, and the interprofessions of the sectors concerned by the implementation of this project.
Two government institutions were visited at the highest level of the State: the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MESRS) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MAEP). This was an opportunity to present to the authorities the broad outlines of the project and to discuss the expected impact as well as the areas of collaboration. For the Minister of Higher Education, Professor Eleonore YAYI LADEKAN, this is a commendable initiative that will contribute greatly to improving the quality of higher education. « We are going to do everything possible with the University of Abomey-Calavi and the Faculty of Agronomic Sciences so that this seed that you are sowing is the baobab seed that will resist, » she declared.
Several research laboratories were visited within the School of Plant Production Sciences and Techniques and the School of Nutrition and Food Sciences and Technologies of the Faculty of Agronomic Sciences of the UAC in order to map the available equipment and facilities, and to determine and prioritise the investments to be made.
To better understand the entrepreneurial ecosystem in which the project will be carried out, a visit was made to the University of Abomey Calavi Foundation (FUAC). The Director of the Startup Valley – FUAC highlighted the points of convergence between the mission of FUAC and the objectives of the BIOVALOR project. Indeed, FUAC’s objective is to assist and support university graduates in the creation and development of innovative companies with a high potential for decent and sustainable employment. In addition to these various meetings, this first mission of the BIOVALOR project was also an opportunity for the inter-professions (Cashew, Pineapple, Rice, Shea, Fonio and Sisrè) to present their sector of activity and the needs in terms of skills and research that are essential for the development of their sector. As they all agree, a strong involvement of inter-professions in the training of students and in the elaboration of research themes constitutes a better strategy for the efficient resolution of the problems that undermine the sectors and for the marketing of competent and useful executives.
Overall, these various exchanges have reinforced the approach proposed by the project promoters in the implementation and which is based on the following components
– revisiting the training offers at the level of the schools involved (ESTPV & ENSTA);
– the setting up of the entrepreneurial village (crossroads between actors from the professional, university and student worlds, and those from the laboratories, research institutions and application workshops of the FSA);
– the development of innovations in response to the problems of the interprofessions;
– the development of inter-university relations for research programmes and the mobility of teachers, students and administrative staff.
The official launch of the BIOVALOR project is scheduled for January 2022 at the University of Abomey Calavi.