In 2015, ODD welcomed its first class of students to the “Centre de Formation Agricole”, or Ag Training School. This three-year program is designed to provide integrated agricultural and discipleship training, preparing graduates to return to their communities as agricultural specialists. The goal of the first year is to train professional farmers who are able to develop and manage small, self-sufficient family farms. After completion of the first year, some students choose to return to their communities immediately and begin implementing what they’ve learned. Others continue into the program’s second year, which focuses on teaching students to train others in sustainable techniques. Graduates from the second year are certified as ODD trainers who can return to their villages and offer direct farming assistance to the community through seminars and workshops. Third year students pick an area of specialization (gardening, field crops, animal husbandry, etc.) and supervise that area of the school while completing new research on a topic of their choice.
The Ag School is a vital step for ODD in our vision to reach the entire region for Christ. As our students reenter the the community, they are equipped to share their knowledge and demonstrate effective agricultural techniques to others. Through this model, we hope to expand our agricultural network and build a foundation for discipleship opportunities in the church. Already we have seen agriculture open doors for the gospel, and it is our prayer that God will continue to reap a harvest from the seeds we have sown.