The MA in Development Studies Class of 2023 embarked on a four-day study tour to the South Tongu District in the Volta Region of Ghana. This excursion, an integral part of the MA programme, provided students with a unique opportunity to apply their acquired knowledge to real-world scenarios, engage with local communities, and gain a deeper understanding of development in practice. Participants included 17 MA students, three faculty members, and five administrative staff.
Featuring insightful discussions with the district assembly, enlightening guided tours of over five local businesses, and valuable socialization opportunities with their peers, lecturers, and local communities, the 2023 MA study tour proved to be a resounding success, offering the students a truly enriching and unforgettable experience.
The tour began with interactions at the South Tongu District Assembly in Sogakope, the district capital. The team was given a warm reception by the District Assembly District Chief Executive (DCE), Honourable Seth Kwasi Agbi, who emphasised the district's commitment to the success of the tour. The MA Course Coordinator, Dr. Kofi Takyi Asante expressed the team's eagerness to learn from the assembly and to facilitate a comparative analysis of classroom learning.
A subsequent meeting involving the heads of the various departments of the district assembly enabled students to gather insights into the social and economic conditions of the South Tongu District. The presentations started with a profile of the South Tongu District and also highlighted the roles, challenges, and achievements of the various units of the district assembly. This was followed by a vibrant Q&A session that fostered connections between the students and the assembly members, promoting a mutual appreciation of the district's development challenges and opportunities.
The team also visited three important locations for rice cultivation and milling in the district: RMG-GADCO Farms, Brazil Agro Business Group, and FYSSO Ghana (Juster Rice), all located in Sogakope. At each location, students learned about the vast opportunities, the challenges, as well as inspiring stories of resilience in the rice value chain. These visits enabled students to discern both the similarities and differences between various companies and gain a holistic understanding of the sector.
Additionally, students explored fish processing and pottery sites, where they witnessed captivating demonstrations of these traditional businesses' operations. A highlight of the tour was the guided tour of Brazil Agro Business Group's factory and farm, where students traced the rice production process from farm to fork. Visits to Amenuveve Fish Processors in Hlikpoe and a decades-old pottery in Sogakope further enriched their knowledge of local enterprises.
Daily debriefing sessions after the group returned to their lodging place played a pivotal role in the tour's success. These sessions brought students and accompanying lecturers together to discuss field findings in the context of classroom theories. Open and candid discussions allowed students to voice questions, comments, and insights on key issues, fostering a dynamic learning environment
This study tour was carefully balanced, ensuring a blend of educational and recreational activities, leaving students with memorable experiences. Several students expressed their appreciation and shared their thoughts on the journey.
Prosper Avea Avea, the course representative, said, "The study tour has given me the platform to learn the practical aspects of development. As a development practitioner in the civil society space, I have gained knowledge that will help improve my work going forward. Thank you, ISSER, for making this possible."
Minshee Nle Adu remarked, "Aside from the fun, I was able to learn a great deal about value addition in the agriculture value chain – this has given me a clearer idea about where I can potentially channel my efforts as a soon-to-be graduate of development studies."
Mr. Wumbilla Salifu described the tour as "memorable and insightful." He particularly appreciated the debriefing sessions where lecturers worked with students in bridging the gap between classroom theory and practical knowledge gained during the tours.
"Indeed, the field trip is an excellent component of the MA in Development Studies Programme. I encourage everyone seeking to enroll in a high-standard, world-class programme to consider ISSER," Salifu added.
Organised in the final weeks of the 12-month MA in Development Studies Programme, the study tour is an extension of the Development Training Workshop, a bi-monthly non-residential field trip that students undertake as part of their training. The 2023 study tour took place between 22 to 25 August in the South Tongu District of the Volta Region. The group lodged at the Sogakppe Beach Resort.
ISSER joins the class of 2023 in extending thanks and appreciation to the organisations and individuals who contributed to making the 2023 study tour a success.