Train Primary Teachers in Conservation Agriculture

by Zimbabwe Educational Trust (ZET)
Train Primary Teachers in Conservation Agriculture
Train Primary Teachers in Conservation Agriculture
Train Primary Teachers in Conservation Agriculture
Train Primary Teachers in Conservation Agriculture

News:

This has been an exciting quarter for FfF. They have successfully built a Chicken Layer Unit at the Nest Literacy Centre which can accommodate 20 birds. The unit is part of a small-scale egg production project that fits into FfF's wider objectives of sustainable development: the project has the potential to encourage sustainable income generation for the school through selling the eggs; four teachers have been trained how to grow crops using Sustainable Agricultural Methods (Conservation Agriculture) to promote increased productivity; this training will complement the egg production project, as well as sustain it for up to three years

The Chicken Layer Unit Process:

Due to a sudden increase in the price of the building materials, the construction process took a little longer than expected. However, the pupils from the school assissted the FfF trainers in the process, sharing the workload and ultimately reducing the time taken to construct the Unit. It was encouraging to see how hard the students worked during the process, and how they took ownership of the project for the benefit of the school and the their fellow students. It was particularly important that they understood that the success of the project and its sustinably for future cohorts was dependent on their commitment to it, but their eagerness to see the project come to life demonstrated their appreciation of this. 

What's Next:

FfF is currently in the process of acquiring the 20 layer chickens and the required feed to support the project for a year. This will help support the school in the initial stages of the project until it is able to generate enough income from the eggs to either expand the project or erect learning facilities for the students, or a security fence around the school premises. The students at the school have been busy gathering the bedding material required for the chickens to lie in. This can be found in the form of dry grass or wood shavings. Once the project is up and running, the students will also be able to learn about entrepreneurship from the project, and start to gain experience to start their own small projects at home. 

Targets:

The main target is to ensure that the project starts to generate income by the end of 2019. Other targets include:

  • Increased income generated by the projet by April 2020
  • Incorporate yield from the fields to support the project by April 2020
  • Construction of proper learning facilities to commence by September 2010

These milestones are expected to be met by the school by December 2020. 

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This quarter saw a period of consolidation and planning as we look to raise funds to take on the next stage of our work. 

We're in the process scoping and costing out the resources we need to prepare the farmland and chicken's area to allow the NEST School to develop their sustainable farming methods and produce crops which will support their own needs and with a surplus they can sell and use to by educational resources. This will support the local economy so everybody wins.

Watch this space for more detail to follow but please help us now by getting the fundraising ball rolling.

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FfF group with certificates
FfF group with certificates

Foundations for Farming has over the past year been involved in the training of Tertiary Education students from several Agricultural Institutions in Zimbabwe. The objective of the trainings has been to introduce as well as complement any Conservation Agriculture (CA) teachings or programs, that may be in the educational curriculums in the institutions.

To date Foundations for Farming has trained close to 400 students and 60 staff members from the participating institutions. Most of the students trained have been women and girls with a percentage of 65% and men and boys contributing 35% of the students trained. This statistic shows how women contribute immensely in Zimbabwe’s Agricultural sector, which is considered the backbone of the country’s economy. Therefore, their role in the rebuilding of the Zimbabwean economy is undeniably significant.

More students are expected to be trained, as Foundations for Farming drives to eradicate hunger and poverty as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for Africa and the world. Hopefully, Climate Smart Agricultural practices such as CA will become part of policy to reduce environmental degradation as well as carbon emissions released into the atmosphere.

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Between November 2018 and January 2019, trainers conducted two technical support visits to Nest Literacy to monitor the progress in initiatives outlined in the training conducted in August 2018. These included: supervision of teachers in the students’ allocation of a demonstration plot land area that would exhibit the four core principles (minimum soul disturbance, mulching, crop rotations and high management) and the joint effort of teachers and students to construct a compost pile that would fertilise the soil, thereby improving its nutrition content and facilitating a texture that would better hold in moisture.  

First School Technical Support Visit – 16th November 2018:

School staff that attended the August 2018 training gave a presentation on the following findings: 

Demonstration plot: Despite the fact that the allocation land area had been divided into two due to evasion of land by community members, the students successfully established demonstration stations on both halves of the plot. One of the expectations outlined in the training was that the pupils would perform land preparation activities e.g. mulching the plot. However, they struggled to gather the needed mulch to do this.  

Compost pile: Unfortunately, a severe shortage of water disabled the students and teachers to build the compost pile. Additionally, some of the material resources supplied to pupils to plant maize crops was stolen due to low security at the school. 

Challenges they face:  

  • Lack of financial resources to support most school programs. This particularly affects the school’s ability to acquire a security fence that clearly demarcates the boundary of the school property 
  • Unstable water supply limiting the school’s irrigating (and drinking) water  
  • Lack of buy-in of the project by the local community or other influential community members 

Trainers to the rescue: 

The trainers helped soften the blow of these challenges by distributing inputs for the demonstration plot and maize seed for the teachers’ personal plots. Not only were the students and pupils thrilled, but it motivated them to work hard to ensure that the tasks be fulfilled. Additionally, in order to address the lack of community involvement, the trainers encouraged the teachers to carry out community workshops to educate members of the community about how this cause can positively impact their lives too.  

Second School Technical Support visit – 24th January 2019 

We are glad to report that when the trainer met with the teachers to assess progress, the maize in both plots had germinated well; it looked natural and healthy. However, having no security fence around the school was still obstructing them from carrying out their tasks. The mulch that the pupils had laid in the demonstration plots continued to be stolen. The trainer emphasised the importance of persisting, as well as offering advice abut how to engage the community, hopeful that appreciation of the initiative would reduce cases of theft.  

Persisting challenges: The school still suffers from inadequate water supply. Currently, they cannot cater for both the children’s water needs and that of the field. This continues to pose a problem for compiling the compost.  

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Conservation Agriculture Learning Progress
Conservation Agriculture Learning Progress

This quarter 4 new participants had their initial training in Agriculture and Agroforestry. They were all from the Nest Literacy Centre and; 1 Head Teacher, 1 Project Coordinator and 2 Teachers.

The participants learned about building composts in such a way as to maximise yield and minimise cost. They were also taught about cereal and vegetable production as a way of improving food security in their school, allowing them to support the feeding schemes they have for the students at their school.

The training also included broader elements of Leadership and Teambuilding which will be key to their maintaining what they have learned within their school. They took on the responsibility to take their learning back to school staff and share it. Some there have already attended FfF courses so this will serve as a reminder and re-energiser. For others it will be the first they have learned and will hopefully start them on a path of supporting sustainable farming methods.

Foundations for Farming will continue to support the school with site technical support visits to ensure they are successful in putting theory in to practice.

Conservation Agriculture Training Underway
Conservation Agriculture Training Underway
One Happy Group
One Happy Group

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Organization Information

Zimbabwe Educational Trust (ZET)

Location: LEEDS, West Yorkshire - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @zet_uk
Project Leader:
Andrew Jackson
Leeds, West Yorkshire United Kingdom
$1,661 raised of $2,800 goal
 
40 donations
$1,139 to go
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