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
Nest Literacy Centre Farming Plot
Nest Literacy Centre Farming Plot

Foundations for Farming had a busy quarter concluding a ZET-funded project with two primary schools near Harare. This quarter, project staff visited the schools to continue encouraging and supporting teachers and imparting resources and skills to ensure project sustainability beyond their visits, and to encourage the schools to share their tools and knowledge for the project approach to expand into the wider community.

Foundations for Farming had good expectations for both schools. Upon visiting Nest Literacy Centre last quarter, the team were pleased with the progress made although the school was struggling to have enough water to water the crops, and was asking students to bring water from home to support these efforts. This time, the team were disappointed to see that the plot had regrettably dried up and mostly died due to inadequate water supply to the school, and the broken well in the village had meant the plot was unsustainable.

The school were devastated, as they had been relying on the crops to produce enough income for the school to build new classrooms. Foundations for Farming empathised, and provided them with enough tools and inputs that they would be able to salvage the plot and produce maize for next year, giving them resources to cover the building costs. The team also taught the school to use more mulch in the plot, as this leaves it less vulnerable to water loss and evaporation. The FfF team was happy to bring some encouragement to the teachers and to have been of assistance in preparing their plots.

After this visit, the team drove to the teacher from Yadah College. The school had actually shut down months previously, but the teacher working with Foundations for Farming had supported the project still by teaching children voluntarily and cultivating a plot on her own land. The team saw the plot was doing very successfully, and delivered tools and inputs for its continuation. It was heart-warming to see how well the student’s had done despite the adversity the project faced and filled the team with hope that the student’s will be able to carry this knowledge beyond the scope of the project into their local community.

Foundations for Farming were pleased with the outcome of the project overall. Despite the challenges faced by Nest Literacy Centre, the teachers were willing to work harder and adapt their practices to improve to implement sustainable farming approaches. Yadah College were an inspiring case study, despite the difficulties faced by the school and community. Foundations for Farming are confident that the staff trained from both schools will continue to impact students and that the plots developed will continue to strengthen. 

Yadah College Teacher's Farming Plot
Yadah College Teacher's Farming Plot
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Community Leaders Receiving Training
Community Leaders Receiving Training

Foundations for Farming (FfF) successfully managed to carry out a number of activities in this quarter. They continued to promote sustainable agriculture in communities, training 90 community leaders across three communities in Bulawayo, Thsolotsho and Bindura in Conservation Agriculture (CA) within the last three months. These communities were chosen as they were deemed the most needy in terms of food shortages and overall povery levels. Each community leader successfully completed the training, and went onto impart these lessons and methods to their local communities.

In addition to this work, FfF conducted refresher training in CA for a group of 28 participants across 7 schools (teachers, headmasters, School Development Committee members and extension officers). This helps schools to hone and improve their skills to ensure their crops and gardens are as successful as possible, and enables FfF to train up other teachers. All participants successfully completed this training and Foundations for Farming are pleased that they have been implementing sustainable farming practices in their schools, and teaching these methods to their students, to great success.

FfF also conducted visits to the communities supported by ZET donors’ support this quarter, including 13 schools and an orphanage, to see their progress and provide extra support where needed. These visits were very encouraging. The schools seemed to be working hard to implement sustainable agriculture practices, and students were engaged in the project. Some support was provided by staff to improve certain techniques and supply tools, and we hope with this help the school’s will be flourishing even more next quarter.

All this work together helps communities to develop skills, produce more food and income, and become more resilient to the drastic effects of poverty and climate change across Zimbabwe. This work would not have been possible without your continued support, so ZET and FfF thank you!

FfF Conducting School Visits
FfF Conducting School Visits
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Foundations for Farming (FfF) has had a busy start to the year, partnering with two new schools (Yadah College and Nest Literacy Centre) to teach conservation agriculture, climate-smart methods, and agroforestry. So far, the work with these two schools has been intensive. Firstly, FfF ran a four-day initial training conducted in February for three teachers from the two schools, with the intention of equipping them with adequate knowledge and skills to impart both theoretical and practical concepts to the school children. During the training, the teachers learned about the guiding principles of Conservation Agriculture and Agro Forestry and how to implement these in their daily farming activities. They were then fully equipped through capacity-building training to go onto teach these methods in their schools and surrounding communities.

Then, to follow up from this training to ensure that the teachers are implementing and teaching the concepts taught to them to a high quality, the FfF team conducted the first of four technical support visits to the schools. The technical support visits assess the progress of the schools, monitoring the areas which are excelling and providing support for the areas which still need improvement, including the state of the land being farmed and the levels of knowledge amongst students and other teachers. These visits provide teachers with the physical resources they need to implement this work, as well as refresher training, assistance and support to keep each school motivated and on track.

Both the initial training and the technical support visits were successfully implemented and satisfactory results were obtained. Having successfully prepared the land for new farming at both schools, the next round of technical visits will be used to implement composting and fertilising. The aim of this project is to support communities to implement more efficient and climate-resilient farming methods, which will lead to more crops, giving communities more food on the table and an additional source of income. Both schools seem to be doing well, thanks to the support of Foundations for Farming, and well on the way to using these methods in school plots and advocating their use for the wider community.

As always, ZET and Foundations for Farming are grateful for your continued support, supporting communities to change their lives building routes out of poverty.

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Schools receiving inputs
Schools receiving inputs

In October and November, Foundations for Farming conducted two technical support visits to five schools.

The purpose of the visit was:

  • to distribute inputs for them to use for planting and watering their plots, including hoes, watering cans, maize seed, fertilizer and vegetable seed. The schools could then use these for food and income production
  • to assess the schools progress and sustainability, identifying how many students and communities had been taught sustainable farming methods and evaluating the success of the project, as this would be Foundations for Farming’s final visit to each of these schools

This was vital as many of the schools had the knowledge of conservation and climate-smart agriculture techniques, thanks to training by Foundations for Farming, but lacked the necessary tools. It was clear this knowledge had been successfully passed down from the teachers to the students, and giving hope that these students can go out to transfer these skills to the rest of the community.

Across the schools ZET and Foundations for Farming have been working in, a total of 17 staff, 338 pupils and 87 community members have been trained in conservation agriculture, learning the most effective, sustainable and resilient farming methods for their land.

The schools had successfully taken on the methods and message advocated by Foundations for Farming, but some struggled with certain activities, including mulching, weeding or composting due to a shortage of time or resources. 

These visits gave the Foundations for Farming a clearer picture of how the schools would perform long after the program ended. All the schools showed a lot of promise but there is still need for continuous encouragement required to motivate the teachers.

Of all the schools, St Johns was the best performing school with more enthusiastic pupils than the rest of the schools. St John’s benefitted from a strong relationship with Foundations for Farming, and was visited often for training, tools and support. This shows the importance of building long-lasting intensive relationships, and having enough staff and funds to implement the project successfully.

In 2017, Foundations for Farming intends to renew this work by partnering with new schools and continuing its training in efficient farming methods to provide communities with more opportunities for food and income production. Two new schools have already been identified thanks to ZET's funding, but we will need help to reach more communities across Zimbabwe, as they struggle to cope with the continued effects of poverty and climate change.

Students finishing their agricultural training
Students finishing their agricultural training
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Healthy looking maize plants grown by pupils
Healthy looking maize plants grown by pupils

Summary of Schools Projects Implemented

Foundations for Farming has been mainstreaming Conservation Agriculture (CA) in 12 Anglican schools. Several representatives from the schools and the surrounding communities were chosen by the school Headmasters and Headmistresses. These representatives included the Headmasters and Headmistresses themselves, school teachers, School Development Committee (SDC) members and local Extension officers.

The school and community representatives were initially invited to a four day training, where they were taught about the CA principles, leadership, compost building, vegetable production, herbs, grain storage as well as apiary (bee keeping). All these lessons were meant to encourage the schools to be self-sustainable by venturing into various income generating projects at the school. Very good results are expected in the schools that have been trained and provided with technical support.

Summary of Community Projects Implemented

Foundations for Farming (FfF) has over the past three months, trained three communities from different ethnical backgrounds in Conservation Agriculture and different aspects of how to alleviate poverty and hunger in their families. After having provided the communities with these life changing 2 week trainings, FfF staff have conducted technical support visits to these communities to prepare them for the agricultural season which has just recently begun. The communities were selected through organizations and churches with the intention of promoting sustainable development in surrounding communities.

Conclusion

So this quarter FfF has trained:

  • 28 School Headmasters and Headmistresses, school teachers, SDC members and Extension officers.
  • 90 vulnerable community members

We hope that ZET will be able to emulate our efforts to empower the future generation with this precious methods of farming which have the potential to alleviate poverty and hunger in most schools and communities.

Farming inputs donated to schools
Farming inputs donated to schools
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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:
Steve Besford
LEEDS, West Yorkshire United Kingdom
$933 raised of $1,500 goal
 
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$567 to go
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