Foundations for Farming (FfF) faced a difficult quarter, as school examinations and the end of the school year made it difficult to engage with schools. In addition, the wider shifts in Zimbabwe led to a short period of uncertainty for our work, dependent on travelling in and around Harare. Despite this, FfF managed to successfully visit and work with several schools in the area, conducting technical visits to assess each schools progress, and providing additional training and resources to each partner school.
In total, Foundations for Farming contacted over 60 schools through telephone and written questionnaires regarding their experiences, and visitied 10 in person to see the plot’s progress and the teacher’s efforts. Many schools had struggled this year with reduced budgets and poor weather, but each had showed real enthusiasm and had taken on board the farming methods advocated by Foundations for Farming and showed continued commitment to the project. The vast majority of teachers were able to recite key conservation agriculture principles, their importance, how to implement them and the aims of the project – which was considered a real success as for many it was over a year since they had initially been trained in this. As a result of each school’s continued commitment to this work in the face of adversity, project officers were glad to help the schools by providing expert technical advice for how to yield better crops, including new farming methods and different crops to try. As additional support, FfF offered schools new tools and new supplies to kickstart their land plots.
As a final follow-up, the staff at Foundations for Farming ran several refresher courses for primary school teachers from participating schools from 2015, 2016 and 2017 in climate-smart, conservation agriculture. These training courses covered the principles of conservation agriculture and its benefits, farming methods and activities, but also had interactive sessions where teachers lead their own practical lessons and discussed their experiences in the programme. The aim of this refresher course is to not only increase teachers’ knowledge so that this may help their own schools, but to empower them to go on and advocate conservation agriculture in their wider communities. This means that whole communities can be touched by the work of FfF, leading to genuinely community-led farming reform, leading to more effective, efficient and resilient approaches.
Foundations for Farming have had a very successful quarter, concluding their 2017 projects; running additional training and support to continue long-term project effectiveness and impact; and reaching out to a number of new schools and beneficiaries. FfF are optimistic that the schools they have worked with will continue to grow, improve and make a success of the project as many of them had at the last technical visits – and in turn can teach these methods to their students, their parents, and their wider communities.