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

Foundations for Farming (FtF) successfully trained a variety of groups during the last quarter, including pastors, widows, university students, boys, girls and the elderly. In addition to learning about effective farming methods, participants were also taught financial management, family stewardship and leadership. Overall, FfF staff were successful in managing to share the vision of the organisation with the participants, that of seeking to alleviate poverty in Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole.

More specifically, the participants were taught how to dig planting stations and apply lime, fertilizers, thinning and plant seed in the correct way. It is common for farmers in communal areas to just plant seed without consideration of the importance of spacing and soil condition. This was a very important part of their lessons as it taught the participants how to carry out their farming activities to a required standard in order to achieve the good yields. Theoretical presentations were accompanied by practical demonstrations highlighting the negative effects of ploughing compared with using mulch to cover the bare soil. Participants were particuarly intrigued by the demonstration of how soil erosion takes place on ploughed land after the rain falls.

Composting also featured heavily in the training, with participants taking part in building a compost pile, which they then monitored for the anticipated heat effects predicted by the theory they had learned in the classroom. The participants were truly amazed at how costly compound fertilizers may be easily and effectively substituted with readily available organic materials piled together to make a compost pile.

Overall, the training was a revelation in shedding light on why farmers of all types had achieved low yields in the past and how a natural and affordable solution exists within the reach of all farmers.

Thank you for all your continued support!

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Foundations for Farming Training Course
Foundations for Farming Training Course

Foundations for Farming have had an exciting quarter, expanding their work both in Zimbabwe and wider Africa. Foundations for Farming ran training courses on conservation, climate-smart agriculture, agroforestry and farming principles and methods for community leaders from every region of Zimbabwe last quarter. Foundations for Farming identified that poor farming methods and an overdependency on cash crops have led to food insecurity and poverty in local communities, where even farmer’s families do not have enough food on the table or money to pay for education or healthcare. As a result, they ran an intervention training teaching community leaders and farmers in better water conservation, land use and time management to produce more crops and more income.

There was also a specialist training for a group of refugees to learn farming methods, so they are not reliant on refugee camps and hand outs but could provide food security and income opportunities for themselves. All the training was extremely successful, and feedback after the sessions revealed that all participants were extremely passionate about the training and had retained the information well.

ZET was lucky enough to visit Foundations for Farming and one of the schools we have worked with since 2018 this quarter to see the incredible progress they have made. We were extremely impressed with the Foundations for Farming office, which is surrounded with test plots and nutritional gardens so they can practice and enhance their teachings and projects. The gardens and plots were blooming and it was almost impossible to believe that such simple farming methods and changes could have such a drastic change on outputs.

We also visited St John’s Primary School, the school we have been supporting through GlobalGiving for 3 years. The school is thriving, having successfully implemented and maintained the Foundations for Farming approaches. This has meant they have produced enough maize and vegetables to set up a Food Aid programme, giving free school meals to disadvantaged students, and even surplus on top to sell at local markets to have more money for books and school resources. It was a pleasure to see how the project had worked so successfully, not only to improve farming and food production, but to benefit the whole school and community.

Thank you for all your continued support!

St John's Primary School
St John's Primary School
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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. 

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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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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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