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 would like to thank all their supporters from Global Giving and ZET for helping them to train primary school teachers in Conservation Agriculture and Climate Smart Agriculture.

Zimbabwe experienced a devastating drought this year, disrupting the livelihoods and quality of life for many across the region. This led to low crop production, food insecurity and malnutrition. The drought decimated many villages, leaving most rural families unable to send their children to school or afford health care.

Foundations for Farming has spent the last quarter continuing to train and prepare communities to cope with severe weather, climate change and food insecurity. The approach introduced by Foundations for Farming encourages the recognition of the value of children’s input; educating children on the importance of climate change and how Conservation Agriculture can be used to reduce its impact. This makes them ambassadors for these methods in their communities, improving food security. This is important for giving younger generations a sense of ownership and investment in the project, and leading to sustainable community-led development.

Foundations for Farming successfully trained 4 Teachers from 2 schools, St John’s and St Michael’s, in Conservation Agriculture and Agroforestry. These teachers have become Trainers of Trainers in their schools and communities. The plots at the schools are being used as learning sites for the school children, where they learn the various ways of addressing climate change issues. Currently an estimated 200-250 children have managed to share the knowledge they received from their schools with their families. Crop yield in the past quarter has been impressive, considering the severe drought in Zimbabwe this year.

This project has the potential to improve the lives and skills of children and their families across Zimbabwe. Schools and local families will have the necessary knowledge and skills to introduce income generating projects and improve the children’s nutritional health by providing a balanced diet.

However, unfortunately, Foundations for Farming has had to stop its operations training teachers and working with schools due to a lack of funding. We have plans to resume work again as soon as funding makes possible, but thank you for all your support so far.

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State of 39m x 16m school plot crop
State of 39m x 16m school plot crop

Following up on the schools progress after the last visit conducted in November 2015, the FfF team travelled to St Michaels and St Johns in February and March 2016 to monitor the state of the crop, plots and the compost pile. The visits were also meant to support the teachers through encouragement and advice in the areas they were struggling with and to assess the amazing results of the adoption of CA during times of drought.

 

St Johns Primary school

The visits to St Johns Primary school in November 2015 showed very promising results as their two plots had been well weeded and mulched. The February visit saw a definite improvement as the teachers managed to plant their plots even though because of the harsh climatic conditions some areas still needed some improvement. It was very encouraging to see how the Headmaster had begun to show his support of the program by buying a fence to cover the 39m x 16m plot.

The March visit assessed the further progress that had been made by the teachers and their pupils in addressing the areas that needed attention. The results showed that they had made improvement in maintaining their fields and it is also clear that the teachers made an effort to water their demonstration plot using containers. As for the state of the teacher’s personal plots as well as the quality of their crop they did well with room for some improvement when it comes to mulching and weeding: nevertheless it was evident how the teacher’s plots stood out in an area where achieving a good harvest is challenging.

 

St Michaels Primary School

In November the teachers were very well coordinated and did very good in their plots. The school was very fortunate to have a reliable source of water which ensures a good yield: the crops had emerged and seemed to be growing quite well and this could be used as a learning example for their pupils. The February visit also showed evidence that the school is doing very well in terms of plot and crop management. In November the maize had a 90% germination rate, therefore continuous encouragement to the teachers was crucial to ensure that the plots continued to be monitored up until harvest. One of the teachers gave a testimony of how other staff members at the school are admiring their crops: this increased the number of adopters at the school – now at 10 between the teachers and administration staff – and even within the community.

In March the team assessed whether the areas the teachers were asked to improve on had been attended to: it has been found that the maize crops looked very healthy and well maintained. The major challenge the teachers encountered was that of the community stealing the maize cobs because they were the only crops that had done well in the area.

 

Please support this project to help the teachers and children of St Michaels and St Johns to flourish in their ability to get better crop yields for their families!

Fence established around the school plot
Fence established around the school plot
Mr Marima at his plot
Mr Marima at his plot
Mr Chipfunde in his plot
Mr Chipfunde in his plot
Maize crops in schools 39m x 16m plot
Maize crops in schools 39m x 16m plot
Teachers exhibiting their plot
Teachers exhibiting their plot
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Pupils in their vegetable garden
Pupils in their vegetable garden

The pupils of St Michaels and St Johns Primary Schools have shown great interest in learning about Conservation Agriculture and started teaching their families how to apply the principles in their own fields. Much work has been put into educating teachers and the students but the initiative that they have taken has been amazing. Zimbabwe faces many challenges such as lack of rainfall and limited resources. While Foundations for Farming helps by providing technical support and inputs such as seeds and tools like hoes and watering cans, the teachers and pupils have taken all this in and used it as a learning platform not just for the schools but for their communities.

At St Michaels the teachers have shown a lot of initiative in applying the skills that they learnt to educate their pupils. They decided to conduct an experiment together with their pupils on how locally available resources can be used in Conservation Agriculture. Tobacco is a commercial crop grown in most parts of Zimbabwe. The experiment was to investigate the effects of tobacco chaff when used as mulch in a maize plot. The other piece of land was covered with crop residue and leaves as mulch (normal mulch) and they intended to compare the outcomes of these plots. Overall the teachers and their pupils have shown that they are capable of doing anything if they work together as a team.

This hard work has extended not only to students and teachers doing Conservation Agriculture but communities are excited about this project. The communities look up to the schools as learning platforms and a way to learn how to feed themselves and their families.

Please support this project to help the teachers and children of St Michaels and St Johns to flourish in their ability to get better crop yields for their families.

Tools and Inputs
Tools and Inputs
Pupils on the way to their garden
Pupils on the way to their garden
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Mr Marima, Mr Chipfunde and pupils in maize field
Mr Marima, Mr Chipfunde and pupils in maize field

Mr Marima is a grade 6 teacher from St Johns primary school in Murewa district. Mr Marima has been teaching at this school for 5years and he has always had a passion for farming although he never produced anything worth mentioning. Mr Marima has his own small garden in his backyard which he uses for growing vegetables and maize during the rainy season. Mr Marima lives within the school premises therefore space is limited to expand his garden.

When Foundations for Farming (FfF) invited two teachers from the school to attend training in 2014, he immediately volunteered to attend as he always had the hunger and passion to learn more about farming as he grew up in more of a rural setup and farming was the family’s main source of income. Mr Marima and Mr Chipfunde attended a four day training at Foundations for Farming and for the first time he said “his eyes were opened’’.  After the training Mr Marima started implementing some Conservation Agriculture (CA) concepts in his small garden i.e. minimal soil disturbance and mulching. Miraculously the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE) announced that Agriculture was to be introduced into primary schools as an examinable subject which encouraged Mr Marima as he introduced his class fully to the concepts of CA which up until now he had only been able to do during their Environmental lessons.

Mr Marima asked the school administration to support the initiative by allocating the pupils a piece of land to implement the theory into pratcice. The school already has a piece of land which is about half an acre where the school has been growing maize in previous years. Unfortunately the school never got more than 400kg of maize from this piece of land since they started farming on the plot. This discouraged the school as they committed the little resources they had but harvested very little.

In the 2014-2015 agricultural season, Mr Marima and Mr Chipfunde implemented what they had been taught (CA principles) by FfF on the piece of land they were allocated and the change they have experienced is amazing. They were able to use fewer resources in planting their field (Pfumvudza plot) and on just 0.15 of a Hectare (624m²) the teachers and their pupils were able to harvest just over 400kg of maize from their Pfumvudza plot only. This is more than a 3-fold increase in crop yield! The school administration had never thought that such a small plot could produce a higher maize yield than the larger plot they used to farm on. This has really encouraged the teachers and the pupils. Therefore this season they are planning to grow both maize and beans. After this experience the school administration as well as other staff members have embraced this initiative and are eager to start practicing it in their own fields.

"The maize yield from the schools Pfumvudza plot is expected to improve this season if the rains are favourable. Other than that the teachers are more than willing to see this system of farming being practiced in the entire community as it really is a panacea to food insecurity & poverty’’, said Mr Marima. 

ZET invites you to support training for more teachers like Mr Marima in Conservation Agriculture. Thank you for your donations.

St Johns 2014-2015 season Pfumvudza plot
St Johns 2014-2015 season Pfumvudza plot
Mr Marima & Chipfunde in harvested Pfumvudza plot
Mr Marima & Chipfunde in harvested Pfumvudza plot
Mr Marima showing FfF team their old compost pile
Mr Marima showing FfF team their old compost pile
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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
 
28 donations
$567 to go
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