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 (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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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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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
 
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$1,139 to go
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