Last week 421 farmers graduated from our eight month farmer training program. It was a joyous occasion for our hard working farmers. Most have only had the opportunity to complete a few grades at the primary school level. After a very long awaited return to classes and learning, our farmers got to fulfil their desire for knowledge and for self-improvement during our training series.
The training series covered several important topics for smallholders, including agricultural best practices, financial literacy, and environmental management.
Our farmers were keenly interested in learning new and improved farming techniques and used the trainings as an opportunity to get answers to some on-farm issues they were having. These included how to deal with mole rats (who are abundant on farms and love to feed on small palm trees) and best techniques for planting.
Financial literacy emerged as the highlight of the course. We covered basic topics, from what is savings and why is it good to save, to how to keep spending records to improve farm management. We worked through examples and farmers completed their own farm budgets in their handbooks. This was a great achievement for our farmers, some of whom have limited numerical skills. Our farmers asked if we could teach these lessons to their families and friends who were all eager to learn how loans work and how interest is calculated. They were very keen to learn more, but regrettably the course had to continue on!
The remaining lessons were dedicated to the topic of environmental awareness. These lessons were based on technical guidance from the HCV Network and focused on developing participatory practices to protect the environment. Each group developed their own practices, which they promised to adhere to and will continue to complete monthly self-verification check-ups to ensure their environment is protected. These lessons allowed older group members to give input based on their historical knowledge of how the landscape of their villages have changed. Many group elders reported a decreased number of flowing rivers in their village over the past 50 years.
The training series was led by our Community Development Manager, Jackson Rumavuwambo, who did a wonderful job weaving together local knowledge, modern techniques, theoretical learning, and practical training to make the program a great success!