From Classroom to Farm: A Practical Approach to Agricultural transformation

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Kiryandongo: Asili Farms played host to a group of over 40 secondary school teachers at its facility in Kigumba. This group, coming from all over the country, was unique as in they had a very specific plan after the visit. It is always intriguing and it makes a big difference when one has clearly laid out their next steps even before starting out.  

Roger Ddungu, the head of this delegation, stated that the purpose of the visit was to equip teachers with experiences that go beyond just the classroom and also help relate what they teach their students to the Ugandan rural context and its livelihoods.  

The teachers under the Holistic eLearning Platform (HeLP) noted that the ultimate beneficiary of such excursions is the student, asteachers benefit from practical and up-to-date knowledge on climate-smart farming techniques that Asili Farms pioneers in Uganda, adopting the practices of Conservation Agriculture such as no-till, crop rotation and maintaining soil cover.  

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“The aim is to ensure that teachers have the competencies to deliver quality and relevant agricultural education and training. After this visit, my plan is to organize a similar outreach specifically for the head teachers, so they can to see how to replicate what is on a mechanized farm, in their school gardens. That’s the plan,” said Ddungu. 

Adding, “You cannot imagine how the trip to Asili Farms has opened my library, and now I am more than equipped to share materials with other teachers. This is why I think as HeLP we need to take more teachers and students for such visits and possibly during active seasons.” 

According to a recent article posted on the Flemish Association for DevelopmentCooperation and Technical Assistance (VVOB) website, most young Ugandans rarely complete lower secondary-level agricultural or certificate-level agricultural business, technical and vocational education and training (BTVET) with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to succeed. This is largely due to the fact that the agricultural education and training they receive, is tootheoretical. 

“Many young Ugandans see a future for themselves in the sector as ‘agripreneurs’. To fulfil these aspirations, they need relevant competences,” reads the article in part.  

As testament to the above statement, the government through the National Development Plan 3 (NDP3) has deliberately prioritized skills development with specific emphasis on the agricultural sector. 

Uganda is home to a youthful population striving for economic opportunities. It has been severally noted that, for the foreseeable future, the agricultural sector will continue to be the backbone of the economy and key to absorb most of the youth-oriented jobs.  

To ensure that the resource-led agro-industrialization process is both sustainableand beneficial to its citizens, the government has stated that it will work closely with the private sector in two critical areas; Private Sector Development and Human Capital Development. These two will be at the centre of the country’s efforts to build an educated, skillful, and productive labor force to drive this development process.    

Asili Farms, as one of the leading farming enterprises in Uganda, enjoys a team of over 300 Ugandans, majority of whom are youth and women. Several leadership and specialized roles at the company have been filled by competent individuals, earning competitive wages; as the company pays above average wages for skilled and unskilled labor. With a focus on hiring locally, hundreds of local community members now receive an improved source of livelihood. 

Asili Farms is also always on the lookout for talent and strives to contribute to skills development and agricultural education for the youth but also as a priority area under its ‘smallholder farmers support program’. 

As such, the company will continue to explore avenues to structure long-lasting and mutually beneficial partnerships with leading agricultural and education institutions in the country. We believe in contributing to the sector, ensuring it attains the requisite skillset to enable it to evolve from a subsistence-led to commercial-led sector, thereby supplementing government’s efforts as outlined in the NDP3. 

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Uganda’s fertile agricultural land has the potential to feed 200 million people. With groups such as HeLP enabling teachers to see for themselves the potential of Uganda’s agricultural sector and looking for ways of contributing to its human resource capability, we are optimistic that the country’s agricultural sector will continuously glide towards that golden milestone.