The Farm Camp initiative, which started in 2014 as a Gayaza enterprise, has seen – in 2015 – the participation of over 30 schools across Uganda and more than 300 students and 50 teachers. #WhisperEyeNews
FAO has contributed lessons to campers surrounding its best practices, to increase Ugandan food security, and livelihoods and ensure sustainable techniques for the future.
Kakoko Richard, from the Nyakasula school, speaks excitedly about his experience: “I took part in the first camp and I was so excited to have my own garden. I love animals so I work with the piggery section of the school farm. We have already sold some of the pigs we started with. We share the profits after the sale. My dream is to have a big farm.”
At the opening ceremony, FAO Country Representative, Alhaji Jallow, assured there is continued support for the initiative: “It is exciting to see young people involved in such an activity because for many years they have looked at agriculture as a job for the uneducated. Supporting youth who appreciate agriculture as a business and means of livelihood is a worthy cause that FAO will continue to be associated with.”
The 2015 School Farm Camp has generated much excitement for many students and their teachers about the different farming practices that they learned. “The camp has taught me many, many things,” says Baguma Richard from Obote College. “I have learned modern livestock keeping, testing for pregnancy in cows, integrating different crops on the same plot, and utilizing a small piece of land to grow food. And this is only the beginning!”
According to Ronald Ddungu, the Deputy Headteacher in charge of Academics and Agricultural Initiatives at Gayaza High School, the concept for the School Farm Camp was designed to provide students and teachers with practical agricultural skills to help them develop an entrepreneurial mind and motivate them to pass on the knowledge to their communities. The activities undertaken at the camp allowed the participants to experience the life of an entrepreneurial farmer for the entirety of the camp.
Moses Baingana, a teacher at Nyakasula School in Fort Portal (near Kampala), attended the camp with six of his students and could not be happier about the results. “When we attended the first camp in 2014, we were inspired and when we went back to our school, we allocated plots to students to grow crops. We also acquired piglets and started a piggery. We allowed students to do what they wanted and we were amazed at the zeal these young people have for farming,” he further explained. Baingana announced that in two years’ time, the school would host the Farm Camp at Nyakasula.
The Gayaza High School and FAO are working together to ensure that other schools can implement the idea of school gardening not only to provide students with a variety of nutritious foods but also to allow them to acquire farming and entrepreneurial skills.