In May, 24 year old Aibatou Mbaye will travel to the UK from Senegal, to undertake a course in agricultural business management and become one of the Marshal Papworth Fund’s first Demonstration Farmers. Sponsored by family East Anglian based business G’s, growers of quality salads and vegetables, and with a bursary from the Marshal Papworth Fund, this will be the first time that ‘Abi’ has ventured away from her home, and represents a huge opportunity for her and other young people in her community, who will benefit from her knowledge and experience when she returns.
The Marshal Papworth Fund exists to educate agricultural and horticultural students from developing countries and its new Short Course for Demonstration Farmers has been developed to enable the charity to disseminate valuable knowledge about sustainable farming techniques to many more students in the coming years.
In partnership with Shuttleworth College in Bedfordshire, the Fund aims to deliver its tailor-made Short Course to 16 students, from some of the poorest countries in the world, each year.
James Parrish, Chairman of the Marshal Papworth Fund, said: “The Fund has a long history of successfully helping young people from developing countries to help themselves and their communities to prosper. It is only with the generous help of organisations like G’s that we are able to deliver this new series of Short Courses and bring youngsters like Abi to the UK for her training. The Fund and Abi are extremely grateful for G’s foresight and support.”
Abi lives in Yamane, a village close to West Africa Farms (WAF) where she works as a packhouse Quality Control Supervisor, having worked her way up from picking Spring Onions during the harvest. WAF, in which G’s is a partner, grows and packs spring onions and radishes for the UK supermarkets and Abi’s siblings all work for WAF which she says has brought much needed employment to her community, while enabling many families to stay together, rather than having to leave in search of work in the cities.
As subsistence farmers, Abi’s training in the UK will enable the people of Yamane to learn more about sustainable small scale agriculture. Abi said: “I will be able to bring new techniques to my community and help people to grow better crops, while earning more money. I will also be able to help WAF by improving my knowledge of crops as well as the way in which I manage people around the farm.”
“Travelling to the UK would be far too expensive for me and I would not be able to undertake this scholarship had it not been for the Marshal Papworth Fund accepting me in the first instance and G’s paying for my flight and visas. Therefore I am looking forward to making the most of this opportunity to learn lots which I can usefully share with my community and WAF.
“After my studies, I hope to apply what I have learnt to my current role at WAF and help the farm continue to develop. WAF has grown fast and it has brought many benefits to me, my family and community. I hope that it continues to grow and I can continue to grow my career at the same time.”
Since its formation 12 years ago, the Marshal Papworth Fund has helped over 100 young people from developing countries to learn about sustainable agriculture through its MSc and MA courses and now its 10-week BTEC Short Course. To ensure a sustainable future for people like Abi and their communities, the Fund relies on donations.