Marshal Papworth graduate uses prestigious scholarship to expedite food security project
In Kenya, Vincent Ekapolon, graduate of the Marshal Papworth 10-week short course in sustainable agriculture, is quickly progressing his project in ‘Climate Smart Grain Amaranth for Food, Income and Nutrition Security in Busia, Kenya’ since returning from a scholarship at Harper Adams University, Shropshire, UK.
A seed technician from Western Seed Company Ltd talks through maize varieties with Vincent and some of his farmers
The scholarship, funded by the Marshal Papworth Fund – managed by the East of England Agricultural Society – ran over eight weeks earlier this year, with Vincent returning to Kenya and his role as a Peer Farmer Trainer with Ripple Effect in July.
Vincent has seen first-hand the impact of his agricultural studies in the UK, not only equipping him with a range of practical farming, communication, and business skills, but also in opening doors and help make professional connections to help roll out his project, and therefore help more people, faster.
Vincent said: “Most companies have confidence in working with me because they appreciate the knowledge I learned from the UK. After showing them my Marshal Papworth course at Harper Adams University certificate, all of them responded positively and quickly.
“The biggest success I am enjoying after attending the short course is the ability to mobilize stakeholders to work with them for a common goal. For example, Western Seed Company have been helping identify the strongest hybrid varieties, whilst Corteva explained types of early maturing varieties that are best for the short rain season that the farmers I work with experience.” Amongst those Vincent has been working with include Western Seed Company Ltd, Yara, ICIPE, Corteva, DEKALB, SeedCo, Kenya Seed Company LTD, and KALRO.
Using Yara Microp fertiliser on the plots
Vincent’s project will work with 12 farmer groups in his region to help roll out successful cultivations of amaranth – a nutritious alternative to maize – whilst engaging with industry experts to help identify maize varieties that can be grown successfully, even in drought conditions. Kenya has experienced its worst drought in 40 years, with 3.4 million people in extreme poverty and with no food security.
Vincent continued: “I am also looking forward to engaging with processing companies for value addition and marketing farmers’ products; when I was in the UK, we learned that all farms were connected to specific markets. I’ve already identified the companies that I think can help, and I will visit them so that I can help negotiate contracts using the business and communication skills that I developed on the Marshal Papworth short course.” By helping make those value chain connections, Vincent said: “It is possible to create excess revenue to move households out of poverty, this is over and above the obvious benefits of moving children out of malnutrition.”
Vincent also plans to organise a field day for the farmers that he is working with akin to the Arable Event that he attended whilst here in the UK.
Vincent is amongst the seven agricultural development scholarship recipients from Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, that took part in the Marshal Papworth Fund short course at Harper Adams University earlier this year.
Most of the projects shared a common theme of helping smallholder farmers in Africa to access the added value chain of their chosen food production. Vincent said: “The possible excess revenue that farmers can make through the adoption of our learnings is enough to move a household out of poverty and into a good life, this is over and above the nutritional benefits and helping children to access education, especially for girls.”
The Marshal Papworth Fund partners with charities on the ground in developing countries to ensure that the people who can have the most beneficial impact on their communities attend the course. These charities are ADRA Ghana, Hands Around the World, Neno Macadamia Trust, Ripple Effect, Self Help Africa, The Leprosy Mission, and Tree Aid. The Fund, managed by the East of England Agricultural Society and formed in 2001 with funds bequeathed by the late Marshal Papworth, an East Anglian Farmer, works towards helping developing countries across the world in ‘growing out of hunger’ with over 220 students having received a Marshal Papworth Fund scholarship.
To find out more about supporting the Marshal Papworth Fund, please contact Sandra Lauridsen on 01733 961024 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.