One year of changing lives for Marshal Papworth sustainable agriculture scholars
Just over a year on from their studies, seven lead farmers and agricultural extension workers from across Africa have begun to measure the impact of their scholarship on the communities that they returned to. Having shared some of their stories in October, the Fund now has updates from a few more of the alumni.
The students attended the Marshal Papworth Fund’s bespoke 10-week practical course at Harper Adams University in the summer of 2022, before returning home to roll out their newfound sustainable agriculture theories and practical solutions across a range of challenges to food security in their regions.
In Ghana, Robert Tumyagewor Atawura, works as a Development Worker with TreeAid, where he immediately began to work on the tree vegetable nutrition programme that he worked on whilst on the Marshal Papworth course, extending it to over 1,500 farmers across 60 communities. Robert said: “On my return, I started my project in the Latagim community in the Yendi municipality. Women were put into groups and educated to grow and nature moringa and baobab vegetables in their community nutritional gardens so they could harvest fresh leavy vegetables for consumption. The women were encouraged to grow more of the tree-based vegetables, since to have enough of a harvest for both processing into secondary, marketable products, and consumption at the household level.”
“The training received during my 10-week programme played a vital role in motivating me to implement the project with support from TreeAid. Knowledge gained through my field trips has really put me in the best position to educate my farmers and as a role model to do their best. Demonstrations and activities are now delivered practically so that farmers can appreciate things well. Training received around facilitation, practical demonstrations, diverse knowledge base and gender inclusion has shaped and changed my approach of delivery in training sessions to my farmers.”
Robert delivering a training session to women farmers in the Yendi municipality, Ghana
Also returning to Ghana is peer farmer James Biitir, who is working on his own private farm producing maize and cassava for the local Ghanaian market. “I have approached my farming project with an entirely different mind-set as I am now more conscious of soil health. At Harper Adams University, I learnt about how compost and animal manure improve soil health, structure and texture which goes a long way to improve crop yields. I have therefore cut down on the use of chemical fertilizers on my farm and this has reduced my cost of production, and I now use poultry droppings to augment soil nutrients.”
Another 2022 graduate is Vincent Ekapolon, working as a Peer Farmer Trainer with Ripple Effect in Kenya. His course project centred on natural resource management. Vincent said: “So far, I have trained 12 groups on natural resource management and climate smart agricultural technologies – for example, back yard gardening to realise diverse nutritional balance within our homesteads. The groups were also trained on the importance of soil conservation and the various technologies that apply in different land topography. To aid in carbon absorption we established a community tree nursery and so far, 12,000 seedlings have been planted in our public institutions.”
“The Marshal Papworth ten- week training programme has helped me in many ways. Starting at my own farm, I diversified my farm enterprise to poultry, and currently I have laying hens that have really increased my income. My dairy cow milk production has also increased by 4-litres per day. The skills I gained on land preparation has brought a significant change especially on the germination rate of cereals across my community, whilst the plant population per acre has also improved, translating to an increase in yield.”
Vincent checking over the vegetable towers in one of his homestead gardening projects
Managed by the East of England Agricultural Society, the Marshal Papworth Fund has forged partnerships with charities based in country since its inception in 2001, to enable the selection of students most likely to roll those new sustainable agriculture learnings out successfully in their communities, and thereby positively impact the most lives. Those charities worked with include ADRA Ghana, Hands Around The World, Leprosy Mission, Ripple Effect, Self Help Africa, Teyapi4Peace and Tree Aid.
Marshal Papworth Fund coordinator, Sandra Lauridsen, said: “Our students are demonstrating the real spirit of Marshal Papworth in how they are approaching the roll-out of their sustainable agriculture programmes. When our late founder, Marshal Papworth, bequeathed his estate to establish the Fund, the vision was to help communities in developing countries to help themselves grow out of hunger. The work our alumni are doing in their home countries is changing lives for the better every day – we never tire of hearing the impact of their studies.”
The Marshal Papworth Fund provides scholarships for students from developing countries, including year-long Masters MSc scholarships to leading UK agricultural universities and colleges, and this bespoke 10-week short course, developed with Harper Adams University. The Fund has just welcomed its 250th student to be educated at UK agricultural universities as part of the Marshal Papworth Fund scholarship schemes.