Record fifteen students from developing countries start life changing agricultural course at Harper Adams University with Marshal Papworth Fund
A record fifteen students from eight developing countries were welcomed to Harper Adams University this week by Vice Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan, as they started their 10-week scholarship in sustainable farming at the university, funded by the Marshal Papworth Fund, an agricultural development charity solely managed by the East of England Agricultural Society.
Professor Ken Sloan greeted the students: “This is such an important programme, both to the Marshal Papworth Fund but also to Harper Adams University. We always had a mission to make sure we secure the future of agriculture and the fact that we can do that by connecting people from different countries and continents is absolutely wonderful,”
He continued: “When you give access to education, it creates communities and networks and friendships, and what we really want is to make sure that you thoroughly enjoy your time here, that you find the course exceptionally useful, but thirdly that when you return to your own communities that you are able to take skills, understanding and expertise with you and hopefully through that, transform the lives of other people.”
The students from Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia, were selected by the charity partners of the Marshal Papworth Fund, including ADRA Ghana, Hands Around The World, Leprosy Mission, Ripple Effect, Teyapi4Peace and Tree Aid. Sandra Lauridsen, co-ordinator of the Marshal Papworth Fund, said: “We work really closely with our partners in country, who are able to identify lead farmers, teachers and trainers who are already so committed to helping their communities to farm more productively and sustainably, thereby ensuring that we have students on the course who are going to really take this practical farming course back and make a real difference.”
Many of the students are already spearheading projects at home, including Michel Cyiza, working with Hands Around The World in Rwanda as a school garden supervisor and entrepreneurship teacher. Noticing that the unpredictability of both price and availability of food at markets was impacting the food his school could provide students, Michel set up school garden plots to take back control of that food security. The practical skills he will acquire and develop in the next 10-weeks is designed to help him roll out that programme to other schools and ensure that children in his community have access to at least one quality meal through school daily.
As well as helping students to fine tune and innovate their agricultural practices for farming sustainably and productively, the course also covers key themes of conservation. Sipora Aluka, working with Teyapi4Peace in Uganda, said: “Deforestation is a huge problem in Uganda, so I am excited to learn how to cultivate trees that will help our communities both now and in the future.”
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. To date, 243 students have been educated at UK agricultural universities as part of the Marshal Papworth Fund scholarship schemes.
Representing the Marshal Papworth Fund on the day, committee member Steve Harris said: “There is an incredible atmosphere here today and the students are already working well together. Fifteen students is the most we have ever had on the short course, and we are delighted to have them here. Marshal wanted one student to come over to the UK to receive an agricultural education before going home and spreading that knowledge, and now we are heading towards the 250 mark – an amazing achievement that we are all very proud to be involved in.”