Seven agricultural students from African countries have visited the Great Fen Project at its sites on Woodwalton Fen and near Ramsey to learn about the impact of conservation and how they can transfer those learnings to sustainable farming plans in their own countries.
The students, who are currently half way through their 10 week practical agricultural course at Moulton College, Northamptonshire, enjoyed a talk from reserves officer Helen Bailey, before exploring the area and seeing first-hand how the project is fulfilling its aims to create a naturally resilient landscape, challenge climate change, social benefits as a wildlife escape for town and city dwellers, and economically support local farms and businesses.
Student Assane Gane from Senegal said: “We have seen that returning areas of the Fen to grass and reed wetlands as well as natural woodland helps to reduce soil erosion, reduce dominant weeds through hay and grazing rotations with local farmers, as well as fix up to 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of what is produced by 45,000 local households, through water cover fixing it in the peat. I can definitely see projects like this being beneficial to farming in Africa to help the effects of climate change as well as protect areas of woodland that are often burned for charcoal production.”
Caroline Andango works as an agricultural extension officer in her home country of Kenya, where she helps develop agricultural practices and train farmers, indicated that there is much to learn from the Great Fen Project and its vision and practices. “We have seen that the success of this project relies mainly on volunteers, and giving local people a sense of ownership to the land around them is definitely valuable. Tree and wetland conservation like we have seen today is definitely transferable to Kenya to help soil management.” Caroline continued: “When it comes down to the brass tacks, we all, wherever we come from, want the same things for our families and communities, and seeing all of the projects that we have as part of this course reminds us not to just stay in our little corner of the world and look at how to tackle our agricultural and environmental challenges in different ways.”
This year’s short course students are amongst the 184 students that the Marshal Papworth Fund has supported to date, equipping them with practical and sustainable agricultural solutions to enable communities in developing countries in growing themselves out of hunger. In order to continue these opportunities for students from the developing countries and benefit more communities, the charity relies on donations from individuals and businesses. To find out more and to make a donation contact Sandra Lauridsen on 01733 363514 or email [email protected] for more information.