Agroecology Schools Strengthened to Promote Agroecological Practices in Communities.
Agroecology is necessary for farming communities in Uganda as it offers a sustainable method of farming that can provide food security and means of subsistence while preserving the environment. Agroecology places focus on using resources that are close at hand and varied production methods that are tailored to the local environment. It is also important to note that Agroecology improves soil fertility, boosts crop yields grown locally, uses fewer chemical inputs, and saves water and energy. Agroecology contributes to improved livelihoods and food security in Uganda by boosting the resilience of farming communities to produce.
Over time, ESAFF Uganda has promoted Agroecology in many spheres both in the farming communities and in learning institutions. In the western region, ESAFF Uganda has established 5 community Agroecology schools including Kisanga, Bunyandiko, Road Barrier Upper, Nyamwamba, and St. Cecilia Community Agroecology Schools and 2 Agroecology Clubs at Rock Primary School and Kilembe Secondary School. These Agroecology schools and clubs offer members with hands-on experience in the different Agroecological practices aimed at the achievement of sustainable food systems in the region by ensuring food and seed sovereignty.
From 28th February to 3rd March 2023, ESAFF Uganda strengthened the community Agroecology schools in the western region. Community Agroecology schools were supported to form structures that will guide the operation of the schools and IEC materials. During this period, ESAFF Uganda held a meeting with the Local Chairperson IIIs and the Agricultural Extension Workers from the 4 divisions in Kasese of Central, Nyamwamba, Kilembe, and Bulembia on the existence and support of the community Agroecology schools and clubs in the district. The meeting took place in Kasese and it was attended by 9 local leaders who were introduced to the concept of Agroecology and the need for the promotion of Agroecology in the community for sustainable food systems in Uganda through the community Agroecology schools and Agroecology clubs.
Local government leaders and the Agricultural Extension Workers in Kasese district pledged to fully support community Agroecology schools as they provide communities with the knowledge, skills, tools, and technical support necessary to lead a sustainable and productive agricultural system. The community Agroecology schools offer a unique learning experience that combines traditional farming practices with modern scientific principles, enabling communities to make informed decisions about their food production and consumption. The support from local leaders and agricultural extension workers is a testament to their commitment to helping communities achieve food security and increased economic prosperity through the promotion of Agroecology. With their guidance and support, Agroecology schools will have access to the resources and knowledge necessary to make the transition to community-led Agroecology and sustainable food systems. With the collaboration, the Agroecology schools and clubs were positioned to benefit from the government programs in the region.
According to Hon. Bwambale Pauline - Chairperson LC III Kilembe division, he noted that the community Agroecology schools and clubs need political support for them to benefit from the government programs. He directed the Agricultural Extension Officer in his division to always support the members of the community Agroecology schools for free as it is their mandate.
“We are fully facilitated and ready to offer technical support to the community Agroecology schools and clubs in my area” Kakye Milton, Agricultural Extension Officer Kilembe said. However, according to the district farmer leader ESAFF Kasese, Pangani Beatrice, she noted that once they call the agricultural extension officers to support them, they always ask for fuel and lunch facilitation something that Mr. Kakye didn’t agree with.
During the meeting, key actions were developed for strengthening the community Agroecology schools and these included;
Working together with the Local Government officials in monitoring ESAFF Uganda projects including community Agroecology schools in the district.
Raising awareness by the local leaders on the existence of community Agroecology schools in the western region.
Supporting the establishment of more community Agroecology schools in the region for the promotion of sustainable food systems in the community.
Organizing the exposure and exchange visits to established community Agroecology schools in the region.
Having a Focal Person/Project Coordinator in the western region from the local government that will coordinate the operations of the community Agroecology schools.
ESAFF is committed to working together with local leaders, community members and academic institutions in the western region to promote Agroecology through community Agroecology schools. Local leaders' support of community Agroecology schools is essential in ensuring sustainability. Local government support also helps to amplify the impact of these schools and clubs by connecting them to other Agroecology initiatives in the area. This can help to create a supportive and collaborative environment that encourages further growth and innovation by the community Agroecology school members. This support also helps to ensure that the schools receive recognition and support from their local communities. This can be invaluable for creating a culture of Agroecology that can help to create a brighter approach for everyone in the food systems.