Cultivating Knowledge on Organic Farming: ESAFF Uganda and Lira University sign MoU.
There will be 330 million young Africans who can't find work by 2025. Accordingly, more food must be produced sustainably to meet the rising demand for consumption, and more employment must be created to accommodate the increase in labour. It matters greatly how we use the right agricultural education and training to meet this challenge and opportunity. To reduce climate change, strengthen food sovereignty, protect the environment, and improve livelihoods, we must develop and train hands-on men and women at all levels who can lead an environmentally friendly and sustainable farm.
Learning institutions are key to conducting research and ensuring that academic knowledge aligns with on-the-ground farmer realities to advance understanding of agroecological principles and practices, which contributes to the development of innovative and context-specific solutions for sustainable farming. ESAFF Uganda believes that they play a crucial role in disseminating agroecological knowledge, offering technical support, and engaging in capacity-building initiatives to encourage the adoption of agroecology. It should be noted that Uganda has 61 public and private universities established by different acts and policies. However, only two universities, i.e., Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi, a private university, and Mountains of the Moon University [a 2021 takeover by the Government of Uganda], have so far appreciated and taken on agro-ecological agriculture courses of learning as a part of their curriculum.
ESAFF Uganda, a Pillar 2 implementing partner under the Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative (EOA-I) supported by SDC and BVAT, is promoting the adoption of the EOA curriculum among universities and other institutions of learning. This draws attention to the agriculture extension service in Uganda, which is a major component of agricultural production, but the present capacities and skills of the extension workers are inclined towards conventional agriculture. In order to advance the practice of organic farming and agroecology at large, there is a need for the agricultural labour force to undergo re-orientation and re-learning processes in terms of farming practices and further develop their competencies in organic farming systems.
On November 10, 2023, ESAFF Uganda and Lira University signed a memorandum of understanding to enable planned activities for the development of the curriculum to commence. This partnership envisions having more young people exposed to ecological organic agriculture farming practices as a means of bringing about a change in knowledge and perspective; additionally, this will aid in re-orienting the extension services programme in the country, with the university producing more extension workers skewed towards agroecological farming practices. The collaboration will further ensure that students understand the importance of agroecology in today's food systems and can effectively interact with their natural environment in order to produce healthy foods without destroying natural resources.
"This is the beginning of a truly transformational partnership. This Memorandum of Understanding will undoubtedly turn our fields into student laboratories and classrooms. In collaboration with Lira University, we plant the seeds of knowledge, creativity, and a more promising, sustainable future for agriculture and youth inclusion." Hakim Baliraine, National Chairperson, ESAFF Uganda.
"It will be a privilege to work with small-scale farmers and other stakeholders .to develop courses that will promote organic agriculture in Uganda" Gad Kwizera, Lira University.
The partnership between Lira University an academic and ESAFF Uganda, a small-scale farmers’ organisation, also lays fertile ground for the interaction between members of academia and small-scale farmers, who are largely custodians of much-needed knowledge, skills, information, and fields for research and learning purposes.