This summer, a smallholder farmer will be swapping life on his plot of land in Uganda for a stay on farms in south west England as part of a drive to bring African voices to the UK.
Charles Mulwana will spend two months on various farms teaching schoolchildren about life in rural Africa, growing techniques and environmental issues under Phase II of Send a Cow’s Grow it Global project.
Such initiatives were welcomed in the recent DEAR Study 2010 into development education policy in Europe. This identified mutual visits as good practice for bringing a southern perspective into development education.
Phase 1 of Grow it Global, which was funded by UKAid, ended in 2011 after three years. It brought a total of seven farmers, mainly women, to the UK, and involved almost 9,000 schoolchildren directly in farm visits.
An external evaluation found its impact had been ‘overwhelmingly positive’. One teacher said: “The whole school is now involved in growing… children love the garden and want to be involved even in their spare time. They are planning ahead and selling crops which gives true insight into sustainability/self-sufficiency.”
While the project’s primary aim was to educate children in the UK, the Ugandan farmers and their UK hosts learned a huge amount too. One UK farmer decided to grow nut trees and reexamine the diversity in their pasture after hosting a Ugandan farmer. Another said: “We are an organic farm and are supposed to be environmentally friendly, but these guys truly show us what sustainability means.”
Charles himself returned to Uganda from an earlier visit determined to buy an apple press to make fruit juice from his own orchards, while another Ugandan farmer learned how to make yoghurt. All of them enjoyed the experience of being an ambassador for their country.
Furthermore, as all the Ugandan farmers are ‘peer farmers’ – training others in their communities – those techniques learned in the UK have the potential to benefit hundreds back home in Uganda.
For more about Grow it Global, please go to www.sendacow.org.uk/growitglobal or contact Education Manager John Cleverley on 01225 874 222.