School farms is one of our longest running projects, but is also continually evolving. In 2016, more children were fed (6563), more parents got involved in supporting the project (by contributing 2 tonnes of their own maize) and more families replicated the model gardens at school in their own homes, thus improving their own food production. We moved to producing more vegetables, farming chickens and taking schools to an exhibition to show them the latest farming techniques.
Teachers, students and parents are all seeing the impact of having farms at their schools:
“We are so grateful for the support given to us, especially poultry birds. We shall be able to help provide balanced diets and the manure from the birds will be taken to our gardens and this will improve the fertility of our soils and eventually our crop yields will increase without incurring costs of inorganic fertilizers, thanks to a little bit of HOPE.” Mr Anthony Waira-Agric teacher Mulagi said.
Sharon, a student at Mulagi Girls’ School explains what having a school farm means to her. “Whenever we had practical lessons in agriculture in both poultry and crop production we used to go out to other farms and this not only could endanger us as students, but also could be time wasting. But since the introduction of the school farm, we now conduct our agriculture practical lessons like vaccination, feeding programs of birds, crop pest and disease identification and management from our own school farm.”
George is a parent involved in one of the school farms projects. He says “We had never had a school garden at our school and our children had never had lunches while at school, but now we have gardens at school, children are learning modern farming and very soon our children will begin having meals from harvests of their farm at school, something that had never happened in Lughule primary school before.”
In 2016, the government passed a law saying that all schools must provide a lunch for all children. Whilst on the surface, this seems like a positive step forward, many underlying issues arise, including the fact that schools aren’t being given help or support from the government to help make this happen. We plan on being on the forefront in helping schools with this by talking to the district education officials.
This year, we also plan to take on another farm. Three of the original farms will graduate from our programme and we will continue to focus on four of them.
To support our graduate schools, we will be encouraging each school’s parent-teachers associations to get involved.
We’re also going to explore the best ways of storing food after it’s been harvested to reduce post-harvest losses. The UN are currently investing a lot of money into this and we want to take full advantage of it.
Finally, we want three of our schools to invest in woodlots. Not only to generate income, but also for the environmental impact.
It’s going to be a busy year ahead!