SAFFE in UgandaMick Stocks, Director of Berkshire Scout Enterprises and also Deputy County Commissioner for Berkshire works for the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. It is interesting to see the connections which his place of work has with Uganda
For five years Warren Farm in Streatley, Berkshire was run by the Kulika Charitable Trust as a vital training centre for predominantly Ugandan farmers. who were learning sustainable, low technology agricultural methods in order to increase the output of their small-holdings and ultimately, the wealth of their families. Since 1997 the farmers have been registered students of The University of Reading engaged on a Post Experience Diploma in Sustainable Agriculture and Farmer to Farmer Extension (SAFFE).
It was always part of the Trust's aim to transfer the training skills from Warren Farm to Uganda, making the knowledge more accessible to many more farmers via a network of key farmer trainers once they had graduated from The University of Reading. For the past three years Ian Wallace, Rachel Percy and the Agricultural Extension and Rural Development Department of the University have been consultants to the Trust: planning and facilinting that process.
The students were all chosen not only for their commitment to farming but also for their ability to communicate effectively with others in order to transfer the knowledge and skills they had learned to their fellow Ugandans upon their return. Between 1993 and 1999 approximately forty students graduated from the course and these farmers now train others in sustainable agriculture, liasing with local organisations, farmers, women's groups, marketing organisations etc. One graduate has even developed his farm into a training centre after further training from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation.
The future of the work begun by the Kulika Trust and The University of Reading looks very hopeful as the returning graduates transform their small-holdings into profitable businesses and teach others that an organic approach to farming is best. As the founder and chairwoman of the Trust, Patricia Brenninkmeyer savs 'often people land up in debt because modern farming methods damage the ecological balance and ultimately create economic dependency.'
It is hoped that eventually Makerere University in Kampala will take over the recognition of the Diploma Award set up at Reading making it easily accessible to more students in Uganda. The University of Reading has a formal link with Makerere under the auspices of the British Council Higher Education Links, funded by the British Council in Kampala.
Next MeetingThe next meeting of the Network is to be held in Surrey during the weekend of 11,12,13 May 2001. Click here for the latest information. The meeting will concentrate on plans for future expeditions and will give an opportunity to those interested in visiting Uganda to join existing expeditions or plan new ones.
The Network is also well known for its active social life at meetings.
2003 ExpeditionNick Winter, leader of the Uganda 2000 Explorer Belt and Mount Elgon Expeditions is leading a small expedition to climb Mount Elgon and provide an opportunity to gain the Explorer Belt - Venture Scouting's greatest challenge!
For further information about this and other expeditions click here.