Ploughing Association to send two Ugandan farmers to agricultural college

The National Ploughing Association (NPA) is sending two farmers from the Mbale VIVA Co-op in eastern Uganda to the prestigious Baraka Agricultural College in Kenya.

The Ugandan farmers are to pursue a course in Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Development.

Upon completion of the course the farmers will return home to farm the land and use their new knowledge to help their local community, the NPA says.

The VIVA (Volunteers in Irish Veterinary Assistance) charity responsible for this initiative was founded as a volunteer-based organisation to support livestock farmers in the developing world.

The Mbale Co-op in eastern Uganda is VIVA’s largest project at present with over 400 farming families coming together to form a farmers Co-op to improve their circumstances, it says.

By introducing ploughing using ploughs pulled by oxen the crop yields and incomes of these farmers have been transformed the NPA says.

So far 276 oxen and 69 ploughs have been distributed amongst the members of the co-op.

Following graduation the two students will return home with new expertise to further enhance farming and good agricultural practices in their locality, the NPA says.

The 16-month course will educate and train the two Ugandan farmers to be efficient, sustainable farmers, trainers of others and facilitators of development in their communities, it says.

NPA Managing Director Anna May McHugh said the Ploughing Association are delighted to be in a position to fund these students to the total cost of €5,000, which will cover their academic course fees, accommodation, food and travel.

“This is an incredibly worthwhile cause and one very close to the NPA’s core ploughing and sustainable farming values.

“The two successful students once graduated from the course will be empowered with knowledge and expert techniques to assist themselves and their neighbours,” she said.

According to Mike Burke of VIVA, the support of the NPA in funding these scholarships is vital in ensuring the sustainability of the project.

“These two farmers will return to their community and have made a commitment to mentor and train their fellow farmers for five years.

They will be a huge educational resource for their community. The co-operation of VIVA and NPA in this unique project (which is part-funded by Irish Aid) is a unique example of solidarity between Irish farmers and vets and their colleagues in the developing world,” he said.