Posted 19 July
“The knowledge we’ve gained is not only important for us, but will also benefit our people as we will share it with them."
A 10-week-course run at Harper Adams University for students from African and Asian countries has come to an end.
The Marshal Papworth Fund (MPF) short course was completed by 11 scholars this year, who came from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi and Sri Lanka.
The tailor-made course is designed for students who want to help their communities develop a sustainable future in a practical way. During their time at the university, they attended classroom sessions, practical lessons on the university’s farm and also visited locations across the UK; including the Staffordshire County Show.
One of the students, Florence Agunda from Kenya said: “This training has been a good thing that I can use to help my community and my country. I’ve gained many skills that I can take back to the farmers and help us increase yields. I know the farmers are going to be happy.
“We’ve had the opportunity to learn about conservation agriculture. We’ve been taught about soil; including minimum tillage. We went out into the field and also the laboratories. We’ve also learnt how trees can help us.”
“I’ve seen an opportunity for timber and I’ve found it very impressive," added Kalifa Traore from Burkina Faso. "I want to try it in my country; for example I see an opportunity for us to plant mahogany and have a market here in the UK for it.
“Currently, at home we value fruit trees and not the timber that we could grow. This would provide a way for hunger resilience.”
Joseph Adonna from Ghana said: “Oak, ash and timber are marketed around here. We cut down a lot of trees but don’t replace. I can see that forestry is a good business; when you invest and are patient, you can make money.”
Other students said they were keen to try and create poultry or pig production enterprises when they returned home.
Reverend Joshua Savignanam from Sri Lanka works for Kaveri Kala Manram (KKM). He said: “For the past 15 years, The Leprosy Mission England and Wales has been working with us. In Sri Lanka we’re working quite differently for the people and families affected by leprosy; we’re mostly working on looking at how they can increase their income from their livelihoods as well as using some special methodologies to help reduce their expenses to reduce their poverty.
“The mission thought that it would be useful for me to attend this training, and take what I’d learnt back home with me.
“Through agriculture, I believe we can bring peace as it brings communities together.”
Charity Chimphamba from Malawi said: “I’d like to thank the MPF for supporting us. We’ve benefited a lot from the course here at Harper Adams.
“The knowledge we’ve gained is not only important for us, but will also benefit our people as we will share it with them.
“The MPF has therefore contributed a lot to the sustainable development of our communities. I hope that they continue doing this and let others learn and have the opportunities that we have. It’s a very good initiative.”
Mitch Crook, Programmes Manager at Harper Adams University, said: “The students have had a mixture of academic sessions from subject specialists, practical sessions on the farm to learn about animal husbandry and crop agronomy and site visits.
“They have also completed the City and Guilds Introduction to Trainer Skills course, as well as attend the East of England Showground’s Food and Farming event and set up and ran the Global Market place at the event.
“Time has gone so quickly and the group have all been attentive and passionate throughout and we have high confidence that the skills that they have learnt will be beneficial when they return home.
“It’s wonderful to progress with this partnership with the MPF and we're proud to be able to offer the programme on their behalf, and thank the MPF for their confidence in Harper Adams in the delivery of this crucial programme.
“The students gain immensely from being able to ultilise the excellent resources that Harper Adams has available.”
For the course’s finale, the students gave presentations on the projects they’ve promised to work on after returning back home. The presentations are available on the Marshal Papworth Fund website. Following the presentations, the students were presented with a certificate to mark their achievements.
During the event, Tom Arthey, Chairman of the MPF said: “Thank you to the students for attending this course. We know how much you have to do to come here; you are leaving your families and communities to come here. But it’s so that you can make a real contribution to your communities.”
Video: the scholars give their thanks to MPF and Harper Adams through a special song.