The National Ploughing Association, founded almost 85 years ago to help develop farming in Ireland, which was then in the doldrums, is now helping a co-op in Uganda to use new knowledge to develop its land.
Two farmers, Julius Itiakorit and Solomon Ajak, who are from the Mbale VIVA Co-op in eastern Uganda, are being funded by the NPA to attend Baraka Agricultural College in Kenya and are reported to be thriving in the experience.
On completion of the course in sustainable agriculture and rural development, the farmers will return home to work the land and use their new knowledge to help their local community.
The 16-month course, which started last summer, is educating and training the two students to be efficient, sustainable farmers, trainers of others and facilitators of development in their communities.
NPA managing director Anna May McHugh said the association is delighted to fund these students to the total cost of €5,000, which is covering 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. Both students are impressive and once they have graduated from the course they will be empowered with knowledge and expert techniques to assist themselves and their neighbours,” she said.
Mike Burke of VIVA said the MPA support in funding these scholarships is vital in ensuring the project’s sustainability.
Each student has 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, part-funded by Irish Aid, is an example of solidarity between Irish farmers and vets and those in the developing world, he said. VIVA (Volunteers in Irish Veterinary Assistance), the charity responsible for this initiative, was founded as a volunteer-based organisation to support livestock farmers in the developing world.
Mbale Co-op is VIVA’s largest project with over 400 farming families coming together to form a farmers co-op to improve their circumstances.
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