Harper Adams University: African students welcomed for sustainable agriculture short course

A group of students from Africa have been welcomed at Harper Adams University to begin a 10-week course in sustainable agriculture.

The students – from Ghana, Kenya and Malawi – are the latest cohort to take part in the short course at the University. Their course is funded by agricultural development charity, the Marshal Papworth Fund, which is managed by the East of England Agricultural Society and provides agricultural scholarships for students from developing countries.

They are the first cohort to return after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic and have already taken part in an online short course with Harper Adams academics and staff.

This year’s scholars include two peer-to-peer farmer trainers that work with Send A Cow, a Tree Aid project officer, a development facilitator for Self Help Africa, and two agricultural extension agent and agricultural field agent for ADRA Ghana.

By partnering with these charities, the Fund ensures that students are selected that can most benefit from the practical course, both personally and in their capacity to help spread the knowledge in their home communities, fulfilling the Marshal Papworth Fund motto of ‘growing out of hunger’.

On day one of the course, students were encouraged to define the outcomes they wanted from the course, with popular themes including: becoming ambassadors in their communities as knowledge carriers; developing a global network of scholars for shared knowledge transfer; and serving as agents for change to develop land and help communities to help grow their way out of poverty through more sustainable farming.

Topics covered will include soil management, animal production, crop protection and minimising post-harvest losses, as well as some practical classes in business and financial planning, computer skills, and frequent farm visits to support the course and enable the students to engage with farmers on a practical level.

Tom Arthey, chairman of the Marshal Papworth Fund said: “The committee is delighted that after two years, we now have students back at Harper Adams University – a world-class learning environment. We know that every student that graduates from our sustainable agriculture course goes home and shares their new skills with hundreds if not thousands of members of their community; this course is all about knowledge transfer – from the university team and their fellow students as well as farmers that support us with farm visits, and then delivering that back to their communities.”

Edmore Mashatise, Lecturer in Sub-Saharan and Tropical Agriculture and leader of the Marshal Papworth Fund course at Harper Adams University, explains why Harper Adams University feel so passionately about hosting the course: “We are delighted to host the second cohort of the 10-week residential short course in sustainable agriculture at Harper Adams University. We are very grateful for the partnership we have with the Marshal Papworth Fund, who provides full scholarships that enables students from developing countries to travel to the UK and attend the short course programme.

“As a university we have carefully designed and prepared a teaching schedule for the students that is packed with both theory and practical elements of sustainable farming that we believe will consolidate and stretch the knowledge and skills of the course participants. To further extend and maximise student learning the course team has also included many visits to farms, agricultural shows, and cultural sites.

“We urge the 2022 cohort to maximise their time here as they interact with Harper Adams University’s world leading experts during the 10-week course. It is our fervent hope that the newly acquired knowledge and skills will be used wisely by the course participants upon their return home to transform communities by helping them to be both food and financially secure.”

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