Harper Adams University: Marshal Papworth sustainable agriculture skills course returns – with new online element

A course which has seen scholars from developing countries study at Harper Adams University and develop sustainable agriculture skills has returned after a two-year hiatus – with a new online element.

The Marshal Papworth Fund works with Harper Adams and charity partners to provide sustainable agriculture courses and has welcomed 26 students from seven developing countries – Burkina Faso, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia – to an online short course over recent weeks. The course is designed to complement and enrich the following in-person course at Harper Adams, with successful scholars on the online course progressing to the 10-week residential course at the University later this year.

This will be the first time the course has run after a two year pause as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and the new online course has been designed to bolster the learning it provides even further.

Marshal Papworth Fund chairman, Tom Arthey, said: “We know from speaking to our alumni of over 200 students that the benefits of delivering our sustainable agriculture course in person in the UK, with all the access to Harper Adams’ amazing teaching staff and resources, farm and field visits that we organise and shared experiences from across different countries, are all critical to its success and the impact that our alumni go on to have when they return home.

“However, we wanted to offer an online element this year to allow those students, who have all deferred their places from 2021, to really hit the ground running with many of the fundamental elements of the course already under their belts.”

The six week long online course runs as a precursor to the full 10-week UK residential course delivered at Harper Adams University. Students must demonstrate their engagement and achievement on the online course to progress to the residential course – and Edmore Mashatise, Lecturer in Sub-Saharan and Tropical Agriculture and leader of the Marshal Papworth Fund course at Harper Adams University, explained what the course will entail.

He said: “The aim of the Online Short Course is to train Field Officers and Lead Farmers from developing countries modern agricultural methods and practices; the trained course recipients will then go home and share with their communities the newly acquired knowledge and skills to enhance food security.”

The Fund, managed by the East of England Agricultural Society and formed in 2001 with funds bequeathed by the late Marshal Papworth, an East Anglian Farmer, works towards helping developing countries across the world in ‘growing out of hunger.’

The residential short course at Harper Adams University welcomes students nominated by the Fund’s charity partners, who are on the ground in the developing world – and therefore able to ensure students that can benefit the most, both personally and in their capacity to help educate their home communities, take part.

These charities are ADRA Ghana, Hands Around the World, Neno Macadamia Trust, Self Help Africa, Send a Cow, The Leprosy Mission and Tree Aid.

Self Help Africa’s Mary Sweeney explained how she had worked to develop material for the course.

She said: “I’ve shared material on gender, looking at power and how change happens, as well as material on emphasising the importance of disability and youth inclusion in development work. If development isn’t engendered, then I believe it’s endangered and can’t bring about real change if 50% of the population isn’t included in decisions that affect their lives.”

And Julie Kragulj, from The Leprosy Mission, has recorded a session on ‘afeguarding: measures to protect the health, wellbeing and human rights of children, young people and vulnerable adults.’She said: “I think this is important as safeguarding is a fundamental and cross-cutting issue that needs to be woven into all aspects of an organisation’s work, for them to provide a safe environment where everyone involved is safe, able to thrive and feels confident to raise any concerns. By providing this session early on, students will be able to approach the rest of their learning with safeguarding always in mind.”

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