Sunday February 25 2018

When a head of state teaches farming

By Michael J. Ssali

Last week we got press reports that President Museveni was harvesting pineapples, bananas, passion fruit, mushrooms, and fish on a farm that he reportedly established only last year during the prolonged dry spell at Kawumu Village, Mawale Sub-county in Luwero District.
He reportedly attributed this remarkable success to his decision to embrace modern farming techniques like drip irrigation.
One local newspaper referred to the farm as Kawumu Presidential Demonstration Farm which seems to suggest that the farm is open to members of the public who wish to learn new farming skills.
But did we have to wait all this long to learn farming techniques like drip irrigation from our president’s demonstration farm?
It has often been mentioned in this column that since we profess to be an agricultural country, every school should have a farm or a garden where children are taught practical agricultural skills including the use of bottles to conduct drip irrigation.
This is what Mwalimu Julius Nyerere emphasized in his “Education for Self-Reliance”.
Our education system should prepare the children for the realities of life, the needs, and the service of the villages and towns where they live in order to create wealth.
Apart from teaching subjects like mathematics, geography, biology, and history, the schools should teach poultry, vegetable production, coffee production etc.
Teachers’ colleges should turn out more agriculture teachers.
Nyerere said, “Every school should also be a farm; the school community should consist of people who are both teachers and farmers, and pupils and farmers. Obviously if there is a school farm the pupils working on it should be learning the techniques and tasks of farming.”
He went on to demonstrate that if school gardens are well managed they can enormously contribute towards school income.
He also demonstrated that through school farms the pupils can learn about keeping farm records and the advantages of working in groups or co-operatives.
Another effort to teach farmers about modern farming skills especially in today’s times of climate change would be the establishment of government demonstration farms in every sub-county where farmers go and copy how things are done.