African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services

Unlocking the Power of Unity through Famer Field Schools

In 2022, Vibrant We Youth Group emerged as a beacon of hope in Kyakayege village, Katwe sub-county, Sembabule district. Comprising 26 members (8 males and 18 females), the group was united under the leadership of Mahadi Muyise as the chairperson and Orikiriza Joan as the assistant chairperson. Every Sunday at 2pm, these dedicated individuals gathered to foster knowledge sharing and discussions.

Their journey began with a focus on cultivating sweet potatoes and leafy vegetables such as Sukuma wiki, cabbages, and eggplants. The African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services and Food for Agriculture Organization of the United Nations generously supported Vibrant Generation Uganda Youth Empowerment Centre through their project, “Engagement of 75 Unemployed Youth in Eco-Friendly Home Gardening Using Farmer Field Schools Approach.” This grant allowed the youth group to receive comprehensive training in group dynamics, land preparation, enterprise selection, nursery bed establishment, vegetable production, post-harvest handling, value addition, soap making, and ecological farming practices. Their newfound knowledge encompassed mulching, composting, natural pesticides, liquid manure, and the utilization of bottle irrigation.

Thanks to the provision of seeds, sweet potato vines, farm tools, and support from Vibrant Generation Uganda, the farmer field schools approach was successfully introduced to address the challenges hindering youth from accessing agricultural information, training, and necessary inputs. Vibrant Generation Uganda meticulously selected individuals based on criteria that included a willingness to share knowledge and act as community role models, a strong drive to enhance household income, openness to acquiring innovations, availability for training sessions, and an interest in personal development, skills acquisition, and mindset transformation.

Collaborating with community leaders, the group secured land from Great Horizons Secondary School, which was lying unused. In return, the school purchased the group’s produce at a reduced price as compensation for utilizing the land, while also affording the community an opportunity to learn best practices and support the cause.

Within their farmer field school sessions, the group assessed their current situation, identified opportunities and challenges, and devised a detailed plan to realize their vision. Evaluating the soil composition and rainfall patterns, they decided to focus on sweet potato farming as their most viable enterprise. With dedication, they recently harvested 5 bags of sweet potatoes and established an additional quarter-acre field. Recognizing the importance of sustainability, they initiated a small Savings Scheme to accumulate funds from sales and access micro-loans.

“I have been able to access a loan of 50,000/= from the group saving scheme and purchased a piglet which when it gives birth to other piglets, I hope to sell some of these to get money to start up a small business in my senior four vacation”, Ssematimba Peter, a member of Vibrant We can youth group

This remarkable progress can be attributed to the spirit of teamwork cultivated within the farmer field school. As Mahadi, the chairperson, aptly stated, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do much.” The farmer field school instilled participatory learning and bolstered the youth’s self-confidence. While the group still requires further financial and technical support to fortify their farmer field school, they express their gratitude to AFAAS, FAO, the Eastern Africa Farmer Field School hub, for their unwavering support.

Compiled by Kasiita Gerald – CEO & Founder Vibrant Generation Uganda