Promoting agroecology and its farming practices in Uganda has not been embraced by many farming communities, especially small-scale farmers.
Small-scale farmers have been adopting conventional farming practices which depend on the application of inorganic and synthetic fertilizers that are harmful to soil, environment and human health.
The failure to adopt agroecology farming practices in the country has been attributed to a lack of information and awareness on how small-scale farmers can practice agroecology.
To avert the situation, Eastern and Southern Africa Small-scale Framers’ Forum (ESAFF) Uganda, a farmer-led organization, has come up with a public awareness initiative that targets both small-scale farmers and the younger generation.
ESAFF Uganda initiated the 1st edition of the Schools Agroecology Poem Writing Competition 2023 to create a broader awareness and appreciation of agroecology in Uganda’s secondary and primary schools and agroecology clubs.
The small-scale farmers’ organization is empowering the young generation and the public through the formation of agroecology clubs in various learning institutions in the country.
The agroecology clubs have empowered the younger generation with accurate information about agroecology.
To further entice the younger generation to embrace agroecology, ESAFF Uganda embarked on the National Schools Agroecology Poem Writing Competition 2023 where Rock Primary School from Kasese district and Vision High Secondary School from Mbale district emerged winners at primary and secondary levels respectively.
The best young poets were awarded with bursaries and other gifts.
Among the pupils and students who were awarded bursaries and certificates for being best in the Schools Agroecology Poem Writing Competition include Tumwijukye Victor (P.6) from Rock Primary School who emerged as the overall winner of the competition.
The first runner-up was Agaba Morgan (P.5) from Rock Primary School while Achen Sylvia from Otubet Primary School in Amuria district emerged as the 2nd runner-up at the primary level.
At the secondary level, Wanyenya Esther (S.2) from Vision High Secondary School in Mbale emerged as the best in the competition. Nyirambabariye Peruth (S.3) from Kisoro was the 1st runner up while Odyek Ambrose from Maruzi Seed Secondary School in Apac emerged as the 2nd runner up.
Speaking at the awarding ceremony, Masudio Margret, the ESAFF Board Vice Chairperson, commended Rock Primary School and Vision High Secondary School.
She said that ESAFF Uganda is willing to work with schools to enable learners to be empowered with information related to agroecology.
She commended the proprietors of the schools for accepting to work with ESAFF Uganda towards promoting agroecology farming practices in the learning institutions.
“Participating in the Schools’ Agroecology Poem Writing Competition highlights the school’s exceptional leadership and performance. We hope that the skills that were imparted to the learners will help them in understanding agroecology as the most sustainable farming practice,” said Masudi.
Khaukha Milton, the Head Teacher of Rock Primary School, expressed his gratitude to ESAFF Uganda for organizing the competition. He emphasized the competition’s importance in guiding pupils towards addressing critical issues not only in Uganda but throughout Africa.
“Involving children from the primary level is a paramount strategy for revitalizing our dwindling ecological system. It promotes agroecological farming practices and mitigates the impacts of climate change,” he said.
Pangani Beatrice, the Chairperson of ESAFF Kasese, pledged the organization’s willingness to work with the agroecology clubs in schools.
“It’s only through these clubs that organic farming and agroecological practices can be promoted. agroecological practices play a key role in mitigating climate change which is becoming a global issue. It’s through the adaptation of agroecology that we can restore our environment and ensure food security,” she said.
The Head Teacher of Vision High Secondary, Nangosya Jude, applauded ESAFF Uganda for choosing the school to be part of the few that the farmers’ organization is supporting in running the Agroecology Club.
“We are happy to be chosen out of the many schools. Grooming the young generation through agroecology is essential as they are the change makers” He said.
Speaking at the awarding ceremony, Nancy Mugimba the National Coordinator of ESAFF Uganda, applauded the learners for participating in the 1st Edition of the Schools Agroecology Poem Writing Competition.
She promised to further support the schools with improving their agroecology library. She further highlighted that there will be more competitions such as debates and quizzes for the students. She urged the pupils to participate once the competitions were open.
Making her keynote address as the Patron of the agroecology club at Rock Primary School in Kasese district, Mary Gorett Ithungu requested ESAFF Uganda to provide more support to the club by providing information on making organic pesticides and manure and other relevant information on agroecology to help lure more pupils to the club.
In Mbale district, Obonyo Sam, the Patron Vision High Secondary School Agroecology Club, expressed his gratitude to ESAFF Uganda for organizing the Poem Writing Competition that has brought agroecology sensitization to their school.
“This has helped us agriculture teachers because the club members now know more about agriculture and its practices. We will continue to support all the activities of the agroecology club in the school,” he noted.