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Welcome to the autumn edition of the Agromisa Bulletin. In this Bulletin we discuss the educational activities of Agromisa. The Agrodoks are the most visible aspect of Agromisa's teaching 'branch'. In this Bulletin we show how Agrodoks are used in class rooms and in farms all over the world.
 
In the development of new Agrodoks, as well as in the contribution of Agromisa in educational projects, we think the knowledge that is provided should be practical: after reading an Agrodok the student can, so to speak, go into the garden and begin applying the content of the Agrodok. On the other hand, this knowledge is transferred in such a way that it leaves room for contributions of the readers: they can still rely on their own experiences and ideas, that can be deepened by the knowledge found in the Agrodok. In fact, that is how the Agrodoks come to existence: they contain knowledge that is tested in the field.

The introduction to this Bulletin gives an overview of what follows. We show you how this thinking about education and teaching can be identified in Agromisa's contribution to projects in Uganda and in Afghanistan. In the SILC approach the experiences in these two projects will come together.
 
The texts of this Bulletin were written by Marilyn Minderhoud.
 
If you have input or suggestions for the ongoing updates of our Agrodok series, or would like to collaborate on this, please feel free to contact us via agromisa@wur.nl.

To continue our work, your donation to Agromisa is welcome. It helps us to develop and distribute new practical publications to farmers and their organisations and schools in developing countries.

Warm regards,
Agromisa

Agricultural education and training: information, advice and support


Agromisa is involved in a series of projects that focus on developing agricultural materials for schools and training colleges in Africa, Asia and Latin America. These publications are prepared by subject matter specialists and experts with practical field experience. They are increasingly being used by educational organizations in need of relevant and up-to-date information to stimulate the development of small-scale rural economies. Agromisa's publications can be found all over the world.
 
In Afghanistan, for example, Agromisa provided materials and advice to the Afghan-Dutch Technical, Vocational and Educational Training Project (ATVET); in Uganda, through the Connect to Uganda (C2U) network, Agromisa contributed to school farm projects in Bukomansimbi, Southern Uganda. The Amazon Foundation is also using Agromisa’s handbooks to develop educational materials for schools in the Amazon region. The increasing number of requests for Agromisa’s publications and advice reflects the positive experience of training colleges, schools and curriculum development centres that work with Agromisa’s handbooks and specialized publications.
 
This Agromisa Bulletin provides an insight into the way Agromisa, through its publications and network of research and development organizations, has contributed to projects in Afghanistan and Uganda. The experiences in these projects have led to a reconsidering of the fundamentals of teaching: work in the field inspires teaching materials, that have impact on the work in the field.

An example of this 'method' is Pieter Temminck’s work in the Bukomansimbi district in Southern Uganda: Agromisa’s work with agricultural students from WUR and STOAS on developing educational material from selected Agrodoks contributed to the setting up and management of school farms in the district. This work also inspired AOC Oost to the Connect to Uganda project, that brought together students from the Netherlands and from Uganda, developing sustainable agricultural practices. Also, the emerging development of the concept of a Sustainable International Learning Community, will find its basis in Agromisa's education and teaching philosophy.

Agricultural education as a development tool: the Ugandan experience


The exchange of experiences between those involved in documenting agricultural research and practice, and those responsible for education and training, can have a direct and positive impact on the productivity and livelihoods of small-scale farming communities in developing countries. Pieter Temminck’s work on projects in Uganda well illustrates this process.

Temminck teaches sociology at AOC Oost, a school where students, who want to become professionally involved in the agricultural sector, can follow courses and gain practical experience. His work involves developing assignments that will give his students insight into the structure and dynamics of urban and rural societies.
 
In 2008, Temminck’s head of department drew his attention to an article about the way the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs was encouraging schools to develop projects that would increase young people’s awareness of daily life in other societies and cultures.
For Temminck, who grew up in Indonesia and Sumatra and as an adult has travelled extensively in West Africa and Kenya, the next step was clear. He set about developing a project that would bring his students, many from farming communities in the eastern Netherlands, in contact with youngsters in schools located in rural areas with very different environmental, economic and social conditions.
In 2010, through his contacts in Uganda, he was able to arrange for 16 students and 4 teachers to help develop a school farm at an Ugandan boarding school. This school farm would be used to teach pupils how to manage soil, water and other resources in ways that would allow nutritious grains, fruits and vegetables to be grown. The school farm would lead to an improvement in boarding school meals; it would also show local farmers how local resources can be used to achieve sustainable increases in farm productivity.
 
The results of this project generated extremely positive reactions. Efforts were made to find partner organizations able to develop similar agriculturally-oriented projects for other Ugandan schools. This involved preparing appropriate agricultural teaching and training materials. Among the sources of information were the Agrodoks on composting, irrigation, chicken farming, goat keeping, vegetable cultivation and beekeeping. Advice and guidance were provided by Marg Leijdens and Cris de Klein, Agromisa volunteers who had been involved in developing agricultural education materials and teaching methods for the Afghanistan ATVET programme - thus showing how the fundamentals of Agromisa's educational ideas lead to programmes that can be applied in different circumstances.
 
 
PHOTO LEFT: Students show posters used to illustrate the methods described in the Agrodok handbooks
PHOTO RIGHT: Pieter Temminck on a school farm in Uganda

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Connect to Uganda


Agromisa is involved in the Connect to Uganda (C2U) project, initiated by AOC Oost, Windesheim Honours College, the municipality of Deventer and two Ugandan NGOs (Up4S and Kinderen voor Uganda). C2U focuses on increasing the food security of small-scale farming communities. It does so by improving agricultural education at school level as well as stimulating the exchange of ideas and experiences with local farming communities. AOC Oost became especially involved in the school in the Bukomansimbi district of Southern Uganda.

AOC Oost approached Agromisa for information and advice on tropical agricultural knowledge for this project. C2U aims at stimulating agricultural and economic development via school farms and micro-agricultural business projects. Improved agricultural and vocational training was seen as essential. Agromisa became involved in the development of teaching and vocational training materials for school children, young people and local farmers.

In 2014, for example, seven students who followed the Academic Consultancy Training (ACTs) programme at WUR spent three months evaluating a permaculture school farm for Hoys College in Bukomansimbi, a college with considerable rural outreach. The students produced a comprehensive report together with a series of maps showing how the school farm could be developed in order to stimulate learning and to generate income. A year later, Agromisa, cooperating with AOC Oost, arranged and supervised the internship of a STOAS student at the same college. Over a period of five months the student did research into local beekeeping practices and, using the Agrodok handbook Beekeeping in the tropics, prepared a vocation-orientated course on beekeeping for school use.
 
Currently Agromisa is evaluating the impact of the Ugandan projects that have used its publications and expertise. It is also working with educational and development organizations to identify how it can continue to provide small-scale farming communities, policy makers and agricultural extension services with the information needed to stimulate sustainable agricultural practices and improve local livelihoods.
 
More information on Connect2Uganda: 
http://www.connect2uganda.nl/nl/


PHOTOS from top to bottom:
1. Dutch students and Ugandan pupils work on developing a school farm
2. Temminck showing the Agrodok in use in Uganda
3. Visiting the permaculture farm
4. AOC Oost pupils prepare an irrigation system in the school garden at Bukomansimbi
 

Afghan-Dutch Technical, Vocational and Educational Training Project


Agricultural production in Afghanistan had been disastrously affected by thirty years of war. When in 2010 US and NATO troops withdrew, they left a country dependent on imports and food aid, where it once had been a net exporter of agricultural products.

The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture offered support to re-establish Afghanistan's agricultural economy. In 2011, through contacts with Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR) a team that included the Centre for Development and Innovation (CDI) and Agromisa came together to work on the Afghan-Dutch Technical, Vocational and Educational Training Project (ATVET). The aim of ATVET was to contribute to rebuilding Afghanistan's agricultural capacity by stimulating agricultural education. This involved setting-up an agricultural teachers' training college, increasing the number of agricultural high schools and developing curricula and interactive lesson materials for in-service teachers.
Hardly any agricultural educational facilities had survived the war. Schools were reduced to working with outdated textbooks and materials. ATVET’s objectives, therefore, were to update the national curricula, develop new and relevant teaching materials and train teachers in how to use them.
A National Agricultural Education Centre (NAEC) was set up in Kabul to provide a two year teacher training course. That would emphasize, for example, animal and plant science, agribusiness development and rural sociology. The NAEC approach was practical and innovative and on site were permaculture fields and greenhouses.
Agromisa became closely involved when twenty Afghan MA students came to Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Science to follow courses in teaching. Together with students from the WUR Education and Competence Studies programme, Agromisa worked on developing lesson plans and teaching methods that would contribute to NAEC objectives. Special attention was given to involving women in agricultural education: teaching was one of the few careers considered acceptable for Afghan women.

Among the publications Agromisa prepared were Afghan markets and chains and Land and Water. Together with the student textbooks that the MA students had developed, these were reviewed and eventually translated into Dari and Pashto.

By 2015, lesson modules on farm management, farm economics, marketing, irrigation and plant protection have been finalised using information derived from sources that included the Agrodok handbooks. A Manual for interactive teaching has also been developed.

More information about the ATVET project on the WUR website
 
PHOTO: Teachers and students preparing materials at NAEC, Kabul

Sustainable International Learning Community (SILC)


The concept of a Sustainable International Learning Community (SILC) emerged as a result of the Ugandan experiences of Agromisa, AOC Oost and Windesheim Honours College. SILC stresses the importance of a community approach when working on agricultural education projects.

The concept has not yet been radically developed or thought through, but the basic idea is that such a community can create synergy. It brings together (international) educational institutes, local government and local agribusiness. By exchanging experiences and information they can develop a firm basis for their educational activities. Also, they can stimulate students and provide them with the skills needed to generate an income in the food and agribusiness sector.
 
Agromisa feels that this concept could be promising and is supportive. Its contribution can be: helping students develop the skills needed to adapt their knowledge to practical situations; working on standardizing curricula; designing interactive teaching methods; and co-operating with students and experts of different cultures and background to develop new Agrodok-based materials.

Also, the concept of SILC, once firmly tested and grounded, might provide a basis for the development of materials and activities that can be used at Agromisa's future projects. Yet, much work still has to be done before this concept could be helpful.

Agrodoks used in the Uganda project


In his work at the school in Bukomansimbi, Uganda, Pieter Temminck used several Agrodoks as teaching material. Here is a selection. These and other Agrodoks can be ordered via Agromisa's webshop.
Storage of tropical agricultural products, Agrodok Agromisa

Beekeeping in the tropics

In this Agrodok the authors describe different ways of beekeeping. The composition of a colony is basically the same worldwide, but how bees are managed must take account of the type of bee as well as local vegetation and climate conditions. The authors advise those intending to take up beekeeping to start by finding out how bees are being kept in their area. Experienced beekeepers with local knowledge how to manage indigenous bees and the materials and techniques available to process their products are an important source of information.

Different types of hives are described as well as the factors that must be taken into account when choosing hive sites and hiving swarms. The equipment beekeepers need for feeding their bees and collecting bee products are described in detail. Particular attention is given to the diseases and pests that can destroy a colony and the importance of seasonal management to ensure sustainable production.
This Agrodok is a useful source of information for those working to improve community beekeeping practices.

Agrodok 32 Beekeeping in the tropics is available in English and French.

Packaging of agricultural products, Agrodok Agromisa, French

The home garden in the tropics


The home garden in the tropics replaces the Agrodok The vegetable garden in the tropics which treated the garden as a series of plots for the production of vegetable crops. The authors, Ed Verheij and Henk Waiijenberg, emphasize the importance of creating a garden that can provide farm households with vegetables and other products even where the gardener faces water shortages. Hedges, trees and shrubs that can give a garden a permanent character are discussed in detail.

Gardens must be planned and set up in a way that falls within the capacity of the farm family to maintain and manage them over time. In this context the selection of plants whether perennial or annual is important but also the ability of farmers to produce their own plant material either from seed or through vegetative propagation

Agrodok 9 The home garden in the tropics can be ordered  in English or in French

 
Crop residues for animal feed, Agrodok Agromisa

Fruit growing in the tropics


In the tropics, fruit crops are often disappointing. Only a minority of tropical fruits are suited for commercial production. Therefore, this Agrodok is written for home gardeners who want better control over their fruit production.

The first step is to get a better understanding of growing-, flowering- and propagation habits of various fruit crops, which is explained in detail in this Agrodok. Next, it provides a number of crop care operations to control the annual crop cycle. It also pays some attention to crop protection, harvesting and orchard establishment.

This Agrodok is very helpful to improve the understanding of fruit growing in the tropics and can thereby help the fruit grower to reduce the uncertainty in producing a crop.

Agrodok 5 Fruit growing in the tropics is available in English and French.
 
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