UK charity backs women in African agriculture

Marshal Papworth, a UK based agriculture-education charity, is helping to drive gender equality in African agriculture. For the first time since the Marshal Papworth Short Course began, more women have now travelled to the UK to take part in the tailored course than men – of the 11 students 6 are women.

The students, who have come from across the African continent including Senegal, Malawi and Burkina Faso, have arrived in the UK to work towards a BTEC Certificate in Agriculture that will enable them to return to their home countries and share sustainable farming techniques with their local communities.

The Marshal Papworth 10-week Short Course will run at Moulton College, one of the UK’s leading agricultural colleges, teaching the students a number of transferrable skills including crop management, business management, animal and plant husbandry, train the trainer skills and basic IT skills. Classroom studies will be blended with a schedule of field visits to enhance their learning.

Christine Okumu Otieno from Kenya currently works as a Community Development Facilitator, she has previously trained farmers for Plan International and TechnoServe. When asked about how she plans to use the course to benefit her community, she said: “I am really looking forward to learning as much as possible during my time in the UK so that when I return home I can share the knowledge and skills gained with the 2,000 farmers I am managing. I will begin by holding an overall group update session immediately after returning home, later I will segment the farmers into small groups, providing tailored sessions where I will practically demonstrate the new practices learnt.”

Tom Arthey, Chairman of Marshal Papworth, comments: “It is fantastic to see so many female students represented in this year’s cohort. It demonstrates that attitudes across Africa really are changing for the better. I wish all the students the best of luck as they embark on what will definitely be a hard but rewarding 10 weeks.”

Marshal Papworth works with in-country charities and organisations, including Self Help Africa and Farm Africa, SOS Sahel, Tree Aid, and West Africa Farms, Senegal, to identify suitable candidates for its scholarship courses. The charity is wholly managed by the East of England Agricultural Society and has already helped improve the lives of over one hundred and fifty students and their communities in developing countries through its Short Course and Masters Programme – one year MSc and MA courses.

In order to continue this work and to give more students the opportunity to benefit from the scheme, the charity relies on donations. To find out more and to make a donation contact Sandra Lauridsen on 01733 363514 or email slauridsen@eastofengland.org.uk for more information.

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