Agri-education charity Marshal Papworth Fund has partnered with two charities based in Africa to help identify future candidates for scholarships at UK agricultural colleges.
The alliance with Farm Africa and Self Help Africa will also help support students when they return to their home countries after completing their studies.
Previously students have been put forward through word of mouth, or through universities, and once they returned from the UK, they were responsible for sending their own updates about their progress.
Marshal Papworth Fund chairman, James Parrish, said: “In the past, we have relied on universities and former students to recommend potential candidates. This new partnership will enable us to spread our work further afield and attract students from areas of Africa where we haven’t previously had a presence.
“In the future, students put forward by Farm Africa and Self Help Africa will work with these charities in Africa ensuring they are using their newly acquired knowledge and skills in the best way possible, while keeping us regularly up to date on their progress.”
The charities are now working with Shuttleworth College, in Bedfordshire, to provide a 10-week Demonstration Farmer course to start in April. The course combines agricultural teaching with Farm Africa and Self Help Africa’s in-country knowledge of the skills needed within rural communities, and the Marshal Papworth Fund’s experience of sharing newly-acquired skills on the ground.
Nigel Harris, CEO of Farm Africa says: “This is an inspiring scheme which will bring all-round benefits to communities, funders and our own teams on the ground.
“Farm Africa will nominate staff who already have experience working with smallholder farmers but who will benefit from the academic and practical knowledge gained from a top UK agricultural college. We will then see them returning to the field to put their new skills into practice. Everyone will be a winner, including the rural communities where we work.”
Self Help Africa’s CEO, Ray Jordan, said: “Knowledge is critical to ending hunger and poverty for millions of rural poor people in Africa.
“Participants on this course – farm advisors and community representatives - will make a practical contribution to our efforts to increase food production and farm incomes in Africa by sharing with others the knowledge they gain from their training in the UK.”
All three charities believe the key to ending Africa’s dependence on aid is to teach communities how to feed themselves, while generating a surplus to sell and raise incomes.
Farm Africa and Self Help Africa work directly with farmers to develop skills that will benefit communities and their environment, as well as tackling hunger and potential famine.
The Marshal Papworth Fund is wholly managed by the East of England Agricultural Society and relies on donations to fund its scholarships.