A Letter From Western Uganda
“Although schools in rural areas provide theoretical knowledge to children about the importance of trees and their fruits, they do not engage them in practical learning and yet they possess the vast land which, if utilised could provide demonstration sites for practical learning. Besides gaining knowledge, if fruit trees were planted at school, they would supplement on the nutrition and health of the pupils as well as generate some income for the schools.
However, fruit tree planting is currently a relatively low-key economic activity in rural schools in Uganda. This is attributed to the fact that school management demonstrates little interest and practical skills in environmental protection and preservation and how to use the environment profitably and yet sustainably. Other barriers include; low technical and organizational capacities of rural schools partly due to the limited institutional government support and extension services and a lack of access to relevant information and essential farm inputs and tools. This project, therefore, is to support specific changes that will lead to a greater role of Primary pupils assisted by school teachers in planting fruit tree resources in the school compound to increase appreciation, learning and livelihoods of the children through the project entitled “planting fruit trees for healthier populations and a better environment.”
It will be implemented in five primary schools over a period of 18 months, i.e. from February 2017 to October 2018 in rural schools, located in a district is one of the regions experiencing long droughts and worst hit by famine in the country currently. In this project, School administration, school management committee and school children leaders will be trained on the contribution of trees on environmental protection and preservation, the need for the establishment of environmental clubs in schools. In these sessions, educational materials to increase teachers’ and children’s awareness of environmental concerns will be distributed.
After the training, the project will support the establishment of talking compound with themes on the environment in five schools in the sub-county. These will remain as visual learning modules for the children. The project will also facilitate the establishment of environment/clubs in the five schools that will be responsible for overseeing the project in the respective schools. The clubs will be oriented by the patron teachers.
Seed saplings and farm inputs will be purchased and distributed to schools. Members of the environment club will engage in the planting and care for the fruit trees which will educate children to be nutritional and environmental stewards.
The sites for fruit tree growing will serve as demonstrative farms for other schools not included in this project and the surrounding communities. In each school, an Environmental day will be scheduled at the end of 3rd term which will involve parents touring the tree project and engaging with the school environmental club in conservation discussions about the environment and to get further recommendations for the project. In this event, parents will design together strategies for replicating fruit tree planting in their homes for subsistence and income generation. Patron teachers in the respective schools will be responsible for mobilising pupils for project activities and overseeing progress. The patrons will be reporting to the project coordinator.
An Agricultural advisory officer from the sub-county will monitor the project and will be reporting to School patrons.
This project of fruit trees will contribute to the prevention of soil erosion and desertification. This is because the natural water cycle will be restored and groundwater will be brought to the surface by root systems thus restoring water tables (underground water) that will improve moisture in the soil and extend the rainy season.
The project will also encourage and support schools to transform and economically strengthen the natural environment.
This is because the long-term goal of the project is to contribute to the eradication of malnutrition poverty, food insecurity and fostering a lasting high quality of life for the local children in rural schools while safeguarding long-term environmental sustainability by growing fruits. Thus, enhance the ability of children in rural schools to understand increase and sustain fruit production for improved food self-sufficiency and nutrition resulting into children’s stay and completion of school, and environmental conservation.
Local people and farmers are facing increased droughts, conditions that undermine their ability to feed and support themselves through farming. Transect walks conducted revealed that the district has few trees as windbreakers, fodder and nutrition. Communities seem not to be bothered by this significant implication.
Therefore, in coordination with school management committees, we acknowledged the need for an intervention to stretch out to school-going children and meet their needs. This is because if children are taught to be conscious about their environment they will grow up as responsible citizens.
Consultation with the school management and representatives will be made, to share ideas and gather their input before and over the life of the project. Schools will particularly Maintain trees, monitor tree, growth and survival, replace dead trees and try new species adding new species as conditions and needs change and enforce usage rules. A strong positive relationship is to be built with the children in rural schools to assess their needs, encourage and promote the accomplishment of project activities.
We will plant 600 trees in 5 schools.
Mangoes trees will be planted since they grow well in tropical climates, are so delicious and are also packed with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.
Jackfruit trees. These trees are prolific and produce extremely large fruit, which can be prepared in many ways. Pawpaw trees. Pawpaw (also known as Papaya) is a very popular fruit and is also highly nutritious. Citrus trees. Oranges, Tangerines and Lemons will be planted valued for their sweet taste, caloric content, and potential as a resource for orange juice. Avocado trees. Avocado is rich in monounsaturated fats, which make its texture creamy and smooth compared to other fruits.”