Field Notes during a Visit at Baralegi Presidential Demonstration Farm
It was a bee hive of activity today at Okere city project as our learners at Aero-Kwan functional adult education program had a field study tour at the presidential demonstration farm here in Baralegi, Okwang Sub county Otuke district. Learners started group at our community leaning center as early as seven 7 am in the morning for the study tour. Our learners are passionate about attaining skills that can help them actively engage with their communities and that’s the reason as to why this kind of visit is important as it imparts new knowledge and skills for social transformation among our adult population.
Agriculture remains the major source of livelihood in Uganda. According to the Uganda national household survey UNHS 2016/2017, the bigger proportion of the working population is engaged kin agriculture. Among the females in the working population, 70% are engaged in agriculture compared to 58% of the males.
At Aero-Kwan Functional Adult Literacy education class we had a learning filed visit at the presidential demonstration farm in Baralegi. The presidential demonstration farm has been set up in major regions across the country for farmers to learn modern ways of conducting and practicing agriculture in their communities. The farm is third of its kind in the country, after Kawumu farm in Luwero district and Kityerera in Busoga Sub region.
Debrief by the farm manager, Mr. Okaka Jasper
We arrived at around 9:43 am in the morning of Tuesday 29th 2020 at the farm and had a warm reception offered to us by the farm manager named above. He welcomed us and gave all of us a seat. The farm manager took us through the brief background of the demonstration farm and its purpose in the surrounding community. He took us briefly about what we should expect to learn from the farm. He also briefed the learners on ethics to follow while in the farm and asked those who can write to note down what they (learners) will get from the visit. He mentioned that our functional adult education leaners are not young people and so everyone including him will also be expecting to learn from them and he finally introduced the farm workers who will helped in guiding us throughout the day.
Mr. Olila Steven (Facilitator)
I introduced myself as written above and gave a brief background about myself. I am a student a waiting graduation with a bachelor’s degree of adult and community education and as well volunteer facilitator here at the Okere city project. I was excite since it was my first time accessing a presidential establishment like this. I learnt a lot about farming techniques most especially at the poultry farm which I plan to establish in the near future.
Mr. Munu Samuel Samson (Instructor)
He thanked the farm manager for allowing and giving us the permission to access the presidential demonstration farm. He mentioned that he has been teaching the functional adult literacy class at Okere City Aero Kwan Functional Adult Education class and since our learners are small scale farmers in the community so they needed to learn more modern and improved method of farming in their community. He thanked everyone who came and summarized.
Support staff/Farm workers
Farm workers/support staff introduced themselves through their leader Mr. Opolot Emmanuel. In total there were 12 farm support workers but with few representation in terms of gender. Female workers are very in that farm yet majority of women represent the biggest work force in the agriculture both in Uganda and Sub-Saharan Africa at large. Mr. Opolot Emaanuel mentioned that he has been working at the farm for some 3 years and he has got knowledge about crops grown there and willing to share knowledge with our leaners from Aero Kwan functional adult education program.
After the debrief from the farm authorities and self-introduction, we set off to the farm and the leaning process began with the farm manager taking us through the farm and teaching the learners different crops in the farm
These was the first site we visited at the farm. Here different types of coffee is planted here including Arabica and Robusta I coffee. The farm manager mentioned that the coffee was planted on 26th March 2018 and had taken four years by the time we had visited the farm. He gave farmers coffee seedlings and they had a feel of what coffee looks like. He also took the famers on the basics of growing coffee and the process one should start in order to be a successful coffee farmer. He said that for successful venture in the coffee farm, you should follow the process listed below:
Put coffee seedlings in water and sort those bad ones from good ones. Coffee that is good sinks down the water and makes it ready to be planted in the nursery bed, organize a nursery bed for the coffee seedlings and plant coffee in the nursery let it be in the nursery for three month. He emphasized that a farmer should put a lot of manure in the nursery so as to ensure that the coffee seedlings grow first. A farmer should also organize the farm and make it suitable for transferring the coffee from the nursery to the main farm. Mulching the coffee plantation was also emphasize and continuous spraying of the farm to destroy termites from destroying the farm planation. The farm manager also emphasized good maintenance of coffee plantation by ensuring that the plantation is visited quite often. He also took us through the process of harvest, hulling and storage of coffee beans after the harvest. Different chemical and fertilizers used to ensure that coffee plants successfully grows and have good yield was shown to farmers like super grow among others.
Questions and answer session at the coffee plantation
Mrs. Adongo Lucy asked about the market for coffee after harvest. The farm manager had to respond like you can bring your coffee here at our farm and we sell it at a fair price but it’s always good to deal with groups and cooperatives and avoid cheating by middle men. He also encouraged those who want to venture into coffee farming that there is money in that crop and it is the only way of wiping out poverty in our community.
Mrs. Adongo Lucy asked for the price of a kilo of coffee in the market. The farm manager responded by saying that its 7,000 Uganda shillings which is very promising to a rural famer.
Mr. Okodo Robert asked a question about how to identify coffee seedlings which is ready for harvest. The farm manager mentioned a coffee seedlings which is ready turns out to be red in color and that’s the sign showing it’s ready for harvest. A sample of ready coffee for harvest was plucked out for him and the rest of the leaners to see.
Mrs. Juspanti Auma, 74 asked the farm manager a question that isn’t the coffee seedlings poisonous for young people since she has young children at her home who loves playing so much. The farm manager mentioned that it’s not poisonous and he ate a sample to show and prove to leaners that the seedlings isn’t poisonous at all.
Mrs. Ajok Scovia asked about were the coffee seedlings can be got from incase on wants to engage in coffee farming. The manager mentioned that coffee seedlings can be got from their farm and in case anyone wants to invest in coffee farming, they should consult and gave out his telephone number to farmers. Again, she asked whether its fine to spray the coffee plants before it rains. The farm manager mentioned that it’s not right to spray it because rain washes away the chemicals sprayed and makes the plant vulnerable to pest which can destroy it seriously.
Mr Richard Ereng one of the learner at the Aero Kwan Adult education mentioned that he learnt a lot at the farm but in particular he learnt how to keep hens from the presidential demonstration and he will use the knowledge to transform and improve on his local chicken back home. He also learnt to vaccinate the birds immediately with vaccines against diseases that has been killing his birds at home.
Farmers were taken through other crops grown in the farm like vegetables garden were they learnt about tomato growing, cabbage growing among others. Farmers were also taken through the mango and orange plantation were they learnt modern methods of planting those mentioned fruits for subsistence and commercial purposes in their community.
Among other important activities we engaged in during the field trip was learning about poultry farming, dairy farming and our final learning point was at the banana plantation were learners got excited with modern and innovative ways of planting bananas.
Learning points for all of us during the field visit at the farm.
During the field visits, both I and all the participants had learnt something new during our time at the farm. They are noted down as follows:
I had a great experience of reaching Baralegi as a volunteer facilitator at Okere City project. I was able to reach this new area which is a great experience for me. I also had to build on my network of friends as I met with new friends who are learners and the farm manager. I also learnt about poultry farming which I plan to venture in sometimes to come. Generally it was a great experience for me with limited reservations mentioned in the next section below.
Mrs. Adongo Lucy mentioned that she learnt about the benefits of mulching her garden. She emphasized that she will mulch her garden so as to keep the soil moist for successful and continuous improvement of backyard banana farm.
Mrs. Scovia Ajok one of the learners mentioned that she learnt about spraying her garden to help control pest. She mentioned that previously she used to spray her garden in the morning and rain wash away all the pesticides she sprayed but now after the field visited she will spray her garden in the evening so that it’s no washed away by as guided by the expert from the presidential demonstration farm.
Mrs. Scovia Awili thanked god for taking us and bringing as back from the field activity. She said it’s also her first time to visit an establishment of this kind and mentioned that she learnt about banana growing. She said the followings; what I have learnt and understood well was banana plantation in the farm. Bananas were doing well and I asked how people at the farm plant their banana. The response was that banana stems should not be too much and spraying it also to control pest and diseases from destroying it.
Challenges experienced during the field study
The followings are the general challenges me and the team that moved experienced during the field study listed below:
Learners were exhausted and tired after first few hours during the field study. Learners especially the old ones were so tired of moving around the farm and standing while the leaning was taking place. This made some miss out on the knowledge and skills got from the field study.
Learners were also hungry since they left Okere City when we had no taken tea and or any other form of breakfast. An empty stomach cannot effectively and actively participate in any learning activity since the brain cannot function properly when someone is hungry.
The farm lacked other relevant thinks like poultry birds and cows I their kraal. Here learning was theoretical since what we had gone to learn about wasn’t in place. Since it’s anew demonstration farm they are still equipping it with more farm inputs which in time will be of benefit to our learners.
I was not debriefed about the trip on time and so I was not sure of the having the trip. Leaners were also not sure of the trip and few were willing to contribute for the gate payment at the farm. So others started moving away and I had to call you for guidance on what to do.
The field trip was successful as we met our target of reaching on time and exposing our leaners to more modern ways of farming in our society. Agriculture is the backbone of our economy and most especially in the rural community it’s an economic activity majority of people participate in agriculture with continuous exposure of farmers in Okere City to ousted world, a more prosperous, and financially independent modern farmers will be empowered to contribute to the food sector of this community and the world at large. Okere City will be one of the food basket for this community and country at large as we strive to meet the global agenda of sustainable development goal 1 of No poverty and 2 zero hunger.