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Copyright 2017 - @ College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Makerere University. All Rights Reserved!

MAK - IOWA Service Learning Program turns lives in Kamuli district: Program is to establish an Agricultural Training Centre worth shs. 5bn

Makerere University (MAK) and  IOWA State University (ISU) Service Learning program is set to establish a 5bn shillings Agricultural Training Centre in Kamuli district by the end of 2017.

The Field Operations Manager IOWA State University Centre for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods Uganda Program (CSRL) Dr. Gideon Nadiope said, the  major funders are individuals mainly old students (alumni) of IOWA State University USA.

“Generally, we generate our own money. We had donors and we put this money in a fund that makes profits. We also get some donations from projects. We carry out fundraising and from pledges we raised up to US $ 15,000 in crowd funding”. DrNadiope said.

MAK-IOWA state Service Learning students have been hosted in different rented sites in Kamuli districts for the past 10 years. Two accommodation sites are in Kamuli town and several others rented near schools where activities are implemented.

The new facility will be a one stop centre for students and community projects. The Agricultural centre design includes students’ hostels, staff accommodation facilities, lecture theatres, dinning, kitchen and administrative offices among others.

Dr. Gideon Nadiope said over 40 bidders have picked interest and already visited the site.

“We acquired 13.9 acres of land in Kamuli to set up an Agricultural Training centre of IOWA State University in Uganda. The construction is likely to begin in September 2016 and we hope this will last for one year. Architectural plans are already with Municipal Council and the Environmental Impact Assessment report is with NEMA”. Dr. Nadiope  said.

The Service Learning program is a brain child of IOWA State University Centre for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods Uganda Program (CSRL) registered as an NGO. Currently the administrative offices are rented in Kamuli district.

IOWA State University  Programs staff Ms. Dorothy  said the idea was conceived way back in 1960s by graduates of IOWA State University in America who thought of giving back to communities.


“A study was conducted and Kamuli district in Uganda was selected asa focal district to address the problem of hunger and poverty”. She said.

She explained that IOWA State University thought of university students as key players and worked with the then Makerere University Faculty of Agriculture and VEDCO as partners to develop the program.

“In 2004, Makerere University’s then Vice Chancellor, Prof. Livingstone Luboobi signed a Memorandum of Understanding to be part of the program. In 2005 several meetings were held and eventually in 2006 the first group of students were recruited in the program”, she narrated.

IOWA State University Centre for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods Uganda program

IOWA State University Centre for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL) Uganda Program undertakes a number of programs in Kamuli District. The IOWA State University Faculty of Agriculture formed a centre in Kamuli that spearheads development work and activities. These include, the Livestock program, Service learning, Youth entrepreneurship, Health and Sanitation and Nutrition programs.

According to CSRL Field operations Manager Dr. Gideone Nadiope  the livestock program handles three species of animals namely goats, poultry and pigs but the program has of recent seen farmers moving towards cattle rearing. The program works with farmers to put up a cost shared structure, provides feeds, trains farmers and gives piglets to farmers.In return, the farmer will give a piglet to another farmer after the pig delivering.

This approach, Dr. Nadiope said has been modified. The program builds a structure for the farmer and provides the feeds, the farmer puts the piglets and operates as a business. This is to demonstrate that if theanimals are well fed, they grow very fast and earn a farmer good returns. I0 people have been supported under this new arrangement. In addition sweet potato silage are also being promoted under the livestock program as alternative feed for animals.

“In poultry, the program started with rearing of local and Kuroiler chicken but many farmers have gone commercial by rearing layers. A loan system has also been initiated to support farmers in poultry production. In loaning, the program gets materials like feeds, chicks and vaccinates them for the farmer. After laying eggsm, farmers are encouraged to sell the eggs collectively and use the income for restocking”, he said.

Dr. Nadiope also explained that the goats were introduced to farmers by giving them male and female boar goats. The program has identified a community based breeding program in Hoima district and plans were underway to get elite Mubende  breed for cross breeding. The main target group is the youth. The program message to the youth is that farming is a profitable and life employment. Other targeted groups are the mothers. The mothers are those once admitted in nutritional centers with malnourished children and need  rehabilitation because of the deficiencies.

The Nutrition program according to the Field Operations Manager looks at lactating children under 5 years and pregnant mothers. CSRL has 8 Nutrition Education Centers, the smallest having 45 members and the largest had100. The objective is to cub malnutrition. The program developed rations of a nutritive porridge containing soybean, silver fish, milk, sugar and amaranths given to lactating mothers up to nine months so that by the time they leave the centre they know.  Mothers are trained about a balanced diet, at one setting, do family planning and immunization, health days inclusive of the communities. The program collaborates with district health teams to provide skills and services.

The program also conducts training in livestock, animal and crop husbandry, entrepreneurship farming as a business and allow farmers to select enterprises of their choice.

Under this Nutrition program, Agronomy is compulsory. Mothers are given seeds to grow, retained at the centre until the harvest when they are discharged from the centre. Officers follow up and monitor. Farmers contribute the seeds to be given out to other farmers and for the porridge.

Some graduates are also doing crafts and the program finds the market to increase income. Livestock is emphasized for purposes of giving proteins while poultry is preferred because it is easier for households to provide a child with an egg. Farmers are mandated to give records of how many eggs were eaten.

The Youth entrepreneurship program works with Service learning in 5 schools where they grow a number of crops including the grain amaranths, soybean, bananas, sweat potatoes and fruit trees like guavas, papaya and oranges. Jack fruit was recently initiated. The objective is to enhance outdoor learning labs for schools. It was done in a way to fit in the school curricular when teaching science for example nursery beds and to sell seeds. In Social Studies, Agroforestry is promoted.

The school feeding program to supplement the school gardening program was initiated.  Pupils and students grow crops and learn skills and also get food for lunch. One of the students did research and found out that one cup of nutritive porridge contained 50 calories an equivalent to a medium size apple in America. As a result the program developed a new ration of meal called Nyoyo where vegetables, maize, beans and some cooking oils are mixed. Some schools provide eggs. This raised the calories from 50 to 800 calories. Excess food from the school garden is sold to raise money to buy the missing food, pesticides and feeds.

Poultry units have been established in schools for self-sustenance. Irrigation systems, dormitories, kitchens, sanitation facilities, grain storage systems have been developed in schools. Among the benefiting school is Namasagali College school and several primary schools. The target in such a high school is to follow upon primary schools to establish whether the students are practicing what they were taught.

When students leave schools they form clubs. There are poultry clubs, apiary, piggery and crops clubs. A face book account has been opened to share information.

The Agronomy program focuses on pregnant mothers enrolled in Nutrition Educational Centers. The mothers are served with nutritive porridge composed of millet, maize, soybean, amaranths etc. To ensure sustainability mothers are only allowed to leave the centre after full recovery. They undergo agronomic trainings such as technologies to improve soil fertility and yields. The mothers are assessed based on yields they produce. They send yields to the Nutrition Education Centre, are assessed and graduated. They are followed up to their homes to ensure they are food secure.

The Water and Sanitation program is integrated in all programs. The core part is to drill boreholes. So far 18 boreholes have been drilled in schools and communities.Grey water is also captured for livestock, brickmaking and occasionally for motorcycle washing. Cisterns are used for irrigation and special tanks installed in schools. Bee keeping for harvesting and utilization is also part of this program.

The Service Learning program has an outreach arm. For the past 10 years, students from Makerere University and IOWA state University USA have been deployed in Kamuli district to engage in development activities as they learn and serve communities.

To enroll in this program, Makerere University Program Coordinator Dr. Donald Rugira  Kugonza said the enrolment begins with advertisement of seminars for students undertaking agricultural and related courses. This is followed by a call for applications, then interviews. The successful candidates are oriented to the program to enable them assess whether they can enroll into the program.

“We invite applications from students of Agriculture, Nutrition, Forestry and one of the criteria is that they should have a CGPA of not less than 3.6. The successful candidates are brought for orientation for 4 days to appreciate if they can enroll in the program. We synchronize the MAK and IOWA state program for 10 weeks but the American students have 6 weeks for their internship so they leave after the general presentations to the university community and we continue for more 4 weeks with the Makerere Students.” He said

The students are guided and supervised by Makerere University staff and the ISU Uganda program team.

Dr. Kugonza described the program as God given and one that enhances students practical skills in agriculture offering various opportunities for both staff and students from the two universities.

“ It isa good opportunity given that students work with the schools and communities from Monday to Sunday. Compared to other programs, it is God given because students really learn.” The Don said.

He described the plan to establish an Agricultural Training Centre as a big plus that will offer opportunities for more engagement.

“In the last 10 years of the program, we have had staff and student exchanges with IOWA State University. All program coordinators and Deans have visited the US and this is a great contribution in terms of capacity building. Over 15 PhD scholarships have been offered to Ugandans and 4 have completed and a number in their final stages in areas of engineering, genetics, horticulture, agronomy, plant science, breeding  , animal science and pathology among others. Some of the pioneers of the program are now Makerere staff”. Dr. Kugonza appreciated.

Major program achievements

The field operations manager CRSL Dr. Gideon Nadiope said the program has managed to change attitudes towards agriculture because parents and people from different countries come to participate and emulate what to do and set up their own business.

 In the area of sanitation Dr. Nadiope said the program has taught the communities and school children how to make  reusable sanitary pads and  this has enabled the girls stay in school among other benefits.

“Feeding has improved both in schools and homes. We realized that school  attendance improved on feeding days than on non -feeding days. We have appreciated what we have and what farmers need in terms of improving livelihoods. We have had farmers graduate from rearing chicken to other enterprises”, he explained.

A number of Ugandan students have benefited in terms of scholarships and internship. Each year 2 interns from Makerere go to the IOWA State University in the US to do Masters and PhD. This year 2016, 3 students left for the US. 2MSc students from Makerere undertaking agribusiness and Horticulture are being sponsored by the program. The program has internal scholarships for primary and secondary school goers funded by former students of IOWA State University.

The other positive aspect about the program is that it was able to test and establish the types of soils and guided farmers of which crops and best farming practices. This has resulted into farmers graduating from one enterprise to another.

2016 MAK-IOWA service learning activities

Service learning is a program which gives students from ISU andMakerere to

Experience other cultures; engage in community development through agriculture and positively impact on school feeding.

In June-August 2016, Service learners were involved in various activities including teaching, School gardens, Bi-national team projects, farm and Nutritional Education Centre visits.

The students implemented various projects at Namasagali Primary school, Namasagali College, Namasagali College Staff Children’s Primary School, Nakanyoni Primary school and Naluwoli Primary school.

2016 Service Learning activities at  Namasagali  Primary school.

At Namasagali Primary school, the service learners were involved in a number of activities. Students have the compositing project to manage waste which is used in the gardens as organic manure.

Gardens for   eggplants, vegetables, collards, amaranth, green paper and spring onions had been established ready for harvest. An orchard for fruit trees mainly papaya, guavas was established.

“We use these gardens as reference point laboratories when teaching theoretical lessons, then refer students to the gardens to do the practical bit of it”. This type of eggplant is called black beauty variety; it is added to the school lunch and given to pupils. We also show pupils practically how to mulch and weed”, One of service learners explained..

The service learners also raised a woodlot tree seedlings with species of acacia and lucinia for provision of firewood as pupils learn about deforestation and practice agro forestry.

“The seedlings from the agroforestry nursery beds like lucinia and acacia are grown around the gardens. They provide shade and oxygen and help in rain formation. Lucinia is a multipurpose tree used for forage, fencing, soil and water conservation as well as awind breaker”, the student said.

The service learners also established an irrigation system by harvesting water from the dormitory roof at Namasagali Primary school. Previously, the school relied on a borehole which had salty water that was not suitable for drinking, washing and cooking.

An orange fleshed sweet potato garden was established in liaison with agricultural research institutions  NARO. The potato vines are given to pupils to take home for multiplication and are encourage to bring their varieties from home to school. The potatoes on harvesting supplement the school feeding program.

Awell-established amaranths garden with ready market at the programs Nutritional Education Centre was set up. The grain is used as an ingredient in the nutritive porridge to malnourished children and expectant mothers at the Nutrition Education Centres. On average, the harvested amaranth grain is sold at  shs. 2000-2500 per kilogram. At the early stages, the amaranths leaves are consumed in the school feeding program while the older leaves are for livestock feeding.

“We manage the nurseries. This garden was planted in June 2016. Right now, we are transplanting. We had two seasons for the grain amaranth and now we are preparing for the second season so that we produce vegetables all year with or without rainfall because we have the water”, One of the service learners stated.

Another garden of spring onions was set up to supplement the meals. Service learners raise and multiply seed beds. Collards are also added to the school lunch and some given to pupils to take home.

The bananas from the school garden are sold to buy items like cooking oil for school lunch and some proceeds used to buy scholastic materials for the needy pupils like uniforms, books, sets, pens etc. The banana plantation is also used to teach pupils methods of farming like spacing. Bananas are also used as food supplements during parties and school meetings.

Besides the wood lot is the poultry unit. The layers provide eggs and manure used in the school gardens. The eggs are also added to the school lunch, sold to raise income for the school and used for teaching practical lessons. When service learners are away, pupils and teachers manage the project. Pupils are also taught to keep records, monitor the production of eggs and improvise feeders. Eggs produced are yellow because they are fed on leafy grass mainly the Russian comfrey.

The other activity carried out at Namasagali Primary School is teaching. Service learners teach agriculture, Mathematicsand Sciencemainly in primary five and six.

The student leader who was also a service learner in 2014 and former student of food technology Makerere University Kiprotich Samuel said the centre had 7 service learners and 2 student leaders. His ambition was to remain and volunteer with the program. Kiprotich is one of the people chosen to go to the US for internship.

“I am going to us to study agricultural systems and relate this to food science especially post-harvest technology and processing. I am going for internship this year. Normally the program takes two people”. He said.

2016 Service Learning activities at Namasagali College

In this secondary school, the Headmaster Mr. Daniel Bazirasaid the school receives 8-9 service learning students  engaged  both in field work and class activities, managing teaching as  the main activity inside and  agriculture as an outside subject.

“They have been spread right from senior one to senior six. They have come as experts and teaching assistants handling subjects such as agriculture, English and general paper”, Mr. Bazira said.

The headmaster said that schemes of work were made and sections of science identified and given to students to disseminate the information. Mr. Bazira said, apart from the fact that the service learners appear in class and go to the field the same day, majority of the activities have been well done.

“We have no had challenges because since we applied for these students we have received them calmly, there is no case of indiscipline and have been easily integrated into the staff system. We have not had any challenge of feeding them because they come with packed food”. The headmaster commended and went on to say that:

One aspect commendable is time keeping.Their staying away from school is not a problem because they come in time from Kamuli and conduct lectures. We are managing and engaged in growing amaranths and hope that it can raise income and improve  on diet.There are collards which are also harvested to supplement our diet.” The headmaster said.

The service learners also teach theoretical lessons to all students but due to the big population of students in the school, practicals are managed in clubs for easier supervision. Namasagali College has 360 students in senior one while senior two has 280 students making it difficult to manage during the practical lessons.

“On the whole the service learners have contributed greatly with teaching and have given us a relief in teaching   biology, physics and agriculture among other subjects. This schoolis located far away from the main road and getting staff to cover all subject has been one of the challenges”, Mr. Bazira said.

He expressed gratitude and requested the MAK and IOWA program Coordinators to continue with program saying, it has turned lives and improved on household incomes through sensitization and agricultural projects.

“I request that this activity continues in subsequent years. We have been having a low turn up of girls but this has significantly improved. The biggest reason is the trading centre which has rich people. So, girls fail to complete senior four. Shopkeepers can even have five wives. Fortunately, because of the big size of student service learners and their support, there is some fear to tamper with the girls”, TheHeadmaster commended.

Mr. Bazira thanked the student service learners for introducing projects such as poultry that has been embraced by staff, students and communities thereby enabling them to raise fees and improve on the diet.

The service learning team at the Namasagali College had tiled the land and transplanted eggplants and collards. Another garden of amaranths had just been harvested. Plans were under way to establish an orchard.

“We have harvested amaranths . We work with students starting at 5.00pm.Our plan is establish an orchard for pawpaws, have trees around the garden, and we have planted bananas which are starting to sprout”, the students said.

The students had also established an apiary that was transferred from Namasagli Primary school. The site is a farm and the staff who was using it was soon retiring.

“This year, we are betting (attracting bees) using smoke from cow dung. We opened one end and inverted on the smoking furnace. We checked two weeks ago but the hives are not yet colonized. We are using different beehives including the log hives and the top bar hives and would like to expand the apiary.” One of service learners said.

He said the team had planted the bee forage around the apiary including caliandria, lucinia and acacia.

“We have also harvested honey and got 5 litres, processed it and bottled it for sale. We also trained the youth club of Namasagli college on bee handling” ,he reported.

2016 Service Learning activities at Namasagali College  Staff Children’s Primary school

At Namasagali College Staff Children’s’ Primary School, the service learners together with pupils established an amaranths garden that was almost flowering. According to the Uganda National curriculum, pupils are supposed to be in class from 8:00 am -3.30 pm. Beyond this, is extra-curricular activities. The pupils work with service learners and are taught agronomic practices such as fertilizer application, spacing, pest control, thinning and how to do the cost benefit analysis. On harvesting, the amaranths grain will be sold.

“Teaching starts in class and then we come to the garden for the practical part. We have a garden for collards added to the school lunch and also taken home. We want to inspire pupils to love agriculture so that it is not seen as a dirty job.” the team leader said adding that:

“The school garden provides vegetables for school feeding. We have two crops amaranths provide vegetables and grain that is sold to buy beans for school lunch.We mix beans and maize that is fed to pupils and part of it is sold to raise income for the school”, one of service learners at this school narrated.

A borehole was drilled near this school to serve the community and the schoolwith safe water. Originally water was drawn from the river. This was risky as children would be drowned.In 2015, the service learners protected the well and build a concrete collection pool where run off water from the borehole is collected.

Three days are earmarked for teaching, the rest of the week, they are involved in bi-national team projects that support learning like school feeding and sanitation.Two tip taps to promote hygiene were constructed and a grainstore also repaired at the Namasagali College Staff Childrens’ primary school.

The service learners further carried out farm visits for two days in week mostly on Saturday to interact with farmers to share information, get their challenges and forge solutions.

“We visit farmers to learn from them and also for them to learn from us. We visit well established farmers within the district with animals and crops and they tell us what they do and we advise them how they can improve on their production”, a team member said.

To control pests and deter animals and trespassers into the school garden, the service learners protected the school gardens by constructing a fence with barbed wires and life fence of Euphorbia. The service learners had a plan of establishing gardens for morecrops like green pepper and bananas but were unable to implement due to the presence of many monkeys in the area.

Outside the class and garden, service learners engaged in both indoor and outdoor games.

“We play matatu, slap J, Speda, Banana grains, Catch pay, BS, scrubble. We played soccer with different schools. We beat Namasagali  college 1-0 but the next round we were totally beaten 4-0. We beat Namasagali Primary 6-2 and Nakanyoni 4-1”, One of the leaders narrated.

Service learners here appreciated the program for being adventurous and practical, presenting many opportunities.

“The program has been good and has helped us to know and move around Uganda. We had a chance to go to Itanda falls and we realized we have amazing  sites. We even went to Igara restaurant, Queen Elizabeth National park. We went with the American students to the equator and all these have made the internship so interesting”. A team member said.

Luyima Eria, a student leader at the Namasagali College Staff Childrens’ primary  school ,who was a former student leader and again returned as a student leader said the program was beneficial.

‘I have been given a scholarship for internship in the US. I was selected for IOWA internship. To me there are many opportunities from here. However, I have opted not to go for the IOWA internship.I am going for the Agrostudies internship in Israel. When I came back as a leader I can employ others”, Luyima said.

This team at Namasagali College Staff Children’s primary school renovated a room at the school and converted it into a grain store toensure security. Before, the agricultural tools were stored in the boys’ dormitory.

2016 Service learning activities at Nakanyoni Primary school

At Nakanyoni Primary school, service learners were involved in making and teaching pupils to make reusable sanitary pads using the locally available materials under the health and sanitation program. The training involves girls in primary five and six. Three to five girls are selected to learn and later train the others.

“The pads can be washed and reused up to 4 years. They are sold to outsiders at a price of shs. 1,500 and at shs. 1000  to pupils. To make sure that girls stay in school, we talk to them that it is normal to have menstrual cycles. We also talk to the boys not to mistreat the girls during that period.” A service learner, Dinah Nabudadiri explained.

To reduce on the post-harvest loses, service learners with the support of materials from ISU Uganda program established a storage system where food mainly grains contributed by pupils for lunch can be stored for 30 days without damage by pests.

“We keep beans and maize for school lunch and use hermitic storage where the containers are airtight. We put two tablets of aluminium phosphates and after ten days store the grains without air. If properly dried, and all micro-organisms die, we put in jerry cans for 10 days and this is effective. We also keep records of how much is collected and used,” Ishimwe Gloria said.

To protect harvested water from the school roof, the team came up with the lock system to restrict water use to the school. Plans were also underway to set up a water storage tank near the kitchen.

A new poultry structure had been set up the school. The units had been stocked with 100 layer chicks and wereat 9 weeks old. The chicks had been transferred from the brooder to the growing house.

The service learners were also involved in putting up an agroforestry green house. The green house was stocked with 1111 seedlings.

The amaranths garden was ready for harvesting. The grains will be taken to the Nutritional Education Centre for making the nutritiveporridge fed on malnourished children and lactating mothers as a supplement. The grains are mixed with other flours in baking cakes and bans. Locals use the roots in hot water to massage swollen legs.

In the same school, the service learners established the paper sucker bananas harvested from mother plants.These are products from the Banana tissue culture laboratory at the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute, Kabanyolo. The planting materials are disease free and easy to transport. Holes are dug and the paper suckers lowered and covered with mulch. These bananas take a short maturity period to harvesting of only 9 months.

The service learners were also involved in the building of the foundation for the new kitchen being built at the school. This kitchen is part of the program to conserve the environment involving communities and district officials. The community contributed the bricks while the program contributed sand and skilled labour. The kitchen was designed by the service learners borrowing the technique from the kitchen at Namasagali Primary School. The improved cooking stove was constructed with fire bricks to save on the firewood. It has different compartments taking different sizes of saucepans. The kitchen has the serving area, improved grain store, store for firewood and washing area among others. Each stove has a chimney.

Every building at Nakanyoni primary school was designed with a plan for water harvesting. The foundation for a water tank was being constructed near the kitchen for water supply.

 The service learners also established an orange fleshed sweetpotato garden and another one for soybean to supplement the school feeding program.

The service learners also participated in raising the foundation for the teachers’ house at Nakanyoni Primary school.

2016 Service learning activities at Naluwoli Primary school

At Naluwoli Primary School, service learners constructed plate-stands and tip-taps, cisterns and trenches to promote school hygiene under the health and sanitation project.

They opened up a school garden and planted amaranths and soybean,  pruned the banana plantation and made a compost pit.

In agroforestry, the service learners planted Eucalyptus trees to protect the school garden and also put concrete boxes on the water tankers.

In teaching, the students offered courses in mathematics, science and agriculture in primary five and six.

The students also visited different farmers in communities to offer what they learnt on weekends. A particular case of interest was the visit to the Pakistan farm involved in piggery, farming and utilizing machinery in clearing and weeding.

The other activity at Naluwoli was improvement on the grain storage. Students constructed the pallets and introduced the hermitic storage system plus other backup   of metallic and plastic silos.

To supplement their food, this group kept broilers. In period of two months they had kept two lots. They were also in feed mixing and supplied farmers involved in poultry keeping.

Interestingly, this group of service learners at Naluwoli primary school went a step ahead to make crafts. They made customized bungles, bags and table clothes that fetched a higher value.

“This training has helped us academically and socially. We are even leaving this place as chief cheffs. Whether a boy or girl, we have a timetable to prepare The required quantity and quality of food. I know how to make chapati, mandazi and I will maintain this spirit” a one Waswa intimated.

History of the MAK-ISU Service Learning program in Kamuli district

MAK and IOWA  State University (ISU) started a school garden and feeding program in Uganda at Namasagali Primary School  in 2006. The program has been expanded and implemented in other schools including  the Namasagali College, Namasagali Staff Children’s’ Primary school,  Nakanyoni and Naluwoli Primary school  in Kamuli district.

The program activities include poultry production, environmental conservation, agroforestry, beekeeping, hygiene, sanitation and school feeding.

The program consists of school gardens covering an area of about 5 acres and other projects that addresses issues of nutrition, health, hygiene and sanitation agroforestry, bee keepingand school feeding.

The  goals of a successful school gardening and feeding program were defined as to acquire agricultural knowledge and skills; improve school feeding and nutrition for better learning; and take knowledge back to parents/home. The program was approved both by the Kamuli local government and department of education at the Kamuli district headquarters with the attendance of the District Education Officer.

The school garden and feeding program aims at providing a learning laboratory for the pupils to learn practical agriculture and related sciences; supply planting materials for the pupils; act as a source of produce for the school lunch program; provide income for the school to purchase scholastic materials and other school supplies as needed by the school and the children; and help change the attitude of the children to view agriculture in a positive way as a livelihood source as opposed to being a method of punishment.

Students from both Iowa State University (ISU) and Makerere University (MAK) have been involved in the school garden and feeding program right from the beginning. Their role is to assist pupils and teachers of Namasagali Primary School in Kamuli District to establish a model school garden in addition to helping with teaching agriculture and related science subjects based on the Ugandan national curriculum.

The goal for the MAK and ISU students is to get exposed to real world issues such as food and nutrition security, soil fertility, access to water, health and sanitation, and other cultures.  The NPS garden also generates planting materials (seeds, cuttings and other propagation materials) that are distributed to pupils’ homes or to share with another start-up school.

In 2006, Iowa State University’s Service Learning Program was launched together with the school gardens and feeding project. The program was funded by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), private gifts, MAK and ISU with the local school providing in-kind contribution in terms of land, leadership, labor and some of the farming tools. In the first year of the program, a team of six ISU and three MAK students together with four faculty from ISU and MAK participated in the program. A borehole to provide water for irrigation was one of the first innovations.

Access to clean, potable water offers an opportunity to reduce women’s labor, improve sanitation, and irrigation of gardens. The borehole was an important necessity for establishing the school garden because during the situational analysis exercise, it was reported that two students from NPS had drowned in River Nile where they had gone to fetch water. In addition, in order to teach about hygiene and sanitation and irrigation you need water yet the closest water source for the school was River Nile, which was close to 0.5 mile from the school and it was a dangerous source in terms of safety and sanitation.

Participants  established vegetable gardens at the school for mainly teaching purposes and for the children to take home to eat and to provide planting materials.  The children were given planting materials and taught vegetable production.

A poultry unit was established at the school in to provide animal source protein. A nutritional analysis for the porridge the children were taking for lunch was done and results showed that it contained only 50 Kilocalories (Kcals).  The program chose to work with the school management to produce food from the garden in order to enrich the porridge. Grain amaranth, a crop that had been introduced in the Kamuli district was included in the school gardens. On harvesting the grain amaranth was added to the school lunch, raising the caloric content from 50 to 80Kcals. This was still below the Required Dietary Allowance (RDA) for a child within the age group of 6-12 years who requires a 700-900 Kcal for a lunch meal as stipulated by the World Food Program, 1999 for normal growth and development.

The school feeding and lunch program at Namasagali primary school expanded its activities  to include training and providing propagation materials for orange fleshed sweet potatoes to the primary school pupils. A review by the  Service Learning participants found out that the children participating in the program learned about crop production and that they perceived agriculture more positively. In addition, children were transferring knowledge from the school gardens to their homes and were producing and consuming or selling produce from their gardens. However they were facing challenges of accessing gardening supplies and planting materials.  Evaluation by the students indicated that only 75% of surveyed pupils had previous knowledge on plant propagation with only 20% of the pupils having propagated crops using cuttings. They concluded that the students had limited prior knowledge in plant propagation. Iowa State and Makerere Universities’ students then carried out demonstrations on plant propagation. To ensure continuity, ISU hired a staff to work for the program throughout the year.

In 2008, the program followed up on recommendations from the previous year and established raised beds and seedling nursery, planted vegetable seedlings (Cabbage, kale, eggplant, etc.), maintained existing plots of banana, tomato, cassava, papaya, and conducted another demonstration on propagation. More pupils at the school were given vegetable seedlings and orange-fleshed sweet potato propagation materials to take home.

An evaluation of the poultry project indicated that male students were more likely to own poultry relative to female pupils; the biggest challenge to maintaining a poultry project was identified as purchasing feed; the study recommended that poultry feed procurement and egg incubation should be considered for future projects.  To establish the impact of the program on the home garden, a follow up of the pupils was carried out and findings from this study indicated that the pupils’ main source of agricultural knowledge was home and school. That  students were transferring knowledge from school to home and that the most widely transferred skills were vegetable production, proper incorporation of animal-source manure, and banana planting. Female pupils tended to have smaller gardens at home than their male counterparts. Majority of the students intended their gardens to be for income generation. The study found out that pupils mainly grew cassava, eggplants, banana and maize; while pests, lack of inputs and environmentally related issues were the main challenges facing the students.

In the same year, a nutrition assessment carried showed that micronutrient and protein dietary intakes were insufficient, there was inadequate to lack of animal source protein and lack of total caloric intake .  A strong wind blew off the roof of the poultry unit effectively destroying the poultry project in the same year. Prior to that the project had faced several challenges mainly related to feed availability and lack of veterinary services. This led to the shelving of the poultry project for a year as new strategies of managing it were being designed.

Beekeeping was introduced in 2009 and continuous todate. The goal of the project is to provide an alternative source of income to the school, teach the pupils a new enterprise that can earn them income, and also provide produce to help diversify the children’s diet and improve on their nutritional status. The program started with two improved hives the Kenya Top Bar Hives (KTBH) and several traditional hives that the children were taught to construct by a local farmer. The pupils were taught how to select a site for an apiary, honey production skills, and how to construct a local hive. The project faced many challenges at the Primary school eventually it was moved anearby High school (Namasagali College, NC) in 2013, where there was better management. Within the first year of moving the hives, ten kilograms of mature honey was harvested. The number of KTBH has been increased to four and another six traditional log hives added in 2014. To improve on pollen sources, the project team has planted over 18 bottlebrush and Calliandria trees. The ISU and MAK students designed a plan for an improved kitchen in 2009 as part of their bi-national team project.

In 2010, a better-designed poultry house was constructed at the Namasagali Primary school and was stocked with 100 layers. The birds were brought in at one day old. A local farmer with chicken brooding experience was requested to assist the school by brooding the birds. A total of 96 birds eventually survived and started laying eggs. The birds were mainly used for teaching the children and eggs were sold to maintain the birds and also purchase supplies for the other school gardens. In the same year the school feeding program was established at the Namasagali Primary School. The dish introduced to the school composed of maize, beans, cooking oil, iodized salt and vegetables, and it is locally known as nyoyo. The lunch was introduced to a section of the school with a sample drawn from each class. Introduction of the school lunch was done both for a study and also establish if the children would like the meals since it was new to some of the children. The recipe was adopted and adapted from the neighboring Kenya. It is more convenient to prepare since it does not require maize milling charges, which is a major challenge for parents to contribute cash towards school lunches. The school lunch was fully funded by through Service Learning program in 2010. The school lunch was estimated to provide the children with close to 800Kcals.

In 2011, the 800 Kcals school lunch was expanded to cover all the children at the school. Eggs from the poultry unit were added to the nyoyo once per week to provide the children with animal source protein. Vegetables from the gardens were also added to the lunch to provide vitamins and other micronutrients. A laboratory analysis was carried out for the lunch, which established that the lunch provided 830 Kcals. To produce enough planting materials for orange fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSP), multiplication beds were initiated. In the same year, the growing of tomatoes and maize was done at a bigger scale than ever before, for maize, the garden was three acres. The crops were grown following ‘best-bet’ practices of fertilization and pest control. A 0.5 acre cassava garden was established. Both the maize and the cassava plants were attacked by termites. The termites were then controlled by digging up their mounds/ant-hills. As a way of improving soil fertility further; retention of maize stalks after harvest as soil cover; growing of soybean, a leguminous crop as well as the use of Rhizobia as an inoculant for pre-panted bean seed was done.   

 In order to keep off livestock that were wandering into the school garden and eating crops; and also to prohibit human trespassers, fencing of the garden was initiated. The fence was made of Ficus posts and barbed wire. This fence did not deter goats and calves, also, termites attacked and ate up the posts. At a later stage, consideration was made for establishing a live fence made of Euphorbia and Kei apple (busitani) plants. This decision would prove a master stroke because not only does the Euphorbia grow thick and strong and cannot allow livestock through; it is also termite resistant and grows well in marginal, low fertility and fairly dry soils.  

In 2012, a review was carried out for former Namasagali Primary school students who were attending a local High school (NC) to determine if the students were still using the skills they had learned in Primary school and establish if they were growing crops or keeping livestock based on the knowledge and skills they had acquired through the school gardens. Findings from the study indicated that majority of the former N.P.S pupils were still gardening at their home, and that was the main source of school fees and food for their families. The study also showed that the pupils still relied on the knowledge they had acquired while in Primary School and that there were no other sources of new knowledge and skills except for students who were registered for agriculture as a subject at the school. In response to these findings the project initiated a youth entrepreneurship project at the High School in 2013. Construction of an improved kitchen began in 2013 at NPS to: ensure pupils’ food was cooked in a cleaner environment, the cooking used energy/wood saving stoves, and the cooked food had a clean and safe storage space.

The Youth Entrepreneurship Project (YEP) at the Namasagali College is an offshoot of the school garden project at Namasagali Primary School. At the start of the project, discussions with interested youth indicated that they were interested in raising livestock apart from crop production. Thegoal of theyouth entrepreneurship project is to assist the youth to set up income generating projects to enhance their livelihoods. The project participants have been trained in agribusiness and are now receiving micro-loans to set up both crop and livestock projects for income generation. The first group of 12 beneficiaries launched their projects in August 2014. Other members of the youth entrepreneurship projects continue to learn skills in agriculture and participate in group projects like raising broilers and vegetable production. Some of the members have set up their own vegetable production projects in their homes.

In 2014, a leadership and entrepreneurial skills course was conducted for 30 youths both in and out of school. The out of school youth are resident in the villages near the school (NC). This course stemmed from the need to give a chanceto the youth who are out of school but interested in participating in agriculture projects at the school and in their community. Some of the youth are now involved in the YEP and they will be vital for ensuring sustainability of the projects as school-based members complete their studies and leave for their far off homes. These out of school youths are also reliable in periods when the students are busy with examination sessions or when they go for holidays/vacation.   

Lessons learned

Involving parents in the planning of a school garden ensure support and clears the misconceptions that their children are being used as free labor at the school.

Proper choice of crops to grow and synchronizing production combined with motivating the pupils leads to garden management during school vacations

Incorporating livestock projects in schools gardens exposes pupils to livestock management skills early in life and also provides animal source proteins, which are limiting in most diets of people in rural Uganda. It also generates manure that is readily useful to the school garden to improve soil fertility.

Providing incentives for participating pupils and teachers builds commitment and sustainability.

Carrying out problem diagnosis is important so as to identify the real/primary challenges and develop more realistic and viable solutions.

Learning takes place eventually and can be sustained if the environment is amiable and conducive.




Report compiled by;

Jane Anyango,

Communication Officer,

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences(CAES)

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Email: principal@caes.mak.ac.ug