How Mastercard Foundation Scholars are Helping to Increase the Continent’s Productivity
According to a 2019 report by McKinsey (https://mck.co/2XHsEcv), 60% of Africans practice subsistence agriculture. It represents 23% of the continent’s GDP and is one of the most critical sectors for development. Feed Africa (https://bit.ly/3Adv8Du), a report by the African Development Bank Group, states: “Africa has 65% of the world’s remaining uncultivated arable land, an abundance of freshwater and about 300 sunny days. every year.” Africa’s potential to meet not only its own food needs but also those of the rest of the world is abundantly clear.
The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program fosters the development of future African leaders in various sectors, including agriculture. Fellows are committed to giving back to their communities by using their skills, knowledge, and networks to address challenges and drive innovation.
The Scholars Program includes initiatives such as the Scholars Entrepreneurship Fund (SEF), which launched in 2018, and the Social Venture Challenge (SVC), a partnership with Resolution Projects that is entering its seventh year. Both give fellows and alumni the opportunity to pitch their ideas and bring them to life. Since 2016, more than 140 fellows have received resolution grants and their projects are spread across 19 countries. Thirty-three percent of fellows surveyed about their businesses said they run agriculture-related businesses.
In 2016, Mastercard Foundation Scholars Lucia Lebasha and John Awiel, both Kenyan, created an award-winning social entrepreneurship project called Save the Pastoralist Initiative (STPI), driven by their childhood experiences of hunger and poverty. severe drought in Turkana, Kenya. This was achieved through their knowledge of sustainable agricultural practices acquired through their studies at EARTH University.
The people of Turkana mainly live a nomadic and pastoral lifestyle in which their animals are the main source of food and wealth. Turkana is also one of the driest districts in the country; rainfall is minimal and unpredictable. The many years of drought have created an ongoing struggle with hunger and malnutrition and a continued threat to their livestock and pastoral lands.
STPI began as an educational communications effort, writing and publishing agricultural articles online in local newsletters and on their blog and Facebook page.
Taking these efforts a step further, Lucia and John established a demonstration farm in Lodwar, the region’s economic hub, where they educated traditional pastoralists and youth on the benefits of sustainable farming practices with a focus on subsistence agriculture, conservation, technology and employment. creation. While John recently joined the admissions team at EARTH University responsible for recruiting scholars with a passion for agriculture, Lucia continues to lead the project in collaboration with local communities and organizations in Turkana South Sub-County , in Kangirega. The project currently supports 43 farmers (24 women and 19 men), providing them with training on agronomic agricultural inputs and links to markets for their products and financial institutions.
Africa’s potential to meet not only its own food needs but also those of the rest of the world is abundantly clear.
Project 7840 was developed by researchers Ernest Chakwera and Nancy Machera in 2016 to mitigate the effects of drought on their village of Khwelewere in Ntchisi District in central Malawi. The project helps Malawians access water for drinking and crops, using local resources and promoting sustainable water use for the benefit of the community. It also provides local farmers with support and training on sustainable farming techniques, local market opportunities and financing options.
Through the Universidad EARTH Graduate Association (UNEGA) Integrated Farm, scholars Alex Kyeyune, Fatimah Birungi, and Paul Mukuye have created innovative ways to strengthen farming practices and techniques, which have dramatically improved health and the well-being of many rural communities. In Uganda, smallholder farmers face several challenges such as land scarcity, ashy soil and drought, all of which affect productivity.
In 2017, the UNEGA team introduced sustainable agricultural techniques such as micro-gardening, including vertical, bottom-up and bio-intensive farming, through its demonstration farm in Kabubbu village, Uganda. These techniques have helped farmers double and triple their yields without increasing the land needed for cultivation. In balance with sustainability efforts, the eco-friendly micro-gardens use recyclable materials such as plastics, old tires and bags, and seventy-five percent of the manure used is organic. Over the past three years, the team has trained 54 households, who in turn have shared what they have learned with over 100 households. Of the 154 households, 60 have established small gardens in their residences. UNEGA has also worked with ten schools to educate headteachers on the value of school gardens, and five have established their own gardens. Thanks to their efforts, 16 women-run businesses gained access to a continuous supply of vegetables to sell.
In 2020, Esnath Divasoni from East Harare, Zimbabwe, developed innovative, indigenous farming techniques that are environmentally friendly and alleviate malnutrition and food insecurity. She ventured into unfamiliar territory – cricket farming. Although picking worms from trees and collecting insects from plastic bags was a common sight for her growing up, she thought it might be more plentiful and regular than just seasonal. https://bit.ly/3QLLyd2
A former Mastercard Foundation Scholar of CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education), which granted her high school education, after which she continued her studies at EARTH University, Costa Rica, Esnath is now one of the two main trainers of the CAMFED Agriculture Guide program. They have trained 320 agricultural guides in several districts who are now passing on their knowledge to other women across the country. His edible insect production unit is a five-by-seven meter eco-friendly room with rows of large blue and green wash tubs stacked on two shelves on his parents’ farm in Marondera.
The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, through initiatives like SVC and SEF and university partnerships like the one with EARTH University, which focuses on entrepreneurship and transformative leadership in agriculture, provides fellows with opportunities to address local challenges, develop entrepreneurial skills and leverage agriculture for impact. their communities positively. In doing so, they create opportunities that stimulate learning and leadership for themselves and their peers.
Learn more: https://bit.ly/2Y7uOFV
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Yekeen Akinwale.