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    | By Nancy Mukelabai |

    Working together as sectors is an approach that has been encouraged by government and the private sector as a way of effectively addressing challenges being faced by households. This has seen a good number of government programmes realize their objectives in the community as most households have similar challenges and needs.

    school children Watering cashew treesThe Ministry of General Education is implementing many projects in collaboration with several government departments and non-governmental organizations in promoting sanitation and health, good nutrition and agriculture in primary and secondary schools.

    Most schools are carrying out agricultural activities such as gardening, horticulture, aquaculture and growing crops through the Production Unit section. Against such a backdrop, cashew growing is among, one of the agricultural activities being promoted in schools in the 10 districts of Western Province.

    The Ministry of Agriculture in Kalabo district has adopted this initiative by encouraging schools to plant cashew seedlings at their schools through the inclusion of school head teachers in sensitization meetings at the inception of the project. They were informed on the objectives of the project and the advantages of growing cashew as a business.

    The response from the education sector was overwhelming as most schools voluntarily requested for cashew seedlings to plant, while some head teachers requested for land from the indunas whose land is just within reach from the schools.

    Lushi primary school, located in Namatindi agricultural camp is a role model of Kalabo district, where cashew growing in schools is involved. This school benefitted 300 cashew seedlings in 2018 just a few weeks into closing of schools for the first term. This exercise succeeded in the area due to the camp extension officer’s expert advice to conform to the required planting procedure. This resulted in the school having 276 cashew seedlings surviving despite the drought which was experienced during the 2018/2019 farming season.

    As a school, they were determined to have all the trees survive even after receiving them at the end of the rain season. Since most of the pupils reside in villages near the school, the administration drew a working schedule for the pupils.

    Lushi Primary School Head teacher Lutangu Muyambango appreciates the extension services being provided by the Ministry of Agriculture extension staff in the sensitization meetings, trainings and monitoring activities.

    “First of all, I sat with the parents to sensitize them on the importance of this project in the school. Then, we assigned each and every pupil a cashew seedling to manage. As the school is near their homes, they continued watering them and clearing grass around them for prevention from wild fires with the consent of their parents,” said Mr Muyambango.

    The school has 20 old mature cashew trees whose bearing of fruits and nut size has improved after the spraying exercise which was conducted by Export and Trade Group Company (ETG) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture in the province; this means that the school has a total number of 296 cashew trees.

    Mr Muyambango appealed to the government to continue supplying chemicals for spraying of the infected cashew trees for them to successfully continue harvesting from the cashew trees.

    Namatindi Agricultural Camp Extension Officer Aggrey Shabyungwe disclosed that he has been working closely with the teachers of Lushi primary school in the management of the cashew field.

    “I have been monitoring the growth and management of the cashew seedlings at this school from the time they received them. I believe that the involvement of pupils in this programme has enabled them record the highest number of cashew seedlings surviving in terms of schools that received the seedlings despite climate challenges,” confirmed Mr Shabyungwe.

    He explained that the head teacher has already requested for the early delivery of cashew seedlings in the next farming season as they want to extend their cashew field.

    The head teacher further explained that they have been sharing the knowledge acquired in growing cashew in order to improve income generation at household levels through processing and marketing after harvesting.

    During the 2019/2020 cashew planting season, Lushi primary school has benefitted 350 more seedlings for planting in view of the establishment of a cashew plantation at the school.

    “I feel it is important for our pupils to have enough information on agriculture as it is well known that it improves food and nutrition at house hold levels. Not every pupil will be a nurse, teacher or doctor,” observed Mr Muyambango.

    He explained that in the long run, some pupils will fall out of school and therefore good agricultural practices and knowledge are key in improving the people’s way of living.

    Mr Muyambango revealed that the school was targeting to plant 500 more cashew seedlings because the school has adequate land to utilise.

    Government through the Ministry of Agriculture is implementing several projects aimed at reducing poverty and malnutrition levels, increasing income for households and improving nutrition and food security for all; this therefore results in a healthy nation.

    The Cashew Infrastructure Development Project (CIDP) is revamping the cashew sub-sector in Western province which will be a game changer in terms of income generation at household levels and the nation as a whole. Apart from that, it is envisaged the programme will also contribute to the green growth of trees with positive effects on the environment.

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