As the name suggests, Key Farmer Trainers (KFTs) are key to the Microcredit, Eco-stove and Learning 4 Life School Development Projects. Without them, those projects would not function well.
They are young farmers from different parts of Mubende District whom we selected for a yearlong training course in sustainable organic agriculture at RUCID (Rural Community in Development) Organic Agricultural College in Mityana. They were chosen not only for their interest in farming but also for their motivation and ability to serve their communities and help others.
RUCID is a leading and innovative teaching institution which focusses on healthy and sustainable food production in particular by small- scale farmers. In the specially designed training course the KFTs acquire a good understanding of organic agriculture, including topics like soil fertility, water management, intercropping, bio-fertilizers, organic pesticides, crop and animal production, farm management, processing and marketing, eco-stove construction and much more. In addition to periods of intensive residential training at RUCID College, there are periods of practical assignments at their home farms. The assignments form part of the final assessment and they also serve as a model for other local farmers in their neighbourhood. At the end of the training the KFTs obtain both a Certificate of RUCID College and a National DIT Certificate of the Directorate Industrial Training.
In addition to agricultural training Key Farmer Trainers learn about the saving, lending and bookkeeping methods used under the Microcredit Scheme.
In return for receiving free education, the KFTs commit to disseminating the knowledge they have acquired in their communities for a minimum of four years. They do this by working as trainers and advisors to farmer groups and schools. That role is of vital importance as it gives a large number of farmers, garden teachers and parents access to a wealth of agricultural knowledge.
KFTs also monitor the proper functioning of the microcredit scheme in the farmer groups. Last but not least, the KFTs are instrumental in promoting and constructing fuel saving eco-stoves in private homes and schools. It is no wonder that KFTs become highly valued leaders in their community. The present Learning 4 Life Mubende Coordinator and his team of active KFTs are good examples of that.
When Microcredit started in 2007 there was still a group of Kulika trained KFTs. By 2013 the number had dwindled to a handful as they moved into other occupations. In 2013 and again in 2019 with the financial support from a Dutch Educational Foundation two groups of 15 new KFTs were trained. The last group has now joined the remaining KFTs of previous intakes in helping to raise the living standard in rural communities.