Innovative projects for refugees, former child soldiers, and host communities in northern Uganda
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Dec 2011 05

Training Under a Mango Tree. Meet Solomon, a GRG Agriculture Trainer

Posted in News

By Federico Rodriguez

On a hot sunny morning in the village of Laminadera in Northern Uganda, a group of 45 men and women gathered under the cooling shade of a mango tree to learn about the most effective techniques for vegetable growing.

Leading the class was Solomon Olum, an agriculture trainer from Gulu University. He is part of the Tic Ryemo Can Enterprise, an agriculture training consulting group run by Gulu University Professor David Ocan (pronounced Ochan).

Solomon’s approach is grassroots-driven: he focuses on hands-on training utilizing the existing tools and resources of local communities.  He emphasizes constant interaction with the community members, building from their existing knowledge.

“When you’re dealing with farmers, you should begin from what they know, then you head to what they don’t know, and you bring new things, because when you’re dealing with farmers they already know what you’re doing. They just need more information to perfect what they already know,” he said.

Solomon has experience in training local farmers for community projects, as well as individual and commercial ventures, and his knowledge of several local languages has been an asset in working with the local communities.

The group received theoretical knowledge on seeds, planting, transplanting and harvesting methods. Olum’s focus was on dry season vegetable growing. “We went through how they can select seeds and plant their nursery bed (seedbed), how to take care of the nursery bed and later transplant and manage the main field.”

Olum shared his techniques on shading plants and making natural fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. The group also received practical training on how to create a seedbed, ways of shading plants and recommendations on the type of soil necessary for dry season farming.

“Especially about the vegetables, they talked about how they can achieve a high yield out of the vegetables, how they can manage different kinds of risks and problems with the vegetables… They had… a lot of commitment. I know they will be able to cope, especially with follow-up [from GRG].”

GRG provided the seeds and some of the tools to start the project. In return, the members promised that they would begin to till the land to prepare it for planting.

“The seeds were excellent and especially suited the ranges that they wanted. The five different kinds they were given were enough for me to explain how they can advance … Those seeds were good. They are the things that can sell more in the market: cabbage, tomatoes. The demand is daily and is ever increasing”, he added.

He hopes to continue his studies and pursue a Master’s Degree in Agriculture. In the meantime he is eager to share his knowledge and expertise with GRG for the upcoming projects in 2012.

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