Gabriel Ludu Mugabi of Jinja Parents’ School last week wrote his way to victory in the Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNIFFE) essay contest.
The contest, which attracted participation from several primary schools in Jinja, saw contestants writing about ‘managing the challenges of climatic change for sustainable agriculture’.
The awards were held on the sidelines of the 2017 agricultural show. Explaining the essence of the contest, Charles Ogang, the UNFFE president, said the essays were intended to help the pupils appreciate the relevance of agriculture in their lives.
“When pupils write about a theme, it becomes easy for them to have the enthusiasm on learning more about the agricultural methods exhibited in the show,” Ogang said.
On his part, Mugabi applauded his teachers for introducing the writer’s club in their school, which helped the pupils with essay writing.
“I dedicate this victory to my teachers who have nurtured our essay writing skills through the newly formed writer’s club,” Mugabi said.
In response, the club patron, Magaret Tibatya, said the seed of writing sown in the pupils would guide them in the future.
“I thank the organizers of this competition, and I believe that the knowledge acquired by these pupils in the course of writing the essays shall guide their future lives,” Tibatya said.
Meanwhile, a group of students beat Members of Parliament (MPs) in a debate called to test their knowledge of climate change effects on agriculture. MPs Tony Muhindo (Bukonzo East), Cosmas Elotu (Dakabela) and the minister of state for Agriculture, Christopher Kibanzanga, found themselves trying to defend a motion on the relevance of agribusiness to the youth.
A group of students, including Sophie Ageta (Tororo Girls school), Belinda Naguddi (Iganga SS), Justine Ayebale (Nyakasura School) and Sarah Nakigozi (Gayaza high school), put up a spirited fight against the MPs.
Muhindo opened with a clincher.
“Agriculture is irrelevant to the youth because it fosters activities like deforestation, which have led to the clearing of the country’s forest cover in the name of growing cash crops, causing harsh weather conditions like drought,” Muhindo offered.
In response, Nakigozi declared that the MP’s claims were in contravention of government policy on forestry.
“It would be dreadful for a member of parliament to state that agriculture leads to destruction of the environment yet the government is championing the conservation of forest reserves like Kimaka forest through the NFA [National Forestry Authority],” Nakigozi countered.
At the end of debate, the judges, led by the UNFFE president Charles Ogang, declared the students the winners, as they had been able to buttress their points with relevant evidence.
In his final remarks, Kibanzanga appreciated the students for their articulate discussions on agriculture.
“In our school days, farming was considered an activity for peasants, but I’m happy with these students’ brilliant articulation of agricultural issues, and I hope they walk the talk and curb the unemployment problem in our country,” Kibanzanga said.
Former Agriculture Minister Victoria Ssekitoleko was also on hand to ask schools and parents to teach farming to their children at an early age.
“Those that have land should teach and encourage their children to join agriculture, because research has shown that in 10 years [from now], youth between the ages of 25 and 35 will be seeking livelihood in agricultural-related practices,” She said.