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Mary...a strong voice coming from the ground!

The 3rd RUFORUM Biennial Conference was held, last September, 24-28, 2012, in Entebbe, Uganda. The objective of this meeting was to exchange findings and experiences, and indentify lessons learned in order to improve universities performance for agricultural development.

Mary Ebukalin was invited to share her experience and insight, as an end-user, on the impact of higher education on agricultural development.

Mary was for me the icon of the event. Little lady with a huge charisma, Mary is a Farmer in Uganda. She is one of the founders of P’KWI, a group of women in agriculture. I have been lucky enough to meet Mary in the bus and privileged to listen to her story and insights on face-to-face.

We can’t walk alone”, she says.
Universities, extension, scientists, farmers need to work together.

In 1970, there were conflicts between a group and the government. The group took Mary and her community's lands, and they just had to run and go in a camp for 10 years.

Who are the farmers? In her case, farmers are people who have not gone to school. They survived in a substantial way.

Back in the village, they asked for knowledge and shaped a group, convinced that they needed to work together. A researcher: professor Adipala came to support them. Mary asserted that it is possible to translate farmer language to scientific language and vice-versa

Mary expressed that we need a two ways mentorship between young researches and farmers. From her own experience, when some young researchers come in her village, together with the farmers, they identify which technology is appropriate. She needs their knowledge and they need her experience. They need to discuss together in order to identify the best solutions for her own context.

“Where there is knowledge, there should be an answer”, she says.

“I would adopt a technology that I understand and that is useful.I need a technology that women can use! What can I do with tools that force me to wait for men to get back home to do the work instead of me!" Thanks to fruitful discussions, she asked for these adapted technologies and she got them.

From their experience together, students could understand that agriculture can be a profession; not only a way to survive.

P’KWI is now a cooperative of 2 500 people, with extension approach. They created a 4H club: heart (loyalty), head (thinking), health (joy) and hands (larger services).

Kudos to Mary for her heartful and successful story of collaborative work, involving the Youth!


To learn more about the 3rd RUFORUM biennial conference and YPARD's involvement, read:

- Engaging rural youth in rural transformation – 3rd RUFORUM Biennal Conference

- 3rd RUFORUM Biennial Conference – strengthening RUFORUM action!

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