Working with Dolen Ffermio in Uganda, Steven Jones, Sector39.
It was a wonderful opportunity to work with Dolen Ffermio in Uganda last month, meeting many new friends and I hope future colleagues on the 2 week permaculture course held in Kamuli by the Sector39 teaching team.
Uganda is at a pivotal stage of its evolution as a nation, with an average age of under 18 and with a whole generation of the population now emerging from education, Uganda is all about the future. The people there are hungry for opportunity and the choices they make now will shape the emerging nation for many decades to come.
Uganda’s troubled history is now fully in the rear view mirror as the equatorial nation slowly emerges from the trauma, stress and mayhem of that period into a rapidly changing world. Economically they are still caught in the primary-producer economic stage, witnessed by the huge sugar cane plantations currently gobbling up the remaining rainforest at a frightening rate in a race to generate revenue for the government and their corporate friends.
Contrast the breathtaking ecology of equatorial rainforest, with its 200 species of birds, 100 of butterflies, without forgetting the massive canopy of huge and diverse trees and climbers that is the core of the forest to that of the sugar cane field. Whole ecologies are being consumed to please foreign markets; the price being paid is absolute destruction of pristine habitat. Never has the economic paradox appeared more clearly as a stark choice between ecology and economy?
Hauling sugar from remote parts of central Africa for global markets, the impact is absolute!
You know there has to be another way! There must be an economic model where ecology and economy are intertwined, where economic transactions create positive environmental and social benefits, where one is not at the cost of the other, well there is and we call this permaculture. At the heart of permaculture is a set of values and design tools that steer outcomes towards those which are mutually beneficial, ones that mimic nature, rather than consume it. Nature is diverse and interconnected, constantly changing and responding to new opportunites, it is dynamic and self steering; permaculture takes this a model and uses it as a design template.
The Sector39 team of 4, all from the Llanfyllin and Llanrhaeadr area delivered 120 hours of training over 12 days to 15 full time students and numerous guests and visitors during their 3 week visit to Uganda. Those completing course were certificated and can now progress towards becoming permaculture teachers in their own right as they gain experience and develop insight working with the ideas themselves.
The team concentrated on a design project focussed on the 30 acres of land on the banks of the Nile, funded by Dolen Ffermio that serves as a training and demonstration farm. It was tremendously exciting to be able unleash permaculture design thinking on such a place and the resulting presentation was witnessed by local teachers, the head teacher from Busoga high school, the regional environment minister anda range of community members. We hope to be able to return to deliver a series of courses in the area over the coming years. Strong friendships and working relationships have already been formed and we look forward to building on them.
Anyone interested in finding out more about permaculture please contact Steve Jones via sector39, we are planning to offer a full 2 week PDC course this September as well as a 2 day introduction weekend at Dragons co-operative in Llanrhaeadr.
See our Africa course blog here, as well as news on future courses and events.