Scout2Scout: Intercontinental cooperation in organic agriculture

It all began in the demonstration garden of Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) where in 2012 numerous Scouts from Morogoro were trained in organic agriculture by SAT’s team.

s2s-4_newTwo of these Scouts, Mohamed Hussein and Allen Mpange, now live in the South of Tanzania in Mbeya and pursue their studies in Business Administration. The cost of this formation is bore by SAT meanwhile Mohamed and Allen in return act as facilitators in the Scout2Scout (S2S) project. They spend their Saturdays teaching Scout groups about organic agriculture and caring with them for the vegetable gardens they created on their own. Kalobe and Iyunga are two of these schools that participate in SAT’s S2S project and provide the Scouts the area for planting a variety of vegetables on school grounds. The groups meet on Saturday mornings and spend the day learning with Mohamed and Allen about organic agriculture, caring for the growing plants, making organic compost and, last but not least, having fun together. Marketing and selling of the vegetables they grew themselves is also part of the tasks undertaken by the young Scouts.

On the tour through the verdant vegetable garden a Scout explains with visible pride the function of the so-called “Shamba Mfuko” (sack mound): A nylon bag is filled with soil and compost, whereby small stones are stacked in the middle. Then, seeds are planted all around and on the top of the bag, which will later grow into all directions. If one waters the plants from above, the water will spread evenly on the entire height of the bag as it seeps through the gaps between the stones. This system saves on water and on top of that is a creative opportunity for growing vegetables within limited space. The harvested organic produce is sold by the Scouts to their teachers and to other private customers in the surroundings of the school. With the proceeds from sales, the Scouts are able to go on excursions, carry out different activities, finance their Scout uniforms or realize camps. At Iyunga Secondary School, the school administration has recognized the positive outcomes from the organic foodgarden at their school and will, from the next semester on, expand the activities on more students. The area and the amount of cultivated vegetables will therefore increase. From then on, the produce will also be used in the school’s canteen and thereby contribute to a balanced diet of the students.

Not only the Scouts benefit from the S2S project by as2s-2_newcquiring knowledge about organic agriculture, which they later share with their families and friends, but also the schools themselves. The Head Master of Kalobe Secondary School speaks of motivated and independent young people that carry out the long-term project in a disciplined way and simultaneously acquire business knowledge. These values and skills would also show in school life and in class and would benefit the Scouts professionally and personally in the long term. The learning process about skills in organic agriculture does not only take place on the field but has also found its way into the classroom. In Biology for example, the teaching staff that has been instructed by SAT and the students together develop knowledge about different plants that grow in the school’s food garden and serve as a practical example only a few meters from the classroom.

This snowball-principle of knowledge diffusion (from SAT to the Scouts leaders to the Scouts themselves and their families and friends) is supported through the collaboration with the Scouts from Vorarlberg. From 2012 to 2014 they had enabled the construction of two guest houses at SAT’s Farmer Training Centre and facilitated the training in organic agriculture of several Scouts leaders. Since the start of S2S in 2012, SAT has trained over two Scout leaders and three teachers which resulted in over 106 Scouts participating in the project.

s2s-3_newMotivated by the evident advantages, the Head Masters of both schools wish that the project Scout2Scout is not only continued but also expanded. The production of vegetables for their own schools as well as a broader participation of the students are two of the aims in the medium term. The Scouts as well express their enthusiasm for the project and especially articulate one wish: to get to know their fellow Scouts from Austria in person. “Karibuni Mbeya!” – “Welcome to Mbeya!”