He has only been at Kabulonga Boys Secondary School for less than a year yet his passion and desire for farming seems to outlive his stay at the school.
Like his fellow grade 10 pupils, Ngwane does not take agriculture science as a subject but his interest has been triggered by the science and scale of agricultural activities the school is involved in at their production units.
Ngwane whose initial career pathway was to become an Inspector General in the Police Service appears to be challenged by a serious call to become a commercial farmer.
‘Ever since I came to this school I have been fascinated at a variety of crops, livestock and number of fish ponds the school has ventured into at its production unit. We grow a variety of vegetables such as tomatoes, cabbages and also keep fish which we harvest and sell’ Ngwane said.
He says when he completes his secondary and tertiary education, he intends to do farming at a large scale, feed the nation and earn more money.
Ngwane was seen with his friends keenly asking the teachers and other exhibitors during the school’s value addition exposition.
The value addition expo whose theme was ‘Economic development through value addition’ show cased a number of value addition innovations and technologies by the school, the National Science Centre and other private and public agro companies.
The school management and Parents Teachers Association decided to host the expo at the same time with the open day for the examination classes and invited all parents to see what the school is able to produce at their production unit.
School head teacher Jolly Nalili says through the value addition intervention, schools could maximize their benefits from their primary products like fish, tomatoes, chickens and goats.
He says the school has been adding value to the fish, chickens and goats by smoking them, packaging and selling at higher prices.
‘We believe if we went the value addition way we can actually maximize on our produce and the proceeds will go towards the support of the teaching and learning process’ the head said.
Mr. Nalili says schools should not be lamenting to government all the time for funding when they have the potential to generate their own funds.
‘A school is a thinking community, we do not outsource funds, the teachers here are able to come up with ways which they can supplement and compliment government funding’ He said.
The head teacher says as long as government is able to pay salaries for the teachers and workers, the school can come in with other things through the production unit and provide quality education because quality education costs money.
Mr. Nalili says the school had this year projected to increase production and productivity at the production unit but were affected by the Covid 19 pandemic.
‘We are currently at 80 % production, had it not been for Covid 19, we could have hit 100%,’ Mr. Nalili explained.
The Value addition expo also coincided with the second harvesting of fish from the fish ponds which was witnessed by the parents, teachers, pupils and officials from the Ministry of General Education.
Mr. Nalili is convinced that if all the schools in the country engaged in fish farming, schools can significantly contribute to the national economy and also reduce the national annual fish deficit currently estimated at 87,000 tons.
‘We have two ponds and we harvest between 3 to 4 tons of fish per pond and we have over 10,000 schools in the country, so if every school had a fish pond just like the one we have, schools could produce 40,000 tons of fish and significantly reduce the deficit and contribute positively to the gross domestic product,’ Mr. Nalili said.
He said the fish from the fish pond is fed to the learners while the excess is sold to the community, either fresh or in value form through smoking.
‘Under the School Health and Nutrition programme we are supposed to feed the learners from disadvantaged homes, so a child at this school is able to buy meal of , with fish at only K5 so that they stay in school longer,’ he explained.
Mr. Nalili said apart from being a fundraiser, the production units also provide an opportunity for learners to acquire skills.
‘Through production units we are transferring skills to the learners because once they leave school, it is not all of them who will have a white collar job, so if they learn these skills here, they will be very productive members of the community where they come from,’ he said.
And officially launching the Value Addition Exposition, Ministry of General Education Permanent Secretary in charge of Technical Services Jobbicks Kalumba challenged schools in the country to add value to the education they are providing to the learners.
Dr. Kalumba said the curriculum currently being taught must be translated into practical products that will add value to the lives of the learners.
‘Schools should develop research and technology innovations that will add value to the primary products from the production units that the schools are engaged in’, Dr. Kalumba urged.
Dr. Kalumba said this in a speech read on his behalf by Director of National Science Centre Dr. Benson Banda.
Meanwhile a Technician at the National Science Centre has developed a kiln that will preserve most of the products from the school production units by drying them.
Darius Katuka a senior technical officer says the National Science Centre started the research last year in May and by March this year they started developing the prototype machine.
‘We used to experience a lot of splits and cracks when working with wood in the workshop as a result of moisture in the wood, so we decided to develop a kiln that would season or dry the wood to at least over 90 percent,’ Mr. Katuka explained.
He said after succeeding in seasoning or drying the wood, they discovered that the machine could also dry vegetables like rape, cabbage, tomatoes and fish.
Mr. Katuka said in interpreting the Ministry of General Education concept on school production unit, they started experimenting on the kiln to see how best it can dry vegetables at optimum temperatures to ensure that schools do not waste their produce but add value.
‘The machine operates with electricity and firewood, when we do a robust approach, we will roll it out to the rest of the country,’ Mr. Katuka added. NAIS