Innovative engagement of rural communities through students attachment programme at Egerton University

Abstract: 
Attachment of students to relevant organizations is a key component of experiential learning in institutions of higher learning. For agricultural students, engagement with rural communities enriches their training and can improve productivity at the farm level. Annually, Egerton University prepares over 400 undergraduate students for attachment to agri-based institutions. This paper documents the design, implementation, challenges, SWOT analysis and impacts of a farm attachment programme (FAP) from 2016 to 2019. In FAP, a students is attached to a farm for a minimum of 8 weeks, and the university engages with the same farmer continuously for at least three years. The first cohort conducts a farm situation analysis from which a farm plan is developed or improved. Subsequent cohorts execute the plan based on the farmer’s capability and interest. Over 450 students and 360 farmers or farm organizations have participated in FAP since 2016. Challenges encountered include poor flow of information between students from one cohort to another, lack of engagement framework of farmers between cohorts and cost of implementing the programme. Proposed interventions for dealing with these challenges are documented. Student responsiveness to address farm challenges was one of the main strength of FAP while increased access to technology was the main opportunity. Limited resources for farmers to implement interventions and short attachment duration are the main weakness and threat of FAP, respectively. By 2017, students in FAP had presented twenty-four (24) common agricultural practices to farmers. A survey of 100 farmers participating in FAP recorded an overall adoption rate of 43.2% of these practices, a rate that is much higher than in conventional extension models for such practices. Factors influencing the adoption rate are discussed. Strategies aimed at redesigning and strengthening the farm attachment programme to enhance students’ experiential learning and farm productivity are outlined.
Language: 
Date of publication: 
2018
Country: 
Region Focus: 
East Africa
Volume: 
17
Number: 
1
Pagination: 
107-119
Collection: 
RUFORUM Working document series
Licence conditions: 
Open Access
Access restriction: 
Form: 
Web resource
ISSN: 
1607-9345
E_ISSN: 
Edition: 
Extent: 
13