#IYFEP meets TOP Kurs – Synergies in the AHA

by Thorben Persch

Those who know the Andreas Hermes Akademie will also be familiar with the TOP Kurs, which for nearly 50 years has been equipping young, talented volunteers from the agricultural sector with the necessary tools for their professional and personal future. The motto of the TOP Kurs "At the borders grow horizons" can also easily be applied to the IYFEP - the International Young Farmers' Exchange Programme - which has been run in conjunction with the Schorlemer Foundation and the Young Farmers' Federation of Uganda (UNYFA) since 2019.
Zwei Männer - eine Leidenschaft
Zwei Männer - eine Leidenschaft

After a break due to Corona, the IYFEP is now taking place for the second time and since April eight German and 12 Ugandan interns have been living and working on farms in each other’s countries. Host businesses in Germany and Uganda are the most important resource in the programme. On the German side, we find Steffen Thies, farmer from Schleswig-Holstein and former TOP Kurs graduate. What motivated him to take part? And what impression does our former TOP Kurs participant have?

Dear Steffen, why did you decide to participate in the IYFEP? And what role did the TOP Kurs play in this?

In December 2016, I travelled to Uganda with the 41st TOP Kurs. From that point on I formed a special connection with the country – I was blown away by the openness and hospitality. During our stay in Masaka we made valuable contacts at a workshop with young Ugandan farmers. One contact has remained with me to this day: Tonny Katumba. With the support of the harvest thanksgiving group from the Bad Bramstedt Protestant congregation, we were even able to welcome Tonny to Germany in Autumn 2018. Based on these experiences, when the Schorlemer Foundation approached me in 2019 to introduce me to IYFEP, I said yes. We ourselves find it interesting to welcome foreign cultures. In addition, furthering our English skills is a positive by-product.

How has the exchange gone so far? Have you encountered any special challenges?

The exchange with Rutah has gone great so far. Despite some initial difficulties, he has arrived and fully settled in Germany with us now. He is interested in all the processes and loves automated milking. He also likes to be the first one in the barn in the morning. In the meantime, he has got used to us and integrated very well. Communication can be a slight stumbling block, but thanks to him we have already learned a lot of additional vocabulary.

Rutah loves contact with animals and is pretty amazed about our close contact with the cattle. Every cow on our farm is halter trained, which Rutah is impressed with. He seems to feel that we work too much – which unfortunately is right. But he also sees how we are somewhat trapped in our system. With a lot of technology and significant financial expenditure, reaping the harvest doesn’t take long. To farm corn, Rutah and I prepared the soil in a 4.5 ha field, which was then sowed with corn within 90 minutes. He said he would need 30 workers for a field of that size a whole week long.

What is your impression of the Ugandan interns?

Rutah is overall a smart, young dairy farmer who is very dedicated and diligent in his work. Every now and then we visit a farm business with him. He recently had electricity installed in his home. Up to now he has milked all his eight cows by hand. It would be practical for him to have a small milking system, as well as a cooling system to increase the quality of the milk he produces.

Rutah will stay in Germany with Steffen Thies until July. After a follow-up seminar in Germany, together with the German interns, he and his comrades will return to Uganda. He’ll be taking a packed suitcase, many thoughts and ideas, as well as new friendships with colleagues in Germany.

Like to get to know Rutah? Click here

The Author

Thorben Persch

Programme Manager international

Impressionen

Rutah bei der Arbeit
Rutah bei der Arbeit
Das Team der Farm Thies
Das Team der Farm Thies
Nordisch by Nature - Rutah und Steffen
Nordisch by Nature - Rutah und Steffen
Uganda Flagge auf dem Hof Thies
Rutah bei der Arbeit
Rutah bei der Arbeit
Rutah bei der Arbeit
Familie Thies
Nordisch by Nature - Rutah und Steffen
Rutah bei der Arbeit
Rutah bei der Arbeit
Rutah bei der Arbeit

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