To provide training in farming, animal husbandry projects

A team of delegates from the Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat is all set to visit the Mopani District Municipality in South Africa as part of the third phase implementation of the ‘Good Practices' partnership scheme sponsored by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF).

The delegation, led by district panchayat president Remani P. Nair, is expected to visit the South African municipality on a 10-day tour in the first week of October. The six-member delegation will include standing committee chairman Anad Jayan, secretary V.S. Santhosh Kumar, and agriculture experts.

The delegation will conduct a series of training programmes on various agriculture and animal husbandry projects to be launched in the Mopani municipality as part of the partnership programme that was launched in 2009 with the visit of executives led by Mopani municipal manager Timothy Maake to Thiruvananthapuram.

“In the first visit, the team from Mopani had identified a range of potential agriculture schemes that could be replicated in their municipality. Following this, a team of experts from Thiruvananthapuram visited Mopani to analyse the feasibility of these projects based on the geographical and socio-economic conditions there. Now, we will be conducting capacity-building programmes for agriculture extension and mobilisation officers and farmers in Mopani to help them implement these projects,” Mr. Santhosh Kumar said.

A soil testing laboratory, banana cultivation though women's self-help groups, micro irrigation techniques, establishment of a piggery, and cattle rearing are among the projects to be implemented in the municipality with the technical support and knowledge sharing with the Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat.

“Mopani municipality is called the Fruit Basket of South Africa. Although agriculture is one of their main economic activities, there is a lack of expertise on advanced agricultural practices in Mopani. The technical support extended by the Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat will help them bridge this gap, especially in areas such as soil testing, micro-irrigation, and cattle rearing,” assistant executive engineer (Agriculture) M. Haja Shereef said.

“We have already given training and spot exposure on these projects to a team of high-level officials from Mopani who had visited Thiruvananthapuram in December 2010. This will be the first time that we are providing training to master trainers at the grass-roots level,” Mr. Shereef said.

He said the Mopani municipality had arranged the equipment and instruments required for the training programme.

“There has been some delay in the implementation of the partnership programme owing to the election in Kerala and the CLGF conference in Cardiff, U.K. After this training programme, the master trainers from Mopani will visit our district to see the schemes here. After this, there will be a final evaluation visit to Mopani by experts from Thiruvananthapuram. All these phases are expected to be completed by March 2012,'' Mr Shereef said.

The CLGF Good Practices Scheme is an initiative to encourage partnership programmes for sustainable local economic development between two local government institutions.