Hidden in the hills of Sheema district, on a dusty road, a blue signpost welcomes you to Kitagata Farm Institute. A sweet scent of flowers hits you as the evening breeze sweeps through the compound.
Unlike many other institutes that are rotting away, Kitagata Farm Institute recently had a facelift. New buildings were constructed which breathed new life into the institute.
The institute which sits on about 50 acres of land was set up in 1984. It was meant to give the youth skills in both technical and agricultural training.
By then there were only a handful of students, but the numbers have since increased. Kitagata Institute has been fully refurbished. It boasts of state of the art machinery in its workshops and a huge farm. It has a variety of departments, including that of animal husbandry and gardening. Other courses include bricklaying and carpentry.
The institute has huge plantations and farms. In addition it has a pig sty, a poultry farm and rabbit hutch. "This institute does not buy food. We have plantations and all the food we eat is from our gardens," the deputy principal, Wilson Kanuunu says.
The institute admits Primary Seven, Senior Four and Senior Six. There are also four government farm schools that admit primary school leavers.
They include Rwampara Farm School, Rwentanga in Mbarara and Ssese Farm schools. Eng. Henry Francis Okinyal, the commissioner for vocational education says vocational training is crucial for any country's development.
Despite the good structures, the institute does not have enough machinery in some of the workshops. A small library is all that the growing numbers of students have to depend on.
At times, Kitagata depends on borrowed books from the neighbouring institutes. Some of the institute's instructors are still waiting for government support. Like most institutes upcountry, there is a problem of power cuts which leads to lessons to be called off.
The institute is also suffers massive understaffed. They depend on both qualified and unqualified staff since there are a very few teachers on the payroll.
Kitagata technical institute has started a candle making Kitagata business, among several other projects.
The institute also plans to start short courses in technical education. Modern advanced agricultural practices will also be included in the syllabus.
About sh1bn is needed to completely renovate Kitagata Farm Institute institution.