Farmer to Farmer Program Promotes Economic Growth and Agricultural Development in East Africa
Paul Ohlrogge, from UW-Extension in Iowa County travelled to Uganda for 3 weeks to share his technical skills and expertise with local farmers, cooperative leaders and local extension staff near the Nile River in northern Uganda. Paul’s assignment is part of Catholic Relief Services’ Farmer-to-Farmer (FTF) program that promotes economic growth, leadership development, food security, and agricultural development in East Africa.
“It is great to see leadership of farming cooperatives understand the need to shift from farming for food to farming as a business in their villages. The four cooperatives I worked with were excited to have participated in leadership training and skill development. This will make them highly credible for accreditation with national programs but more importantly with the cooperative member’s right in the area. I’m grateful to have been part of each cooperative developing their own plan, and seeing their smiles when it was done.” said Paul.
Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the five-year program matches the technical assistance of U.S. farmers, agribusinesses, cooperatives, and universities to help farmers in developing countries improve agricultural productivity, access new markets, and increase their incomes.
In Uganda, Paul worked with West Nile Private Sector (WENIPS) Centre, a program that looks similar to an extension staff. Paul trained the WENIPS staff and then assisted the staff as they trained cooperative leaders. Trainings focused on leadership, organizational development and training to the West Nile staff as well as the farming cooperatives to enable them to understand how to develop a cooperative business plan with a goal to grow their cooperatives. Paul tapped into the curriculum of the Community Leadership Alliance, a SW-Wisconsin award winning leadership development program. Paul used pieces of the curriculum and conducted the Colors (a personality assessment) workshop five times in Uganda, as well as abbreviated trainings in conflict resolution, communication, writing impact reports, logic model training, Emotional Intelligence and running effective meeting. Up to 143 beneficiaries were reached in Nebbi and Zombo Districts in Uganda. Nebbi is near the Congo border and is a nine hour ride for the Kampala, Uganda’s capital. One of the most interesting comments from a cooperative member was from a man named Baptiste, who mentioned that this training is lie “ a cultural shift, in that we are now concentrating on farming together verses an independent farmer.”
Paul’s volunteer assignment is one of nearly 500 assignments that focus on agriculture, food security. Leadership, organizational development and nutrition in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. This is the first time CRS has been involved in the 28-year-old Farmer-to-Farmer Program funded by the U.S. government. The U.S. volunteers will travel to East Africa for anywhere from one to six weeks, their expenses covered by USAID. UW-Extension on the other hand has had a long history with USAID and the Farmer to Farmer program and has had faculty serve as volunteers in many regions around the world sharing resources form the University of Wisconsin. Paul said it is the Wisconsin Idea…..world wide!
“One thing we are certain of is that this program will be beneficial not just to the farmers in East Africa, but also to the volunteers from America,” said Bruce White, CRS’ director for the program. “It’s going to make the world a little bit smaller for everyone involved.”
For more information, visit farmertofarmer.crs.org