Agrilinks Blog Carnival: What We've Learned
This article is a contribution to a week-long blog carnival on USAID's John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program. From July 14-18, F2F program partners and American volunteers shared their knowledge and experience of providing technical assistance to farmers, farm groups, agribusinesses, service providers, and other agriculture sector institutions in developing and transitional countries. You can find all contributions on Agrilinks.
Thank you for joining us this week to learn more about the Farmer-to-Farmer program, hear from volunteers, understand the challenges the program combats, and learn about the outcomes and impacts individual volunteers and the program as a whole have had over time.
On Monday, we were introduced to the Farmer-to-Farmer program and the organizations that send volunteers and provide assistance through F2F. We also learned what makes F2F and the organizations and volunteers who participate unique.
On Tuesday, we heard directly from volunteers about their work and experiences on Farmer-to-Farmer assignments. Although their assignments span 20 different countries across 4 continents, their stories all note several experiences common to all F2F assignments:
- Enthusiastic welcome from local hosts and farmers
- Eagerness of farmers and training beneficiaries to learn and improve their skills
- Dedication of F2F staff
- Need for flexibility! No two days on an F2F assignment are alike!
- Insights into local food, culture, and the way people really live
- Rewards of helping people improve their livelihoods and food security
Even though the living conditions, working environments, and resources available are vastly different than the U.S., volunteers feel welcomed and at home, and recognize that farmers everywhere face similar challenges and have similar goals and dreams.
Wednesday’s posts introduced us to the real food security challenges Farmer-to-Farmer hosts and beneficiaries face in the field—challenges that F2F volunteers work to combat.
- Poor access to necessary inputs and labor-saving equipment and machinery
- Lack of dietary diversity, adequate nutrition and access to food year-round
- Little access to markets and financial services
- Post-harvest handling and food storage
F2F is able to address these challenges in a unique way, through our hands on, people-to-people approach, connecting one practitioner to another.
As we learned on Thursday, the technical assistance and support F2F hosts and beneficiaries receive through the program also doesn’t end with the assignment. Hosts continue to receive support, through follow-up assignments, by the same or other volunteers, and through personal contact with volunteers after they have returned to the U.S. F2F also provides ongoing support through the connections volunteers help their hosts to make within their communities. Peer-to-peer support, through formation of cooperatives and associations, and through training of trainer activities, is one way this happens. Another is through capacity development of hosts that expands their access to resources and support services. F2F training in record keeping and business planning, for instance, often helps hosts to access loans or grants. Collective purchase or collective sales and formation of cooperatives and associations increases individuals’ bargaining power and helps them access resources and receive services. Increasing productivity and sales—and corresponding increases in income—makes resources and services easier to access as well.
F2F assignments make a real difference—both to the hosts, beneficiaries, and communities who receive support, and to the volunteers who travel to share their expertise—in ways that stand the test of time.
If you are interested in learning more about the program, or in getting involved as a volunteer or partner, please visit the new F2F Agrilinks page at http://agrilinks.org/activity/john-ogonowski-and-doug-bereuter-farmer-farmer-program.
As aligned with Feed the Future, the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative, F2F works to support inclusive agriculture sector growth, facilitate private sector engagement in the agriculture sector, enhance development of local capacity and promote climate-smart development. Volunteer assignments address host-led priorities to expand economic growth that increases incomes and improves access to nutritious food. Read more articles on this topic on Agrilinks. Also, make sure to subscribe to receive a daily digest in your inbox, for one week only!