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Winrock International

Volunteer Post

Transforming Agriculture Into Artisanal Craftsmanship: The Farmer-to-Farmer Project in Senegal [SEN343]

Assignment SEN343

Eric M. Washington

The world of agriculture is vast and diverse, embracing not just the cultivation of crops but also the numerous creative ways in which these resources can be utilized. Recently, a unique Farmer-to-Farmer project carried out under the aegis of Winrock International has illustrated this eloquently.

In this remarkable initiative, our committed volunteers, Mrs. Ndeye Fatou Ba, and Mr. Robert Spencer, collaborated to impart artisanal soap-making skills to the community of GPM Mankou in Senegal. The primary objective was to enable the beneficiaries to diversify their income sources and elevate the quality of their existing products.

Mrs. Ba, our national volunteer, led the hands-on training activities, sharing soap-making recipes provided by the remote volunteer, Mr. Spencer. This potent mix of local and international knowledge provided a rich learning environment for the participants.

Their combined approach was centered around using local agricultural products, focusing on hygiene and quality standards. The duo demonstrated resourcefulness in their teaching methods, ensuring understanding and effectively overcoming language barriers with professional translations.

The response from the community was overwhelmingly positive. Participants demonstrated an infectious enthusiasm, actively engaged in the training sessions, and raised pertinent questions to deepen their understanding. They grasped the transformational potential of their agricultural resources, appreciating the capacity to turn ordinary plants and herbs into valuable artisanal soaps.

Some participants have already expressed interest in forming a “soapwort team” or working group to apply their newly acquired knowledge further. The aim? To take this newfound craft to new heights and add an impressive dimension to their agricultural work.

The impact of this Farmer-to-Farmer project is best captured by the words of Madame Mariama BA, who is responsible for the women’s committee of GPM Mankou. She shares, “We will now be able to add more value to our plants and herbs. We have a lot of different things we can use to make soap, and they are medicinal. This soap-making training really opened our eyes to let us know we are in a rich environment. Thank you to Mrs. Ba and Robert Spencer.”

This transformative project by Winrock International demonstrates the immense possibilities of combining agricultural practices with ingenuity and creativity. Through this initiative, we are proud to contribute to the enrichment of local communities, promoting economic diversity, and enhancing the standard of their goods. Here is to more successes, learnings, and breakthroughs in the journey ahead!