Today’s blog post comes from Winrock staff Gelsey Bennett, reflecting on the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program and how it has impacted her career:
“Although I just recently started working for Winrock International’s Volunteer Technical Assistance team supporting the USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer for Agriculture Education and Training program, my first experience with F2F took place seven years ago. This has been one of the pivotal moments in my career, helping me understand the power of volunteerism and people-to-people exchanges.
In 2008, I helped write the Central Asia Farmer-to-Farmer Program final report. I visited Kyrgyzstan, where I interviewed farmers about how the F2F program benefited their production, incomes, and livelihoods. My experience with a group of women farmers was particularly outstanding and demonstrated to me personally the valuable impact of the Farmer-to-Farmer program. Ms. Yuldasheva Muborak told me about the technical assistance that she and other women farmers received in improved cherry tree pruning and growing techniques. As a result of this training, she became a cherry tree pruning trainer in her community and helped other farmers apply these techniques. She informed me that her income had increased as a result of the effect of the improved pruning techniques on her production. Ms. Muborak and a group of women farmers recognized the important of investing in their businesses and used the additional income to purchase a truck to take the cherries to market directly and decrease reliance on middlemen.
By talking to Farmer-to-Farmer beneficiaries, I came to understand the power of this program: not only do beneficiaries learn skills to make their businesses more successful, but they ultimately sustain their improved livelihoods by investing in their business and imparting new skills to others in their communities. This is possible thanks to the generosity of our volunteers and their commitment to help farmers around the globe. Through Farmer-to-Farmer, volunteers have been helping to harnesses meaningful change in the lives the beneficiaries and their communities for 30 years!”