Winrock Program Officer Gelsey Bennett shares an update on recent Farmer-to-Farmer activities in Mali:
Over the last six months, Winrock’s USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) for Agriculture Education and Training (AET) Program fielded four volunteers in Mali to support the Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE)-Mali program. SAFE provides leadership for building capacity in agricultural extension. SAFE-Mali works with farmer-based organizations (FBOs) to strengthen value chains through AET training for their partners and pools of trainers. The F2F assignments with SAFE-Mali covered effective teaching, business development and entrepreneurship, marketing and competiveness, and post-harvest technologies.
Dr. Assa Kanté, SAFE-Mali’s Coordinator, was very pleased with the volunteer assignments. She explained how the volunteers built the capacity of FBOs. “This is a paradigm shift,” she noted. “The volunteers raised the awareness of extension agents as well as FBO leaders on their role in the value chains. I am very happy with the interventions of the volunteers, they on target. We hope to get more.”
One of the assignments was conducted by Michael Swan, an education specialist. Dr. Kanté notes, “The faculty attending the trainings were excited and wanted to learn how to become better and more efficient teachers. They expressed the desire to change and were willing to try to become effective teachers. They were open to new ideas and assistance in making changes to become better at their jobs. They just need the tools and be given the support to make the changes.”
All the materials that the volunteers provided for the assignments have been translated into French and have been assembled in booklets to share with the FBOs through extension agents. This way, the volunteers’ trainings will be replicated, reaching many more farmers in Mali!
We will look forward to following up with SAFE-Mali and the training participants to see what changes they put into action as a result of this F2F assistance.