A Day in the Life of a Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer

Velma Gwishiri, Leadership Skills and Management Training for the Namubuka Grains Area Cooperative Enterprise

Editor’s Note: 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 are sharing 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. This blog carnival aims to capture and share this program experience. You can find all contributions on Agrilinks.

Ric Francis for CRS

Ric Francis for CRS

In the spring of 2014, Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Velma Gwishiri led a month-long assignment on leadership skills and management training for the Namubuka Grains Area Cooperative Enterprise (ACE) in Uganda.

Namubuka ACE was formed with the overall objective of improving smallholder farmers’ incomes and livelihoods through improving their productivity and access to competitive markets. Namubuka ACE members are farmers whose main livelihood is derived from maize cultivation on small land parcels with low yields.

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As a newly formed farmer’s cooperative, Namubuka ACE faced many challenges. Because the concept of farmers cooperatives is relatively new in Uganda, people are still largely unaware of the benefits of farmer cooperative membership. As a result, Namubuka ACE struggled with providing quality services to its members, developing effective policies and procedures, and maximizing participation by all of its members.

Thus, Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Velma was tasked with helping Namubuka ACE overcome these challenges by strengthening the leadership and management skills of the cooperative. Velma spent three weeks training board members of the Namubuka Grains Area Cooperative Enterprise so they could, in turn, train other members of their organization. She trained over 60 members on understanding their rights and responsibilities, managing conflict, and developing strategic plans.

Velma’s work led to crucial improvements for Namubuka ACE. Group leaders are using their newly acquired skills to facilitate improved food security and incomes of farmers and their entire households, as well as improved transparency and accountability for group members. In addition, increased trust in leadership has allowed for continuous supply. Now, farmers will be able to market collectively and fetch higher market prices. These improvements will enhance the living standards of rural farmers while contributing to the larger goal of making a transition from subsistence to a healthy rural cash economy.

The photos depict one day of Velma’s work with the Namubuka cooperative to see what she accomplished in just 24 hours.

Kabwangu Musar, Local Council 2 chairperson, center, and Nakitende Maimuna, right, listen as CRS Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Velma Gwishiri, oversees an outreach activity meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to inform the larger community of the work Ms. Gwishiri has done on behalf of the Farmer-to-Farmer program. Ms. Gwishiri also hoped to reach others who didn't participate in her training but who can learn corporate management and leadership lessons directly from the Namubuka group members who studied with her.  Ric Francis for CRS

Kabwangu Musar, Local Council 2 chairperson, center, and Nakitende Maimuna, right, listen as CRS Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Velma Gwishiri, oversees an outreach activity meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to inform the larger community of the work Ms. Gwishiri has done on behalf of the Farmer-to-Farmer program. Ms. Gwishiri also hoped to reach others who didn’t participate in her training but who can learn corporate management and leadership lessons directly from the Namubuka group members who studied with her. Ric Francis for CRS

While overseeing an outreach activity meeting, CRS Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Velma Gwishiri, left, blushes as Kabwangu Musar, local council 2 chairperson, and others praised her for the corporate management and leadership skills she taught under the Farmer-to-Farmer program.  Ric Francis for CRS

While overseeing an outreach activity meeting, CRS Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Velma Gwishiri, left, blushes as Kabwangu Musar, local council 2 chairperson, and others praised her for the corporate management and leadership skills she taught under the Farmer-to-Farmer program. Ric Francis for CRS

Kabwangu Musar, left, who studied with Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Velma Gwishiri, right, shows a jack fruit tree on the grounds of a fellow student's home. Mr. Musar studied corporate management and leadership with Ms. Gwishiri.  Ric Francis for CRS

Kabwangu Musar, left, who studied with Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Velma Gwishiri, right, shows a jack fruit tree on the grounds of a fellow student’s home. Mr. Musar studied corporate management and leadership with Ms. Gwishiri. Ric Francis for CRS

Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Velma Gwishiri, second from left, examines the groundnut and maize field of Nakitende Maimuna, left, as two neighbors approach. Ric Francis for CRS

Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Velma Gwishiri, second from left, examines the groundnut and maize field of Nakitende Maimuna, left, as two neighbors approach. Ric Francis for CRS

Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Velma Gwishiri, left, converses with Nakitende Maimuna, right, and her mother Hajati Nulu, center, as they cut sweet potatoes. Ric Francis for CRS

Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Velma Gwishiri, left, converses with Nakitende Maimuna, right, and her mother Hajati Nulu, center, as they cut sweet potatoes. Ric Francis for CRS

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!

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