The Farmer-to-Farmer program was initially authorized by Congress in the 1985 Farm Bill and was funded through Title V of Public Law 480. The program was later designated as the “John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program” in honor of one of the American Airlines pilots killed 11 Sept. 2001 and of former Congressman Bereuter, who initially sponsored the program. John Ogonowski was not only a pilot, but also a farmer who worked extensively training immigrants from Cambodia as a farmer–mentor (U.S. Agency for International Development, 2019). The program was initiated to assist developing countries, middle-income countries, emerging markets, sub-Saharan African countries, and Caribbean Basin countries in increasing farm production and incomes. The Farmer-to-Farmer Program promotes sustainable economic growth, food security, and agricultural development worldwide. Volunteer technical assistance from U.S. farmers, agribusinesses, cooperatives, and universities helps developing countries improve productivity, access new markets, build local capacity, combat climate change, and conserve environmental and natural resources (U.S. Agency for International Development, 2019). This people-to-people exchange also promotes international goodwill, understanding of U.S. foreign assistance programs, and private involvement in development activities.
Although the program is administered by USAID, the agency does not have enough humanpower to operate it directly, so several organizations bid to conduct Farmer-to-Farmer operations in the various countries selected by USAID. The program mirrors the time frame of the Farm Bill that funds it, so contracts between these various agencies and USAID are for 5 years. Winrock International (Little Rock, AR) was the contractor designated to operate the program in Senegal during the 2013–18 funding cycle when I conducted my training program. Winrock International currently uses recruiters in the United States to find volunteers for the program, and the agency also posts volunteer opportunities on their website, www.winrock.org. On the website, each project is described briefly and anyone interested in volunteering for a project is invited to contact one of the recruiters to discuss the opportunity further. If the volunteer appears to be qualified for the project, the recruiter will usually share a more complex scope of work (SOW) with the prospective volunteer. That is what occurred with this project. The SOW executive summary stated that the Vocational Training Center (CFP) at Djilor had requested the support of a Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer for a 17-d volunteer assignment (including travel) to Djilor Saloum, Senegal. In Senegal, warm temperatures can be expected all year. Senegal registers more than 300 sunny days per year and there are two seasons: the dry season (December–April) and the rainy season (May–November). During the dry season, the average daily high is 85 °F and the average low is 70 °F. During the rainy season, the average daily high is 82 °F and the average low temperature is 78 °F (Winrock International, unpublished data).
The production of ornamental plants and flowers could become an important sector of horticulture in Senegal, although there is very limited local knowledge. This sector has seen an important renewal of interest in the population (green spaces in urban houses), the municipalities (green spaces in main public squares and along urban streets), and in businesses (green spaces around hotels and office buildings). With almost half of its population living in urban areas, Senegal is ahead of sub-Saharan Africa’s average urbanization rate of 40%. Senegal’s urban population has almost doubled during the past five decades, increasing from 23% in 1960 to 43% in 2013, and is projected to reach 60% by 2030 (Rouhana and Ranarifidy, 2016).
This posted opportunity was described as a training-of-trainers assignment during which the volunteer would train CFP trainers on flower and ornamental plant production practices for replication to their trainees. In addition, the volunteer would work with the training center to formalize a syllabus and curricula for use in future training on this important topic. It is important to keep in mind that the volunteer also needed substantial time to prepare for the assignment. I have been teaching various ornamental horticulture production classes for more than 20 years, I have had a lot of experience designing horticulture curricula, and I have already completed several Farmer-to-Farmer projects for Winrock International, so we were familiar with each other. I was pleased to accept the assignment when it was offered. Successful completion of the project depended on careful preparation of materials and ordering of supplies, as well as planning for both classes and meetings with trainers. Classes and training sessions were conducted in English and a translator was present to translate English lectures into the local language, Wolof, as well as into French if needed. Materials left in Senegal could be translated locally.
Ning, G. 2017 Amateur florists thrive in Senegal’s plant industry. 15 May 2018. <https://news.cgtn.com/news/3d6b544d7a497a4d/share_p.html>
PROTA Foundation 2011 African ornamentals, proposals and examples. PROTA Foundation, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Rouhana, S. & Ranarifidy, D. 2016 Cities for an emerging Senegal. Africa Can End Poverty, World Bank . . . Blogs. 15 June 2018. <http://blogs.worldbank.org/africacan/cities-for-an-emerging-senegal>
U.S. Agency for International Development 2019 Farmer to farmer, the USAID John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter farmer-to-farmer program. 4 Apr. 2018. <http://farmer-to-farmer.org/about>