National Farmers Union member and Farmer-to-Farmer veteran returns to Zambia for a third time

IMG 0455.CR2 60c87IMG 0455.CR2 60c87Bob Shumaker, center, visits NCBA CLUSA headquarters ahead of his assignment with wife Yasinta, left, and friend

October 15, 2015

Bob Shumaker will return to Zambia for a third time to work with the Chipata District Farmers Association (CDFA) on soil fertility and management specifically focusing on peanuts. He first began work with the group in 2012 training on vegetable production and returned soon after to establish a cooperative based on the seven international co-op principles.

On this trip he will share his expertise in soil testing, management and fertilization for peanuts, including blended fertilizer demonstrations for CDFA farmers.

Shumaker first heard about the Farmer-to-Farmer program through his membership in the National Farmers Union – one of NCBA CLUSA’s member organizations. And after his first trip, he came back to volunteer again and again.

“It is the real thing. Hands on, hit the ground running, and finish with a sense of accomplishment!... I can tell you I miss them and will be happy to again be working towards a common goal,” said Shumaker.

In total, Shumaker has gone on four assignments through NCBA CLUSA's Farmer-to-Farmer program, including one with his wife, who he met in Zambia, in 2013 to lead trainings in Senegal for women farmers. The two worked with 150 women in two groups, training them in marketing and market access, including skills like financial literacy, business plan development and communication strategies.

“I go back because we make a difference. NCBA [CLUSA] sets the parameters of the responsibility, and just takes care of the details, which allows you to get things done,” he said. The two to three week Farmer-to-Farmer assignments are requested by organizations on the ground and are fully funded through the project, volunteers simply bring their expertise to groups who have a specific need.

In addition to soil fertility, Shumaker will be checking in on the cooperative he helped to form years ago, meeting with the cooperative leaders and discussing some of the management issues. He hopes to see the same energy and life in the cooperative as when he left.

“It is an awesome adventure. You learn about people, a different place and life,” Shumaker said, when asked if he would recommend the program. Mr. Shumaker lives in Alaska and has raised livestock for over 20 years and farmed vegetables for over 15 years. He is the president of the Alaska Farmers Union.

The Zambia Famer-to-Farmer assignments are implemented by NCBA CLUSA through a Volunteers for Economic Growth (VEGA) Special Program Support Project (SPSP). In Senegal, NCBA CLUSA implements this program under an agreement with ACDI/VOCA. The Farmer-to-Farmer program is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). To learn more about NCBA CLUSA's Farmer-to-Farmer program, click here.



NBCA CLUSA begins work to improve the dairy and beef industry in Dominican Republic

Cow DR cab80Cow DR cab80Cow belonging to Loma de Cabrera Dairy Farmers Association, in the Dominican Republic. Credit: USAID

(October 14, 2015)

NCBA CLUSA recently signed a $16.2 million dollar cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), under the USDA Food for Progress Act, to implement a project in the dairy and beef sectors in the Dominican Republic.

The five-year project, called the Safe Agriculture/Food Export (SAFE) program, will be implemented through 2020 and work with dairy and beef producers to improve agricultural productivity for livestock and expand exports and trade.

The SAFE program is NCBA CLUSA’s return to the Dominican Republic after projects in the 1980s over 25 years ago. The program targets 66,000 individuals benefitting from trade and improved production interventions.

Working with smallholder livestock owners with 100 heads of cattle or less, NCBA CLUSA will partner with milk and beef processing centers to train farmers on improved herd management and production techniques. For the dairy sector, pasture management, animal nutrition, herd management, and sanitary milking and milk handling practices will be emphasized. Training for beef producers will include improved pasture seed and feed, artificial insemination, herd management, nutrition, and the use of veterinary pharmaceuticals.

Trainings will be held through agriculture extension agents at farm field schools. These extension agents will set up demonstration plots and pastures to show how improved techniques can keep a herd healthy and profitable while adhering to international certifications for export quality products. The end of the program targets Dominican exports to the U.S. to exceed $3 million USD. Overall sales of beef and dairy products for client producers are targeted to exceed $800 million USD.

Junta Agroempresarial Dominicana (JAD), Cooperative Resources International (CRI), and Texas A&M Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture are partnering on the project, training agriculture extension specialists. In addition, Texas A&M University will lead exchange visits and conduct an equivalency analysis to study the U.S. and Puerto Rico Beef Regulatory system, training Dominican Republic government officials and private company representatives in trade policy analysis, and advocacy for the beef and dairy industries.



Philanthropist Howard Buffett praises co-ops in development work

howard buffett coops 1265ahoward buffett coops 1265aSpeaking on food security at the opening of his 40 Chances exhibit at the Newseum in Washington, DC, philanthropist Howard Buffett (son of investor Warren Buffett) praised cooperatives for their role in connecting smallholder farmers to local and international markets. NCBA CLUSA's Amy Coughenour was able to ask a question on the role of co-ops and farmers associations in the Howard Buffett Foundation's work during the panel, which also hosted Emmanuel De Merode, Director of Virunga National Park. Earlier in the evening, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair also spoke.

"I think co-ops are a really important aspect to having success," said Buffett. He discussed how working in Central America, his organizations supported a cooperative in their efforts to get a lawyer to help the organization get through the bureaucratic laws for export market access. Working at the organizational level helps those who individually would not be able to access those markets.

See the short video with his comments here.



President of Mozambique says country needs more cooperatives

moz pres at AMPCM bf217moz pres at AMPCM bf217President Nvusi of Mozambique speaks with an AMPCM board member at the Agriculture, Industry and Commerce Fair.

September 22, 2015

Attending Mozambique’s annual Agriculture, Industry and Commerce Fair, Mozambique President Filipe Nvusi interacted with NCBA CLUSA and local partner Mozambican Association for the Promotion of Modern Cooperatives (AMPCM) and said that the country “needs more cooperatives.”

AMPCM is a local organization working to promote cooperatives and partners with NCBA CLUSA on the USAID-funded Cooperative Development Project (CDP) in Mozambique. The focus of the Mozambique CDP program is to support cooperative law and regulation reform through advocacy and the education of local, governmental and public stakeholders.

Presence at the fair put the program and the benefits of the cooperative business model in front of more than 73,000 attendees, including foreign dignitaries, international organizations and local government officials led by President Nvusi.

Through institutional strengthening trainings in human resources, financial management, organizational governance and sustainability, NCBA CLUSA has positioned AMPCM as the leader in cooperative development in Mozambique. Since 2009, AMPCM has led promotion, education and advocacy efforts on behalf of cooperatives across all sectors. The 23 AMPCM current members are serving 2,234 cooperatives and pre-cooperatives, involving 165,000 members in cooperative businesses working in agro-livestock, credit, health, production/industrial enterprises, health and housing.

NCBA CLUSA also caught the eye of President Nvusi at another trade event last month to promote the work of the organization's conservation farming initiative PROMAC, funded by the Government of Norway.

The Agriculture, Industry and Commerce Fair is more than 50 years old. An event that began in colonial times, the Portuguese originally hosted the fair to attract investors by showcasing agriculture and industry in Mozambique. Today, the event focuses on local innovation.

AMPCM distributed information about the new cooperative law in Mozambique, which was passed though the advocacy efforts of NCBA CLUSA’s CDP program in 2009. The law created an enabling environment for cooperatives and smallholder farmers to perform business while reducing national and local barriers to registration and providing legal recognition of the new cooperative model, developed by NCBA CLUSA.



NCBA CLUSA Farmer-to-Farmer Program returns to Zambia

F2f Zambia jock and randy 8a68dF2f Zambia jock and randy 8a68dJock Brandis and Randy Shackleford working with farmers in Zambia. Photo - Full Belly Project

(September 8, 2015)

NCBA CLUSA's Farmer-to-Farmer program, funded by USAID and implemented through Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) Special Program Support Project (SPSP), returns to Zambia with two volunteers headed to work with farmers' cooperatives to address the issues of peanut processing, with particular focus on reducing levels of the harmful carcinogen, aflatoxin, that can be found in peanut processing.

Jock Brandis and Randy Shackelford both work for Full Belly Project, a nonprofit based in Wilmington, NC that designs and produces income-generating agricultural technologies for farmers in the U.S. and abroad. They will put their peanut shelling technology to work in Zambia as they educate farmers on the negative health and production impacts of aflatoxin infestation in peanuts and provide training in post-harvest handling and storage techniques that will help reduce aflatoxin levels in their peanuts. Brandis will work with the Chipata District Farmers Association and Shackelford will work members of the Community Oriented Development Program.

Both the Chiapata District Farmers Association and Community Oriented Development Program have had NCBA CLUSA Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers before. Those volunteers helped the organization register as a cooperative in Zambia, as well as trained producers on marketing their products in 2013. With this history with Farmer-to-Farmer, the organizations requested the current assignments, knowing they would get the right expertise.

The USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program sends American farmers and agribusiness professionals on 2-3 week agricultural development assignments, promoting sustainable economic growth and agricultural development worldwide.

Volunteer technical assistance from U.S. farmers, agribusinesses, cooperatives, and universities helps smallholder farmers in developing countries improve productivity, access new markets, and conserve environmental and natural resources. NCBA CLUSA’s Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers work in Senegal and Zambia with farmers, producer groups, rural businesses and service providers.

We will catch up with Jock and Randy when they return, and are excited to be sending expertise and Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers back to Zambia!

Want to know more about the Farmer-to-Farmer program or how to volunteer? Click here.



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