John is not one to gush, so we knew it was really true when he said that the Farmers of the Future official launching ceremony was "Outstanding!"
There were representatives from throughout the government, including the Minister of Education (who gave an enthusiastically supportive welcoming speech) the Minister of Livestock, a member of the Prime Minister's Cabinet, the current and former Mayors of Libore, and the tribal Chef de Canton.
The U.S. Embassy was represented by USAID. Other international agencies, including UNDP, ADF and Rotary, also sent representatives. Not to worry about the alphabet soup-- just know that these are key players in development in Africa, and it was wonderful to have them all represented at the launching ceremony.
After opening prayers and welcoming speeches, the school children performed. First was a song and dance, and then they presented a skit they had written of a formal Farmers of the Future launch ceremony, with each student playing a member of the government, and giving speeches about what they liked about the program and what they were learning!
At the end of the program, Sidi (our Project
Manager for Farmers of the Future) and Hamani (head of LIBO, our partner in Niger) led tours of the Gueriguinde school mini-farm. It looked beautiful, and the attendees spent much time there, asking questions and further expressing their wholehearted support.
Among the praise were these remarks:
- "Farmers of the Future is a key strategy for achieving our national goal, the 3 N's: Nigeriens Nourissent les Nigeriens (Nigeriens feeding themselves)."
- "This program is exactly what the country needs."
- "John and Robin need to meet the Prime Minister." And they are invited to a gala next Tuesday night to do just that!
Eliminate Poverty Now has been optimistic about the level of support in the country of Niger for this program. We know that support at the national level will be key to a successful expansion of the program once we finish with the pilot phase. Today we see clearly that we already have that support. It was especially gratifying that even though Dov Pasternak, Eliminate Poverty Now, and Pencils for Kids were seated in places of honor, the ceremony was organized and carried out entirely by Nigeriens.
They themselves own Farmers of the Future.