Thursday, March 27, 2014

Building Farmers of the Future Awareness and Support at the Highest Levels of Government

To build momentum and attract funding for the Farmers of the Future expansion, we’ve been working to gain endorsements at the highest levels of the government. During the Niger trip, meetings were held with: Niger’s First Lady, the High Commissioner of the “3-N Initiative” (Niger’s national priority to achieve food self sufficiency) and his chief councilor, and the National Minister of Agriculture. All were very positive about the Farmers of the Future concept and supportive of expanding the program. 

Agricultural Fair - Sardore women and FOF team
The First Lady gave us an hour of her time and expressed her gratitude for our efforts to alleviate poverty in Niger. She has a foundation of her own, the Guri Foundation, which focuses on health, education, and the environment. She saw many parallels between her work and Farmers of the Future. When we described the transformation that has occurred in the Sadoré village, the first to implement the Farmers of the Future program (see Dov Pasternak's guest post on the blog, or on Scribd), her response was, "This is a miracle!" She asked how she can be of help to us in expanding the program, and extended an open invitation to continue our dialog.   

Women's Association at Sadore
The meeting with the Minister of Agriculture was arranged on short notice. He was very busy preparing for Niger's national agricultural exhibition starting the next day, but was gracious with his time and very interested in what we presented. Having endorsements from such high-level government officials helps open doors and raises the project's stature in the eyes of potential funders. 


We also met with the director of the Kollo vocational training school, which falls under the Minister of Agriculture's jurisdiction. Kollo is the only technical high school in Niger. They have 600 students enrolled in 5 main courses of study, including agricultural production, which graduates about 30-35 students each year. They have just been granted permission to add 2 years of additional training for students who want a masters level degree as horticultural technicians. EPN is exploring partnering with Kollo on the horticultural training.

Onions in Gonzare's vegetable garden

When John wrote to Judy about the meetings, he said, "If we could script how the meetings would go, it couldn't be better than what actually happened!"

No comments:

Post a Comment