I just got back from Tanzania with the Farmer to Farmer program that promotes economic growth and Agricultural development in East Africa!
I traveled to Tanzania for 2½ weeks to share my technical skills and expertise with local farmers. My assignment is part of Catholic Relief Services’ Farmer-to-Farmer (CRS FTF) program that promotes economic growth, food security, and agricultural development in East Africa.
In addition to being a map printer, I am a smallholder farmer. I grow food for my family and am the chair of the Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association. This experience gave me the opportunity to stretch my limits. I have always found that I learn so much from teaching others. Plus, it is awesome to share the knowledge and experience that I have gained over the years, with a project promoting social justice.
In Tanzania, I worked with Caritas Mbeya, training in organizational development, association strengthening, and giving technical assistance to smallholder farmers. The objective is to enable smallholder farmer groups in Mbalizi Parish to improve leadership and management, enhanced group dynamics and cohesion, strengthen their associations and cooperation. 121 farmers attended the trainings, which will benefit up to 3000 villagers in the area.
I taught the farmers in Mchewe, Itimba, and Muvwa Villages in Mbeya, Tanzania about contracts and contract farming. We analyzed the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities of their groups. Strong cooperative groups will help the farmers pool their resources to balance their power with the middlemen/buyers, and obtain contracts to sell a larger amount of product. The groups will be able to support members and save product to sell when scarce and prices are higher. We discussed, target markets and marketing mix. We talked about mission, objectives, what articles to include in their bylaws to strengthen and insure transparency and fairness. I even came up with “Holly’s 9 Leadership Tips”.
“One thing we are certain of is that this program will be beneficial not just to the farmers in East Africa, but also to the volunteers from America,” said Bruce White, CRS’ director for the program. “It’s going to make the world a little bit smaller for everyone involved.” I agree!
Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the five-year program matches the technical assistance of U.S. farmers, agribusinesses, cooperatives, and universities to help farmers in developing countries improve agricultural productivity, access new markets, and increase their incomes.
My volunteer assignment is one of nearly 500 assignments that focus on agriculture, food security and nutrition in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. This is the first time CRS has been involved in the 28-year-old Farmer-to-Farmer Program funded by the U.S. government. The U.S. volunteers travel to East Africa for anywhere from one to six weeks, their expenses covered by USAID.
One of the things that I like about the WordPress platform is the statistics that it provides for me to see who is reading my blog. I love stats: if you can measure it, then you can make it better.
Kind of like I like our ISO certifications at Williams & Heintz Map Corp. The processes make us keep track and measure everything:
- We are ISO 9001 certified for “Cartographic Production, Large Form Cartographic Printing and Specialized Map Folding” to provide better product with greater consistency and quality.
- We are ISO14001 certified; we have developed, and maintain an environmental management system to continually improve our environmental performance. The processes and materials that we use to create quality maps and charts are continually monitored to reduce our environmental footprint and to decrease the pollution and waste.
Anyway, about the WordPress stats, I can be pretty obsessive. I am pleased to see that WordPress now has a view by country panel. The best thing about this view is that it is in the form of a map! So far the MapPrinter blog has been viewed by people from 40 different countries. No views from Africa or China yet. How can I fix these big holes in my map?
UPDATE: One week after posting about Africa, tagging and using Africa in the title of the post, I now have views from 5 countries in Africa: Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, South Africa and Uganda! I even received a request for a map printing quote 🙂