ACCRA, GHANA, Sept. 17, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The West Africa Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program hosted a learning event on September 12, 2013, in Accra to highlight the last five years of program achievements in Ghana. F2F provides short-term technical agricultural assistance at the grassroots level to help boost farmers' productivity and income.
Titled "Strategies for Achieving Broad-based Growth through Volunteer Technical Assistance," the event brought together U.S. volunteers, Ghanaian host organizations, and representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Ghanaian Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and private industry to share ideas and experience on volunteerism and agricultural growth in a roundtable discussion.
A History of Success
"ACDI/VOCA is proud to be the first implementer of Farmer-to-Farmer [in 1986]", said ACDI/VOCA Program Manager Olaf Kula at the event. He continued, "We have sent over 10,000 volunteers abroad. Our programs have reached nearly 20,000 beneficiaries in West Africa alone in the last five years."
F2F West Africa is a five-year USAID-funded program implemented by ACDI/VOCA in Ghana and Liberia. F2F sends volunteer experts to local agricultural organizations to respond to needs in developing and transitional countries. In addition to their expertise, volunteers bring the democratic, free-enterprise values of Americans to their hosts and gain insights into the communities they help.
"At the end of the day success happens at an individual and organizational level," said Brian Conklin of USAID/Ghana. "I want to congratulate ACDI/VOCA on a fantastic five years of the program." Brian Conklin went on to announce that USAID will support an additional phase of West Africa F2F in Ghana. "The new program will build on the success of the current program," he said.
Improving Market Systems, Benefitting Smallholder Farmers
ACDI/VOCA's F2F program works to improve the effectiveness of agricultural market systems. The program targets smallholder farmers who learn production and farm management techniques to increase their yields and reduce costs. Hussein Muhib of Khama Farms recounted that a business plan a volunteer developed for the farm allowed him to receive a loan and expand operations from two communities to 10. "The volunteers did marvelous work for us" said Hussein Muhib, "and we benefited a lot from them." He continued, "Instead of harvesting 2-3 bags per acre, me and my farmers can now harvest 7-8 bags per acre."
ACDI/VOCA Celebrates 50 Years of Development Work
This year ACDI/VOCA is celebrating 50 years of empowering people to succeed in the global economy. Founded by U.S. farmer cooperatives to build local capacity and create sustainable economic growth, ACDI/VOCA has fostered broad-based economic growth, raised living standards and created vibrant communities in 146 countries.
ACDI/VOCA currently implements 78 projects in 35 countries on behalf of public, private and multilateral funders. ACDI/VOCA has been an F2F implementer since the program was first piloted in 1986. It is a leader in the use of expert volunteers in international development work and has placed them in over 130 countries. Volunteers advise local farmers on technology transfer, quality control, product diversity, business strategy and human resources management, and they help improve the quality and viability of agricultural-support and financial institutions, which provide much-needed resources to the agricultural sector.