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Serving: MN

Farmer-to-Farmer program seeks virtual U.S. volunteers

TAGS: Education
Photos courtesy of Lani Jordan Lani Jordan with participants of the Farmer-to-Farmer program
FARM AMBASSADOR PROGRAM: Lani Jordan of St. Paul, Minn. (left, second row, in blue print dress), is a volunteer with Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture’s Farmer-to-Farmer program. In August 2017, she worked on strategic planning with farmers of Chandawe Cooperative of Malawi. CNFA is currently looking for volunteers to assist with its virtual program.
The pandemic has limited overseas travel but not the effort to offer agricultural expertise.

Ever considered volunteering and sharing your farming expertise with people in other countries?

If so, you might want this on your radar. The Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program, implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), is recruiting new volunteers for future assignments.

The F2F program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, sends volunteer experts on overseas technical assignments to provide hands-on training to communities, cooperatives, agribusinesses and educational institutions.

CNFA-implemented F2F projects are currently active in Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Moldova. Due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, however, U.S. volunteers are working virtually with people in host countries.

Lani Jordan, a St. Paul, Minn., communications consultant, completed four F2F pre-COVID-19 overseas assignments. Her favorite? Helping MOVCA, a Moldova organic cooperative, in 2019 with its preparation for Biofach, the world’s largest organic trade show.

Lani Jordan talking to farmerMORE THAN FARMING: Lani Jordan (left), a communications consultant and F2F volunteer, worked with Ghanaian vegetable growers like this man on food traceability efforts in June 2018.

“All of my F2F assignments are memorable, but the most unique was working with MOVCA over a period of 2.5 months,” she says. “I provided remote support and counsel for six weeks, helped with final preparations the week before and then joined them in Nuremburg [Germany] for the show, where we had great results promotion Moldova’s growing organic sector.”

Now Jordan is serving in CNFA’s ambassador program to help bolster volunteer involvement. In particular, she aims to tap into her connections in U.S. cooperative organizations and agricultural university programs to help recruit volunteers.

Be a virtual volunteer

Farmers may find the current volunteer program workable since it is conducted virtually. With in-person assignments, a volunteer might spend two to four weeks in the host country. The current virtual assignments are conducted a few hours at a time via virtual meetings with a local paired volunteer, Jordan says.

“In these hours, the two volunteers work together to design trainings and if the internet connection permits, they may conduct some trainings together,” she says. These assignments last for two to four weeks as well, but some could last longer since they are virtual.

Jordan encourages anyone with ag-related skills to consider volunteering for F2F. Farmers, agronomists, horticulturalists, aquaculture specialists, veterinarians, communications professionals and experts in finance, business and management are welcome to apply.

The F2F program is ongoing, so there is no deadline to sign up. Volunteers may express their interest by emailing F2Frecruitment@cnfa.org. Also, check out CNFA’s website Volunteer with Farmer-to-Farmer | CNFA for more information.

Jordan has found it deeply rewarding to use her professional experience to support farmers and organizations in the countries where she has worked. She likes to share that fact with potential volunteers.

“You will experience many new things. Sometimes you will be nervous,” she advises them. “But you will be in good hands, meet amazing people and do very meaningful work. You will leave your first assignment a richer person.”

Jordan is available for presentations — virtual or in person — as well as one-on-one conversations about the program. Contact her at lani@lanijordan.com.

 

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