U of I to provide volunteers to train farmers in Africa

November 11, 2013
Family threshing in field in Ethiopia

URBANA, Ill. - Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is partnering with the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and four other institutions on a program to conduct a USAID Farmer-to-Farmer program that connects farmers in the United States with other farmers in the East African nations of Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda for training and technical assistance.

“Catholic Relief Services will work with grassroots organizations to identify specific farmers in their East Africa Region to assess their needs,” said Rolin Oliver Ferguson, international program coordinator in ACES. “Our role will be to help locate knowledgeable volunteers who will travel to Africa and provide training.”

Ferguson said that the volunteers may be individuals, growers, and producers with specific expertise, Master Gardeners, and U of I Extension personnel.

The CRS Farmer-to-Farmer program proposes to place over 300 volunteers to conduct 500 volunteer assignments over a five-year period. “We have many talented people in Illinois and affiliated with the university who might be willing to contribute and provide training in agriculture, food security, or nutrition,” Ferguson said. The volunteers would travel to East Africa with their expenses for two to three weeks covered by the project.

“The program will use the expertise of U.S. Catholics and non-Catholics to help the impoverished communities we serve in this part of Africa,” said Bruce White, director for the CRS program. White said that 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 other four institutions that are involved with the partnership are the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, Foods Resource Bank, National Association of Agricultural Educators, and American Agri-Women.

For more information or to learn more about volunteering for the program, contact Ferguson at 217-300-0203 or send an email to ofergus@illinois.edu.



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