How does this training compare to others you previously had?
Malick: This training goes beyond the basic teachings of other trainings that focus purely on technical operational aspects, such as how to achieve organic production. From these trainings, we have the scientific and technical bases to carry out and develop an organic production project that invites others to join.
Hamidou: Much as I am self-taught in agroecology since 2015, I have undergone many local, national and regional meetings on agroecology and organic farming. I actually used the various documents on IFOAM – Organics International’s website to understand the international stakes and challenges of organic agriculture. I am always looking forward to improving my knowledge, for instance, with this ToToT, so as to contribute maximumly to the agro-ecological transition in Mali.
What effect has TOTOT had on you?
Malick: We see ToToT as a logical extension of the expertise we already had. In fact, in addition to our basic technical reference, we have enormously strengthened our capacity as a trainer and certainly better positioned ourselves as a company specialised in training and supervision of organic and ecological agriculture projects. We have totally appropriated the approach and methodology of facilitating training and thanks to the knowledge platform and the capitalisation of the different group exercises, we believe we are sufficiently equipped to fully fulfil our role as an actor of change in the community for not only the intensification of knowledge in organic and ecological agriculture but also to promote the consumption of organic products.
Hamidou: After this training, I am ready to take up the challenge of training more than 200 volunteers using the Malian Association for Solidarity and Development (AMSD) in agro-ecology and organic agriculture as agents of change to accompany this dynamic transition. I have to add that the facilitators were brilliant! Mr. Famara Diédhiou is an ace communicator! With him we did not only receive “training of trainers” modules, but also verbal and non-verbal communication techniques, including becoming a very good speaker and managing his time as a trainer. Personally, I have a lot of respect for his leadership and his way of transmitting with humility and wisdom. Mr. René Emmenegger, IFOAM – Organics International’s focal point was very resourceful too! The modules were all as important as the others, we received practical cases as we also shared experiences received. Being almost the only Malian during this training, it was a great pleasure to honor Mali in such an indispensable initiative for the promotion of agroecology in Africa.
How do you think you can apply what you have learned in the workshop in your community?
Malick: The ToToT enrichment allowed us to contextualize a program that we guided on several levels and in a hybrid setting of both virtual and physical form. We have targeted farmers’ organizations and socially responsible development structures of agriculture to plan with them a partnership. Ditto with organic input marketing companies through a win-win collaboration where their product will be used in our activities or programs. We also sent a letter to all the communes of the Thiès region in order to have free spaces of their land to host green economy projects with as a base: the production of organic vegetables, the sale of compost, plants and other green services.
Hamidou: This TOTOT training has had a very positive effect on my medium and long term commitment, and readiness to promote agroecology in my country. The most beneficial modules for me were on: preparing a presentation, facilitation methodologies, digital knowledge platform, planning and budgeting, and value chain. With this new knowledge, the transmission of acquired knowledge will be even better and easier. On the value chain, I was more inspired by the role West Africa plays in supplying organic products and valorization of raw material like cashew, karate, sesame etc. We already know how we should prepare ourselves to make our countries benefit from the global supply and demand.
Why is organic important to you?
Malick: Through organic agriculture, producers will do away with chemicals and thus preserve the health of the environment (biodiversity, water, soil and air), as well as our own. All this translates into creating a more favorable future for our descendants.
Hamidou: It is a concept that respects human values, takes care of the health of consumers and protects the environment. That is why organic and ecological agriculture is one of the pillars of AMSD. Our ambition is to make sustainable agriculture sensitive to nutrition (pregnant women, children, youth and vulnerable people) and also for seed empowerment on a peasant scale, creating green jobs for youth. I know we can impact our livelihoods, health and increase food security through organic, and that is why it is important!
Do you have a message for consumers on how to support and promote organic?
Malick: Yes, it is now clear that nutrition is an integral part of health, so I urge consumers to demand to know the origin of what they are consuming. Conventional products grown with synthetic harmful inputs, something we cannot see with our naked eye when on the shelf. If we are not able to produce our own organic products, we can still buy safely grown food by looking for that organic certified label.
Hamidou: Consumers should be more critical of how what they consume is produced and the impact it can have on their health and environment. Organic agriculture respects natural balances and puts farmers back at the heart of the production system, an agricultural model that can maintain a living rural fabric and ensure the food sovereignty of territories.
The ToToTs are conducted as part of the Knowledge Centre for Organic Agriculture in Africa (KCOA) in partnership with the National Federation for Organic Agriculture (FENAB). These trainings aim to address Capacity Development Processes for Ecological Organic Agriculture in Africa at Continental and National Level.The Knowledge Centre for Organic Agriculture in Africa (KCOA) project, of which ToToT is a part of, is funded by GIZ and implemented through IFOAM – Organics International’s training program: The Organic Academy in partnership with FENAB in Senegal.