As a rural development advisor, I always look for opportunities to interact with different actors in my community, especially with farmers. I was very excited when I heard that I was selected to participate in the ToToT in Cameroon. This was an opportunity to learn more about how to communicate the benefits of organic farming better.
The ToToT is designed to support national teams of Lead Trainers, who will in turn train Rural Service Providers (RSPs) and change agents in strengthening ecological organic agriculture in Africa, in their respective regions and countries.
Between 2014 and 2016, I was a programme supervisor for farmer organisations, where I saw how farmers produced potatoes for human use using synthetic inputs. Later, these farmers and producers began to notice how the synthetic inputs were affecting the quality of their soil and agricultural output. One of the farmers I spoke with, Dan la Menoua, saw the soil’s continued loss of fertility and its impact on the farm’s once-thriving biodiversity.
This encouraged me to learn about alternative ways of farming and organic farming was my preferred way of encouraging sustainable food production. Now as a trainer in organic farming within the Groupement d’Appui pour le Développement Durable (GADD), my aim is to show the advantages of farming organically has on soil, biodiversity and our health. This involves me raising awareness amongst farmers on the risks of using synthetic inputs s and the benefits of organic food amongst consumers.
However, even with this amount of knowledge and experience that I have accumulated, there is so much more learnt at the ToToT that I can definitely include in my work. For instance;
- I experienced the importance of having open spaces for knowledge exchange
- Creative ways of training, for example, using the concept of World Cafes, animation techniques, among others
- Organising excursions to farms and processing plants to have firsthand information and discussions with anyone involved in the food supply chain such as farmers.
Having organisations like IFOAM – Organics International recognise the need to equip local residents with the skills and information they need to enhance food systems in their particular communities makes a real difference. I greatly appreciated the training facilitators from GADD, IFOAM – Organics International, and Centre Polyvalent de Formation (CPF), who helped us identify the mistakes we frequently make and, more significantly, taught us how to think quickly and effectively to fix them.
I am confident that the next time I am conducting a training session on organic agriculture, it will have elements of the techniques I learnt. The thought of that alone makes me feel empowered as I look forward to those training sessions I will conduct.
The training in Cameroon was held in French and delivered by Hervé Bouagnimbeck on behalf of GADD, with the support of Patricia Flores and Francia Berger from IFOAM – Organics International, and a team from CPF. The ToToT aims to give lead trainers the necessary knowledge and practical skills to not only train RSPs but also inspire and motivate them to share and disseminate their knowledge as well as skills.