Building the capacity of smallholder farmers is an important factor in raising their production and for securing sustainable employment within the agricultural sector. This is also being recognised within GIZ’s Employment Promotion Programme (EPP) in Sierra Leone, where AFC is responsible for implementing the agricultural value chains component. This is why AFC has partnered with GEFAK Gesellschaft für angewandte Kommunalforschung mbH to develop and implement an Integrated Farmers Training (IFT) programme in Sierra Leone.
The IFT programme is well received by farmers. It contains elements on how to improve their production (Farmer Field School, FFS), business knowledge (Farmer Business School, FBS) and attitude development (Famer Entrepreneurship Training, BUS). Over 40 carefully selected local facilitators are continuously being instructed, so that they can roll out the trainings to our farmers. We are planning to reach more than 11,000 farmers in this way, until the end of the EPP in 2020.
During implementation, we came to realise that we were filling a gap in Sierra Leone, since such an extension service for farmers didn’t exist yet in the country. This gives an opportunity to contribute to the wider agricultural development in the country, and also in terms of employment for the facilitators themselves. To capitalise upon this in a sustainable way, we support the facilitators in their endeavour to form their own company. This company will provide farmer training services to EPP, and eventually also to other clients, contributing in this way to the company’s sustainability.
After handing in the required documents to the appropriate government institutions, the facilitators’ company was registered on 12 May, under the name Rural Extension Services Limited (RES Ltd). The company has 21 shareholders and 5 board members, chosen between the facilitators themselves. And we are happy to announce that AFC signed its first contract with RES Ltd for the training of 3,122 cocoa and coffee farmers.
AFC and GEFAK will continue to accompany RES Ltd, ensuring that the company will be able to function sustainably as a reliable service provider, thus contributing to agricultural development and employment in Sierra Leone.