Graduation from poverty is the goal of all our projects, and we help farmers adopt the practices that achieve this aim. They adopt practices that increase their productivity and they have more to sell. They also adopt practices that increase their product quality and value-added processing so they get a higher price.
We also help them reclaim and conserve the land and water upon which their farming depends. In addition, they adopt basic business practices and make better business decisions. We also have policies and activities which ensure that women participate equally in the technical assistance and benefits of our projects.
At the start of each dry, rainy, and harvest season, farmers select the practices they will adopt. We provide technical assistance in these practices throughout the season. At the end of the season they evaluate their results.
We use “learn-by-doing” to help farmers adopt the business and farming practices. Helping the farmers adopt better farming practices in their community on farm plots they select is much better than telling them what to do in a workshop.
We use three levels of staff to provide this twice-monthly technical assistance in each community: full-time field technicians; paid part-time skilled farmers, and volunteer community leaders. The field technicians lead the technical assistance in each community. Each one has two or three skilled farmers who work with him or her to follow-up the technical assistance. The community leaders coordinate and organize the technical assistance in their communities.
All staff speak the local language, and the majority of the technical assistance is provided in that language. The skilled farmers and community leaders stay in the area after the close of the project and help maintain and advance the practices farmers adopted and the increases in income they achieved.