Organization that sent the volunteer: Grameen Foundation
I was already aware of the impactful work that Farmer-to-Farmer is doing around the world, as I have previously done three in-person volunteer assignments. When I was contacted about doing a remote assignment, I knew it would be different but I was excited. I wasn’t sure exactly how the remote assignment would work, but I quickly realized that it was similar to other F2F assignments, only done via online platforms like Google Docs and Zoom.
My assignment was on the topic of “Designing Agricultural Capacity Building Curriculum”, which was part of The Capacity-building of the Coconut Subsector (COCOS) Program, which “aims to improve the productivity, profitability and resilience of smallholder farmers (SHF) and entrepreneurs in the Philippines’ coconut subsector through increased adoption of optimal agricultural practices and technologies (including climate-smart farming practices and diversification strategies) as well as increased access to financial services and market opportunities”. I have been working with the host Ahon sa Hirap’s (ASHI) over the past several weeks.
Once we got into our weekly meeting routine, I found working with ASHI to be easy. We shared a similar vision of the outcome of the assignment. Together, we developed an agricultural curriculum for the branch managers and development officers to use in the fields to train coconut farmers. We also developed tools to update the curriculum as needed, based on the needs of the farmers, so that this project remains relevant after my volunteer assignment is over. The purpose was not only to design a training curriculum, but more importantly to give the development officers the tools they needed to be confident in training the farmers and developing their own curriculum.
Although I would have loved to travel to the Philippines, I found the remote assignment to be very rewarding. I was able to have a glimpse into Filipino culture and found that Filipino people are warm, friendly, and welcoming. What I liked best about the assignment was how mindful both Grameen Foundation and ASHI were about the long-term sustainability of the projects, and how each F2F volunteer assignment builds off the work done by previous volunteers. My work with ASHI may have lasted only a few weeks, but I know that the impacts of my project will be felt for more time to come.