Name: Felicia Bell
Current title/profession: Agriculture Specialist with the National Association for Appropriate Technologies
Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer West Africa
Location of the project: Ghana
Organization that sent the volunteer: Winrock International
The Winrock F2F team first met Felicia Bell at the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference in Little Rock, AR in January 2019. A colleague from Winrock’s Wallace Center told us we just had to meet Felicia, who is a part of RD&S Farm in Brandon, MS, where she focuses on natural farming practices and provides sustainable agriculture and small agribusiness consulting services to farmers and business owners in the area. She’s also involved with The African Shea Trees Parkland Mississippi Micro Coop, which purchases shea butter and black soap materials from women farmer groups in Africa, and then creates value-added products for humans and animals. Ms. Bell’s 9-to-5 is with the National Association for Appropriate Technologies as an Agriculture Specialist. Our colleague was spot-on: this woman sounded like an excellent F2F volunteer!
In March 2019, Felicia was on the ground in Accra, Ghana working with Wenchi and Tain Federation Groups (WTFG) to lead training for 114 members on small business management and marketing. In preparation for her trip, she gathered relevant publications, manuals, templates and diagrams to share with her host, but she focused largely on listening to needs and challenges once she was face-to-face with the men and women of WTFG. Some of Felicia’s key activities included providing practical simple budget and profit and loss statement overviews; explaining requirements of a marketing strategy and tailoring to fit small farmer groups; sharing information on ways to improve crop production and quality to ensure successful farming as a business; and providing templates and tools for business management and record keeping.
"The farmers were very receptive to some of the marketing and supplier ideas offered to them. The training objectives brought out examples from some of the farmers which made an impact on other farmer members to know that their community members understood some of these strategies and were using them presently, which assisted me on the continuation of sharing strategies and skills" - Felicia Bell
Felicia built strong relationships with host members during this three-week trip. Her flexibility and ability to meet these farmers where they were in terms of developing their businesses was key in establishing mutual trust and respect. A year and a half has passed, and Felicia is still in touch with her host. They chat through social media platforms and email and Felicia has shared links to videos, trainings, and materials online to continue her support. The host has requested her assistance through one of the new virtual volunteer opportunities, which is currently being developed. When asked how this work has impacted her, Felicia said, “It impacted me personally greatly since this was my first time to Ghana and Africa. I was honored to share my knowledge on the objectives to assist these farmers that have the know-how to grow and raise food.” Her message of empowerment and confidence in host members was well received.
"We always thought we could not do anything for ourselves without the support of others. But now we have learned to always start small and use the local materials we have available to get what we want" - Dorney Augustine, Secretary of the Federation
Felicia Bell is an inspiring volunteer who leads with humility and an open mind. The Farmer-to-Farmer program is fortunate to have her as a volunteer expert.
Written by Winrock International