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Over the past 10 years, CropLife International and its partners have worked in 82 countries to help train more than 3 million farmers and agricultural workers in the responsible and effective use of crop protection products. That number rises even higher when considering farmers reached indirectly by stewardship promotion and knowledge-sharing through communities. Stewardship training is a great success based on a simple strategy.
“The high volume of farmers reached is due to the ‘train-the trainer’ concept, where CropLife International trains master trainers, who in turn train the trainers on the ground, who then impart their knowledge to large groups of farmers,” notes Keith Jones, director of stewardship and sustainable agriculture for CropLife International. “This has an incredible exponential effect.” The train-the-trainer concept is used by CropLife International to deliver three training models: 1) Spray Service Provider (SSP), 2) Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and 3) partnership with a local implementing organization. An average of 80 stewardship programs are underway each year around the world.
Spray Service Provider
SSPs are professionally trained appliers of crop protection products who hire out their services to farmers and also help educate them on the importance of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and the responsible use of these products. SSPs are trained by master trainers who in turn have been trained by CropLife International experts.
The SSP model has been successfully used in several African countries, such as Madagascar – where almost 300 rice farmers have made use of SSP services, and Zambia – where 1,250 SSPs have helped almost 10,000 farmers. But the big leap forward came from West Africa, where CropLife Africa Middle East partnered with the World Cocoa Foundation and its African Cocoa Initiative to train SSPs in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. These are four of the largest cocoa producers in the world, but all had declining yields over recent years due largely to pests and diseases. The project trained more than 3,000 SSPs who can now reach more than 50,000 farmers every year.
Additional SSP projects are planned in Zambia for cotton, tomatoes and maize; Uganda for soybean, sunflower and potatoes; Malawi for cotton; and Ethiopia for vegetables.
Good Agricultural Practice
IPM and responsible use are at the core of the GAP training approach, usually resulting in farmer certification for exportation. This certification facilitates access to markets and includes self-checking to ensure that good practices are maintained. Requirements are normally defined by national or international standard-setting bodies, such as GLOBALG.A.P.
Depending on the size of the GAP program, either CropLife International master trainers train local trainers, who go on to train farmers (the preferred method), or CropLife International trainers directly train farmers. For other topic areas required for certification, such as social standards, other partners provide the training. For small-holder farmers, certification may be at the group level, which results in members of the group ensuring each conforms to the standards.
The model has been successfully used in Guatemala, for example, where 50 farmers who annually produce nearly 200,000 pounds (90 tons) of sugar snap peas have GAP training for GLOBALG.A.P. certification. This enables them to export the vegetable to lucrative markets.
The GAP model has also been effectively used in Honduras, where CropLife Latin America master trainers instructed 120 trainers from the U.S. Agency for International Development, who have now reached over 34,000 Honduran farmers. While this project did not include formal certification, farmers have used the training to produce high-value crops, such as strawberries and eggplants, and the high production standards have helped them connect with large supermarkets in major urban centers.
Partnership with Local Implementing Organization
This training model is based around a partnership with a regional organization that is familiar with local agriculture, culture, language and on-the-ground challenges. The partner’s staff are trained directly by CropLife International or regional CropLife master trainers (plus subject area specialists where needed), who also learn training skills so they can effectively train other farmers. Outreach to farmers is multifaceted so that information and messages are repeated in a variety of forms, including field demonstrations and learning by doing.
The model is based on CropLife International’s responsible use and secure storage project in and around Adoni, Andhra Pradesh, India. This involved a partnership between a local non-governmental organization (NGO) and CropLife International.
In order to maximize reach, the Adoni program also relied on farmer-to-farmer training where each directly trained farmer was asked to train four other farmers with the help of CropLife International guidelines and handouts. Crop protection product retailers were also included in the program to further support the training messages and build their business by sharing useful information. The Adoni project directly trained over 26,000 farmers, who then each trained four other farmers, totaling about 130,000 trainees.
“Depending on the region and challenges on the ground, we believe that that one of these three training models will deliver on our objectives to educate farmers on how to use crop protection products responsibly to increase their yields, income and standard of living,” says Jones.