In just three years, the volume of milk sold by farmers in the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project increased by 102 percent thanks to the help of volunteer farmer trainers (VFTs). In a recent article from The Guardian, these VFTs were highlighted as an important factor in the success of the EADD project.
The EADD project began in 2008 with a $42.8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, operating in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. The program sought to boost milk yields and the incomes of small-scale farmers in Africa to help lift them out of hunger and poverty. The project has since entered a second phase and expanded to Tanzania.
Now thousands of farmers are being helped every year with the help of VFTs who, according to the article, “are initially trained in feed and feeding systems…and they then train fellow farmers in their immediate community, usually other members of a dairy group.”
The community chooses the criteria, helping to select the VFTs. These volunteer farmers are usually dairy farmers who strive to help others.
The importance of small-scale farmers is becoming more and more apparent, and the emergence of VFTs is helping to not only improve projects like EADD, but to improve the individual lives of farmers across the globe.
The EADD project and others like it show Heifer’s dedication to community development. Heifer endeavors to empower participants to help themselves and make a sustainable impact on their communities. This leads to community-wide and eventually world-wide transformation.