It is a bittersweet post today, as we wrap up 5+ years of inspiring and impactful work with Farmer-to-Farmer in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Myanmar. In these five years, Winrock volunteers have completed 313 volunteer trips and donated over 6,300 days of time to train and assist 19,184 farmers, teachers, extension agents, entrepreneurs, and youth. This work has resulted in new and improved training and degree programs, increased access to nutritious foods, improved livelihoods, and stronger agriculture sector leaders. And it has built bridges and lasting relationships across borders.
I have seen and heard the impacts on the ground myself, during site visits and focus groups over the last several years. I met livestock farmers in Bangladesh who improved their animal husbandry practices and are now earning more income – which helps them feed their families. I talked with teachers at schools in Bangladesh and Nepal who are newly empowered and now implementing improved pedagogical techniques in their classrooms, to better motivate and prepare students for careers in the agriculture sector. I listened to the aspirations of women and youth in Bangladesh and Myanmar who are now starting new businesses after participating in Farmer-to-Farmer training. And I sat in the homes of Myanmar farmers who are proud to have started to grow – and in some cases, export – high quality agricultural products, previously unaware of the income generating potential of these crops. In all cases, those who participated in Farmer-to-Farmer training have become leaders within their organizations and communities and are sharing information with others. Likewise, I continue to hear how the American volunteers continue to stay in touch with their host organizations and take their Asia Farmer-to-Farmer experiences back to their jobs, community work, and families. Both sides are forever changed, and the ripple effect – on both continents – continues to grow.
Winrock’s Asia Farmer-to-Farmer team has worked tirelessly over the last five years to identify on-the-ground needs, design and implement volunteer assignments, and ensure that our volunteers are well equipped and safe throughout the duration of their work in country. Over the years, we have shared many memories with our staff and volunteers and will truly miss implementing the program in this beautiful region of the world.
We are so grateful to our Asia F2F field staff and to all of our wonderful Asia F2F volunteers! Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for all that you have done and all that we know you will continue to do. It has been a pleasure and an honor to work together.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead
We will miss these smiling faces!