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TECH FARMERS - Revolutionizing farming through Information Technology, Permaculture and Value addition chain

Our solution combines Information Technology, Permaculture and value addition chain to build a critical mass of small-scale farmers

Photo of Michael Ahabwe Mugerwa

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Our idea combines Information Technology, permaculture and value addition chain into a single 'three-dimension model' that will build a critical mass of small-scale farmers able to regenerate their ecosystems and build self-sustaining communities. We have partnered with over 360 farmers groups since 2008, we are building on our experience, our idea will train 150,000 small-scale farmers every year over the next 4 years. Permaculture will train farmers to build increasingly self-sufficient food production system and regenerate the ecosystems; Value addition chain will nurture business skills and improve farmers incomes while Information Technology will connect farmers to information such as markets, prices, pest control methods and weather patterns that is important to improve their production, lives and communities. Our idea was born from the insight that interventions targeting small-scale farmers require aggregation of activities to create lasting impact. Farming shapes identify and livelihoods of small-scale farmers, we have designed our idea to include activities that will create long-lasting impact, empower small-scale farmers to move their communities forward. We have a clear roll-out plan and a sustainability plan and we will ensure that our idea serves as a critical capacity-building tool for farming communities. To do this, we need funds to roll out our idea to 500,000 farmers by 2020 and we want to build partnerships to maximize impact.

WHO BENEFITS?

150,000 farmers who are all members of small-scale farmers groups will be the direct recipients of the proposed idea. We will work with coffee farmers, fruit farmers, corn (maize) farmers, and banana farmers to support learning, innovation, skills transfer, improved incomes and bring new opportunities to farming communities. Local communities will also indirectly benefit in the following ways; Improved access to pertinent information regarding agriculture, markets and value addition chain

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

The idea will be implemented in 5 districts of Uganda. Each district will focus on a single project component during the first year and switch to other components in the second and third years. E.g start with IT, then permaculture then value addition

ARE YOU IMPLEMENTING IN AN ELIGIBLE COUNTRY?

  • Yes

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU!

Founded in February 2008, ICOD Action Network has a team with diverse expertise and experience. Our work extends beyond material support and touches the need to empower communities so that they can support themselves. We are an extremely cost­-effective, we ensure all funds benefit communities

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

Our idea is not new to our organization, we have been training farmers in Information Technology, Permaculture since 2008, benefiting over 80,000 farmers. In 2015 alone, funding from Vancouver based Lush Manufacturing supported training of 7621 farmers. We have learned valuable lessons along the way which have informed the development and improvement of our current model to create sustainable impact . Our proposed idea is different from our previous projects because it will not only strengthen Information Technology and Permaculture training for small-scale farmers but also work with farmers in a value addition chain. Farmers will be trained in processes that support production of juices, chicken feed, art pieces, Hay, biogas and charcoal briquettes. We will ensure 100% utilisation of unconsumed, unmarketed and farm organic material. Our team will work with farmers to design their training packages and select preferred enterprises based on their needs, cost of production and impact. One of our most successful models at ICOD Action Network has been the Partnerships Model, we hope this platform will help build more collaborations. Our contact - nationaloffice@icodan.org

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

We have previously built partnerships with farmers and used community organization to improve lives of farmers. We are building on this! Our idea is unique because it will ensure 100% utilisation of unconsumed, unmarketed and farm organic material. Our idea will improve livelihoods of small-scale farmers and reduce food wastage. We already have data on the numbers of smallholder farmers who will benefit, and being a cost-effective organisation, we will ensure that every single dollar we receive impacts lives of small-scale farmers and their families. After almost a decade of working with small-scale farmers, we have come to realize that farmers have the capacity to change their lives, families and communities if they receive better suited tools, services and training. We believe that the idea we have proposed here best suits millions of small-scale farmers across Africa. We have a team with diverse expertise working in food security, Information Technology and value addition chain. At local level we will work with leaders, farmers, and we also have a strong network of community based volunteers to ensure the project activities are effectively and sustainably implemented.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

ICOD Action Network, a registered non-profit in Uganda will implement the idea. Founded in February 2008, ICOD Action Network runs two regional programs in Northeastern Uganda and Southwestern Uganda and we have our National Office in Uganda’s capital Kampala. We have a fully functional solar-powered training center, equipment, offices, manuals, full-time staff and volunteers to fully implement the proposed idea. All we need is a 'little push' so that we an train 150,000 farmers every year.

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

Our idea has been applauded for its uniqueness! Flavia Karugasha, a local farmer in Uganda, wrote the following concerning the need for this kind of project:
“…. we lack information on market prices, pests and disease control, as well as training on appropriate farming methods—all of which limit our agricultural productivity … I believe that improving our access to information technology and training would bring more productivity to our villages and improve our incomes.” To fit the needs of farmers like Flavia, our proposed idea will also build up competence, transfer experience, improve partnerships and develop good practices among small-scale farmers in their communities and across the country. Beneficiary feedback strengthened our understanding that farming communities better understand solutions that can transform them. We worked with our Board and consulted farmers groups representatives who recommended increasing the number of beneficiaries from 33,000 to 150,000 every year. Our Board which is partly drawn from farming communities and farmers representatives have always provided us the best feedback since 2008. That's why we strongly value their input in this idea.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

One of the unanswered questions is how we will integrate financial services for small-scale farmers over the next 5 to 10 years. Smallholder farmers experience lumpy cash flows due to the seasonal nature of their work. Because of this, smallholder farmers require financial products that fit in their livelihoods. We have not included financial services in this idea, but it’s one important aspect we will consider in future.

WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?

In Rural Uganda, small-scale farmers do not have access to Information Technology, permaculture and value addition chain training that can improve their livelihoods. We have continued to scale out our food security program since 2008 because no other organizations are focused on these interlinked components (Information Technology, permaculture and value addition). Our idea bridges production and value addition, connects farmers with the right information and regenerates ecosystems which will improve livelihoods of small-scale farmers. The under performance of corruption-ridden government agriculture programs makes our idea a vital project for small-scale farmers in Uganda.

WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?

Our ultimate goal is to train 150,000 small-scale farmers every year to promote self-sufficient food production, reduce produce wastage and build self-sustaining farming communities. Information Technology will help connect farmers with markets, farmers will be able to build increasingly self-sufficient food production system, regenerate the ecosystems and value addition chain will improve their livelihoods. Our idea contributes to our overall goal of serving 500,000 farmers by 2020.

MEMBERS OF MY TEAM HAVE BEEN WORKING TOGETHER FOR:

  • More than a year

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within 50 km of where our team does most of its work

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • Between $100,000 and $500,000

Access to current and relevant information in today’s competitive world is imperative for individual, as well
 as community growth and development. Today, in rural Uganda, small scale farmers do not have easy access to information that could drastically change their lives.

Since June 2008, ICOD Action Network has partnered with Agricultural Co-ops of smallholder farmers in Uganda.  We have also partnered with farmers groups  in an information-sharing program that provides instruction in Information Technology to elected “information agents” from each group. The agents use their training to retrieve relevant information (focused on, but not limited, to agriculture - such as market access and prices, disease and pest control methods, weather patterns, etc) from our solar powered internet facility to be posted in their respective villages for their communities to access at large. Information Agents search for information requested by their communities, repackage in their local languages and post in  their communities. Our team also repackages information about  weather patterns, crop health, farming techniques et.c. into illustrative videos that we use in our farm based training sessions.   weather, the health of their crops, farming techniques, market prices

We have been training farmers in Information Technology and permaculture  so that they can design their own environments and build increasingly self-­sufficient food production systems and regenerate the ecosystems that provide for their communities.

Image title

                                  Some of the farmers receive training at our center

Supported by hundreds of individual donors worldwide, Canady Foundation, Project Focus, Lush Manufacturing Ltd Vancouver our Information and Permaculture projects have benefited over 80,000 farmers since 2008. In 2015 alone, funding from Vancouver based Lush Manufacturing supported permaculture training of 7621 farmers in 2015 alone. 621 bunches of bananas, 270 avocado fruits were produced,  319 kilograms of Pineapples, 78 kilograms Passion fruits and 1.5 tonnes of Oranges  have so far been produced.

Because of several production and market hindrances, tonnes of farm produce goes to waste on farms, in storage, in transportation and in homes. This leaves small-scale farmers who produce millions of tonnes of food struggling to feed their families. Our proposed project will not only connect farmers with other farmers, link farmers to markets,  improve farmers innovations but also build capacity of farmers to produce food in an ecological manner and  utilize their produce and farm organic matter to benefit their families and communities.

We have a fully functional solar-powered internet facility for training, equipment, training manuals, full-time staff and volunteers to fully implement the proposed project. All we need is a little push; so that we an train 150,000 farmers  every year over the next three years and train thousands more over the next 10 years. 

Image title

Organic manure making DemonstrationOut Information Technology project combines  information  sharing among small scale farmers and  training  in areas that farmers need and believe can change their lives

Attachments (1)

One Pager - ICOD Action Network.pdf

Our one pager above briefly describes what we stand for, our 'action' networks and how we work to strengthen the movement for global action against extreme poverty, global hunger, disease and advocate for rights for all.

29 comments

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Photo of Yazmin
Team

Information Technology today is on a higher level, it can help businesses, companies etc. to gain more success and gain more efficiency. Its good that they will be revolutionizing it and integrate it with technology, this will help them to achieve more efficiency and gain more success. It would be great if they can find a good IT service that can help them with this project so that they will not spend more money.


Yazmin Barajas, Head Ops
Internet Marketing
Offshore Business Processing IT Solutions Outsourcing
http://www.offshorebusinessprocessing.com/it-solutions

Photo of Mary Johnson
Team

Here is another great organization using informal human rights based education on cell phones that is making really great progress for the empowerment of women in west Africa. Http://www.tosten.org. It seems like it could really be useful in your work , they have used it to help end female cutting, and grow the number of women in leadership among other noteable outcomes.  I've been learning so much from this process which also contributed to my own personal growth as a female business leader working for global change. There are so many fantastic projects happening in the world. This is a great chance to find out about ones that can improve a project. Good luck Michael.

Photo of Michael Ahabwe Mugerwa
Team

Thanks for the link Mary, I will follow up with them too. You know we love creating as many mutually supportive partnerships as we can!
Also, check out review of my book about Female Genital Mutilation on  BeMagazinie this weekend. I am in the final stages of having it published before the end of the year, most likely by  UK based publishing company.
Michael Ahabwe’s New Book “Tears of Resilience” Reveals the Realities of Female Genital Mutilation and Teaches Women How to Reclaim Their Bodies as a Source of Power and Significance -   http://www.bemagazine.org/michael-ahabwes-new-book-tears-resilience-reveals-realities-female-genital-mutilation-teaches-women-reclaim-bodies-source-power-significance/

Photo of Mary Johnson
Team

This TEDMED talk is really great too. From a farmer research project in Malawi, showing the way to end childhood stunting from malnutrition is through social technology for gender equality...tools for teaching men to cook, changing gender dynamics in the home for greater collaboration. http://www.generationfoodproject.org/raj-patels-ted-talk/

Photo of Mary Johnson
Team

I am in contact with the Ashoka Fellows who created this innovation called ekutir, you can google it, which has some similarities to yours, and that might be a good social enterprise component to add into your model.  Their current concern is that the information that their training app provides doesn't include enough information about agro-ecology, permaculture or sustainable farming practices.  I've also heard from a project in Rwanda - trying to do something similar to you - but without your idea of using the technology platform.  They are responding to the reality that extension is in reality virtually unavailable or irrelevant to small holder farmers.  In many areas like Rwanda, and Nigeria, the professional agronomists that are paid by the government - have a distain for the poor, and don't want to go out into the field to meet with them or help them solve their farming challenges, they also don't believe in organic or sustainable agriculture and don't have training in it - so if willing to teach, only promote commercial gmo and chemical agriculture.  I think your platform has much to offer the rural poor all around the world.

Photo of Michael Ahabwe Mugerwa
Team

Dear Mary,
Thank you so much for the wonderful feedback, it's extremely important and helpful.
I have also contacted the team at ekutir (through their website), for possible future collaboration on information sharing and program development, they are doing amazing work.
Regards,
Michael

Photo of Mary Johnson
Team

Also are you training farmers in biochar production for fertility? There are a couple of promising studies on fertility in African soils improving along with water holding capacity. Ghana one study founs, is one place where dark soils have been built up by villagers like in the terrapreta of the Amazon, for up to 700 years.

Photo of Mary Johnson
Team

There's also a very useful report from CIGAR called Why Gender Matters in Agriculture which has several points which I think would be very helpful for your trainers. One of which is understanding gender dynamics and supporting collaboration and cooperation among men and women has been shown to improve women's uptake of ag innovations and development actions. Otherwise benefits accrued by women tend to just be taken by the men who hold more power at the household level.

Photo of Mary Johnson
Team

Bio Innovation a group in Zimbabwe is doing some great work on commercialization of local plants, and they are linked with a cosmetics company called Kativia Botanicals. Adding these types of support for coops into your training might be very useful. Maybe you already do.

Photo of Mary Johnson
Team

This is developing really wonderfully. It has inspired my thinking and I am hopeful that together we can go even farther and find the resources to bring your great thinking to a number of other programs around the world. We look forward to helping you make this a reality and a very important contribution towards sequestering carbon and securing food access in our uncertain future.

Photo of Michael Ahabwe Mugerwa
Team

Thank you so much Mary, I am humbled by your feedback and support.
We are glad to be collaborating with  you and Terra Genesis International to make our food security projects more efficient and sustainable.

Photo of Mary Johnson
Team

As a collaborator with Michael, I'd like to also comment on the request for info regarding how the project will reach sustainability. At Terra Genesis International, we've begun working with corporations to help dispel the notion that sustainable is a reasonable expectation. Both because there is a monstrous unawknowledged debt accrued from hundreds of years of colonial extractive and abusive use of the resources and people from the majority world countries and because of that extractive economic model, another debt from externalized costs that fall more heavily on the people who now struggle for basic survival due to climate chaos that they never benefited from. We hope to work with Michael and other communities and projects like his to bring about some justice in the form of greater financial and other multicapital contributions based on the added benefits to the planet that small holder regenerative farmers are bringing.

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi Michael, 

The Amplify team and our experts have some feedback/questions for you:

Could you provide clear description on how you will roll out the project components and what are the essential elements? How do you envision the project reaching sustainability?

Using ICT to deliver information is pretty standard, and there are so many lessons to be learned on how to do that well and about the limitations of ICT for extension. What have you learned from other programs? 

What business model underpins this program? Who will pay for this service?

Looking forward to learning more!

Photo of Michael Ahabwe Mugerwa
Team

Dear Chioma Ume,
Thank you so much for the feedback and questions.
Do we put the answers (description) here in the comments section or we can get space in the questions above?
Thank you.
Michael

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi Michael,

I'm sorry for the delayed response! You can feel free to either answer the questions as a response to my message, or you can incorporate the answers into the relevant parts of your contribution form. If you decide to do that, please let me know if you feel there isn't enough room to finish your explanation.

Thanks!
c

Photo of Michael Ahabwe Mugerwa
Team

Dear Chioma, please see answers to questions from Amplify team and the experts. We have replied twice since all the three questions were more than the 5000 characters accepted in a reply. We would have loved to include the information in the  main questions above  but failed to because we had no extra space.

COULD YOU PROVIDE CLEAR DESCRIPTION ON HOW YOU WILL ROLL OUT THE PROJECT COMPONENTS AND WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS? HOW DO YOU ENVISION THE PROJECT REACHING SUSTAINABILITY?
Interventions targeting small-scale farmers require aggregation of activities to create lasting impact. Our idea has been designed to include activities that will create short and long-term impact and empower small-scale farmer to sustain these activities when the project funding reduces or phases out.
Some of these elements have been tested before with farming communities that we have worked before and have informed the improvement of this idea as we plan to reach out to thousands more farmers. In addition to the three major project components (Information Technology, Permaculture and Value Chain Addition), we have identified five essential elements that will help us roll out and sustainably implement the project;
1. We will facilitate enterprise selection by small-scale farmers based on good stable markets, skills, need, cost of production and the ability to build a mass of critical actors in communities. Giving farmers an opportunity to directly take part in enterprise selection, will indirectly build their conscious and capacity to take charge of their enterprises and sustain them.
2. Refining the idea independently per district based relevance, local needs and cost. Most farmers we will work have the same characteristics, refining the idea per district will support preparation of our cohort tracking system so that we can be able to measure and compare results across all cohorts in 5 district with each district making an independent cohort.
3. Financial literacy, and other business development support training such as preparation of business plans, records management and basic financial planning and management. Most farming groups have savings and credit schemes or rotating funds schemes but group members and leaders lack necessary financial management skills. This element will improve farmers financial planning and management since project components like value addition will generate incomes for farmers.
4. We will enhance partnerships and collaborations with other stakeholders and between farmers groups to support collective impact and skills transfers.
5. Engaging policy makers and regulators for flexibility of policies that constrain small-scale farmers access to regional markets.
The idea will be implemented in 5 districts of Uganda. Each district will focus on a single project component during the first year and switch to other components in the following years. For example, if District A starts with Permaculture in the first year, farmers will choose the next project component the following year. Our goal is to ensure that farmers focus on one component at a time before transitioning to another component.
Other important elements:
i) Accountability: We are committed to working in an open and responsible way that builds trust and creating long lasting impact. Our strong accounting systems will report to beneficiaries, communities and our funding partners.
ii) Quality control: We will ensure that our idea satisfactorily meets the needs of small-scale farmers and communities and no compromises shall be made in quality control.
iii) Learning: Our idea will continue to draw lessons and support learning from the communities who are thriving in the training, and working to solve their most pressing challenging.
The elements included above will ensure that we effectively implement the project and build the capacity of participating small-scale farmers to directly take part in sustaining the project.

Photo of Michael Ahabwe Mugerwa
Team

USING ICT TO DELIVER INFORMATION IS PRETTY STANDARD, AND THERE ARE SO MANY LESSONS TO BE LEARNED ON HOW TO DO THAT WELL AND ABOUT THE LIMITATIONS OF ICT FOR EXTENSION. WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM OTHER PROGRAMS?
- One of the lessons we have learned it that farming shapes identify and livelihoods of small-scale farmers. Introducing to them something new like ICT that will redefine who they are must be done with extra caution and patience for them to learn and adapt ICT. For example farmers must first understand how ICT increases production and improves livelihoods so that they can embrace it. Some of the ways we have been able to improve farmers understanding of the impact of ICT is through community training sessions and our monthly radio talk show on a local radio where farmers discuss the role of ICT and share their experience on how ICT has improved their production and lives. This has helped inspire more to embrace ICT in farming.

- We have also learned that ICT alone cannot bring about change in small-scale farmers, if not matched with other elements, like training and allocating resources to farmers. This is why our idea includes permaculture and value addition so that farmers can be able to make use of the ICT to improve their livelihoods and communities.

- However we have also discovered that farmers who supported their farming activities by making good use of our training, available information, knowledge, existing information systems at our center had increased their productivity.

Will continue to explore and develop ICT solutions and innovations that can compliment our overall food security program goals.

WHAT BUSINESS MODEL UNDERPINS THIS PROGRAM? WHO WILL PAY FOR THIS SERVICE?
The not-for-profit world has evolved over the years, non-profits can own businesses, make profits, but profits are always reinvested for social or organizational benefit, rather than being accumulated privately by individuals. We have always made adjustments to fit into the new non-profit order.

In 2010, together with our Chicago based partner organization, Project Focus and later with a 3 years grant from Canady Foundation, we developed and started implementing a model that sustains both our Information Technology and food security projects. The model includes a Business Model and Community Impact Model.
i) Business Model: The first development initiative was identified as opening of a solar-powered Internet Center that provides improved access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), nurtures technical skills, and serves as a critical capacity-building tool for farming communities.
We now own and operate an affordably priced public Internet cafe designed to increase access to ICT in the region, and to generate revenue to subsidize the Community Impact Model. Proceeds from the Internet Center are channeled by ICOD Action Network to support small-scale farmers food security projects. This is one of the ways we have been to sustain some of food security project activities when we have not received annual funds disbursements from our funding partners.
ii) Community Impact Model: We partner with Agricultural Co-ops in our food security projects, and since our Internet center has seen a steady increase in paid customers (business model), we will have an increased source of revenue to co-fund some of the project components.

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Thanks for this! Have you given thought to what specifically you'd like Amplify support with? Here are some examples of our past work with grantees: https://www.ideo.org/programs/amplify

Photo of Michael Ahabwe Mugerwa
Team

Thank you so much Chioma, the link has improved my understanding of how to tell  a better story and to be specific on what we want Amplify to help us with, we hadn't included this.  We are making the changes right now. I hope our answers above weren't very long for the team to read till the end
Regards,
Michael

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

You're welcome Michael! looking forward to reading the updates! 

Photo of GreenPath Team
Team

Hi @ahamitch It's great to see another organization here focusing on permaculture! For our company, we spend a lot of time thinking about which tangible permaculture practices are the best to introduce with smallholder farmers here in Ethiopia. Truly, permaculture is meant as a holistic system, but we focus on education and adoption of certain interventions. Right now for us, these include: double digging, composting, mulching, intensive intercropping, bonemeal, fish emulsion, and a focus on tree crops. 

What activities do you promote with your permaculture training?

Photo of marco mihambo
Team

Hello! Michael Mugerwa
Actually, you are doing a great job and your idea is one of the promising idea....But may please spent sometime to our work and recommend accordingly as far as your experience working with the community is concerned.

Photo of Michael Ahabwe Mugerwa
Team

Thank you Marco. I am going to check it out and give you feed back.
Greetings from Uganda

Photo of Mary
Team

This looks great.  How are your trainings addressing the need for charcoal?  A project I visited with in Haiti, was using timber bamboos to reforest and stabilize steep slopes.  It worked quite well.  Villagers were then learning to make furniture and housing from the timber size bamboo.  The clumping species of bamboo are not invasive like the running species.  The clumps mature within 3 years and are ready for sustainable harvest.  The International Network of Bamboo and Rattan has a wonderful set of training materials and examples of other great projects from around the world.  Some bamboo species are good for fodder, and others can be harvested for food when the shoots are young.  I thought that this kind of integration of bamboo into a permaculture project could solve the charcoal problem.  If communities planted and managed firewood "banks" with coppice firewood species, and with clumping bamboos, and then were to sustainably harvest from the banks - it would make charcoal abundant and readily available to all who needed it (if access was ensured and women were empowered to play a leadership role in distribution of the charcoal).  http://common-fund.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Projects/INBAR/INBAR_10FT/4.Bamboo_firewood_manual-Ghana-_r.pdf

Photo of Michael Ahabwe Mugerwa
Team

Thank you Mary!
We piloted making charcoal briquettes from carbonized organic waste. We worked with two farmers groups in 2014 to test how viable the project is and the results were very positive.  Farmer needed stuff like  food waste, banana peelings, maize cobs  and any organic matter which were then ground, pressed and dried. All materials needed to make briquettes are available in farmers households , nothing is bought.  You know briquettes burn longer  than ordinary charcoal and, they can sell the briquettes within their communities and get income to support their families.
Every farmer's family  will be keeping approximately 1,650 lbs (750 kg) of CO2 out of the atmosphere; that's why  we included this component in our idea.

Photo of Mary Johnson
Team

Can you tell us more about technology available in the area. I'm wondering if there might be a way to video the trainings you give and then send those videos home with the trainees on smartphones or tablets so they could replay them back in their village to help disseminate the skills they learn when they come to the village, along with the specific information they bring back. There are military grade devices that might stand up to the impacts and difficult conditions. So many great permaculture videos that could help people new to the concepts visualize and teach them when they got back to their village. Sunking solar lighting company makes a nice solar charger with a mall solar panel that can charge both the light and a cell phone.
I think your idea could use some more explanation in terms of more details of a specific community and the agents who came to learn. The video linked right now is a bit general so leaves questions for those of us who don't know your community. If you could make another video that shows a google earth image of the context of your farmers and then some on the ground videos with before and after shots from their village, that would help me better grasp how much they've learned and how much less food gets wasted. Or perhaps a portfolio of things they researched and then brought back to share with their village.  Great concept and approach. 

Photo of Michael Ahabwe Mugerwa
Team

Thank you Mary!
We definitely use videos in training. We have a portable video and projector that we use during community trainings.
We have used videos like A Farm for the Future,  Behind Greening the Desert, Garbage Warrior by Geoff Lawton. The videos like these have help raise farmers conscious and understanding permaculture.

Photo of Gregory Landua
Team

This is very inspiring! Can you tell us more about the information technology side of things?  Is this direct access to the internet, or an intranet system?  

Photo of Michael Ahabwe Mugerwa
Team

Thank you Gregory, this is how we do;
A group of small-holder farmers that we partner with elects their own members (We call them Information Agents) who they want to send to us for training (these are usually farmers and members of that group). Usually most groups send 4 - 6 members per month. We provide a bicycle to each group so that its members can ride to the training center four times a week for training. Our team works with these farmers to design their training module based on their needs and literacy levels.
Farmers are first trained in basic computer skills like Ms Word, Ms excel, browsing, printing, scanning and how to use the internet to connect with other farmers, search for information about markets or search for agriculture related information. After training, the Information Agents through our  community based training and their own farmers groups meeting, Information Agents lead the respective groups into discussions on the type of information they want from the internet; this can be information about market for the groups produce, local pest control methods, weather patterns etc. Information Agents will then use the bicycle that we gave to their group to come the center, search for  requested information from the internet, repackage it their local languages and post  in their communities to community wide sharing. It's upon this information, that we work with information agents to design permaculture training modules for each group based on their need.   See how these farmers used their training to make an organic Banana Bacterial Wilt formula-  http://www.icodan.org/flavia.html