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Hi Quisito Bastos Gimo Gimo Thanks for the recommendation. We actually expect avocados to represent approximately 10% of our yields by weight this year -- 1/3 will be various herbs and 1/3 chilies. We 100% agree with you that starting initially with only avocados would be challenging which is why we work with farmers to grow a broad range of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. As far as the avocado trees go, we are working with farmers that planted trees several years ago, so many of the trees have been fruiting for a year or two at this point.

As far as our core business, I appreciate your feedback, but we already very much see our core business as the buying and selling our organic produce. Our farmer service centers with the nursery, packhouse, and coldstore are, however, critical to ensuring regular supply of inputs and good quality for exporting.

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?

Expert Feedback Question 6.

Chioma Ume  asked "How will you train farmers and officers at scale? How do you guarantee that each officer overseeing a farmer is always providing the right quality? Is there self-documentation or oversight?"

Our response:
We train farmers with on-farm, in-person visits every 14 days. Once every two months, we also coordinate a neighborhood meeting of 3-5 farmers that live near each other to share information between one another in a structured way. Our current model calls for a team of 2 training officers to support 33 farms. Given the economics of our business, we could adjust this for a team to support 25 farms if needed.

To better understand how farmers are progressing in their adoption of new techniques and to guide the farmer training, we have developed a farmer scoring rubric/curriculum that is both digital and paper-based. Modules in this curriculum include: Crop Maintenance, Inputs/Output, Pest Management, Soil Fertility, and Permaculture Practices.

We leave the hard-copy with the farmer so that they have a record of our visit and documentation on how they are performing over time. Our farmer training officers also enter this data digitally so that we can track farmer performance centrally and evaluate which Training Officers are performing best.

Our officers receive significant on-the-job training, and they are paired with an existing staff member for at least one month before they are assigned direct responsibility for any farmers. We additionally have written materials that are reviewed with each training officer who we hire.

Christina Zawerucha, the lead of our Agronomy and Farmer Training Team, has experience as a high school and university-level educator in addition to her time running permaculture farms in the United States. This experience is invaluable as we develop our staff training programs, and she also visits each farm once a month to validate that the reports from the Farmer Training Officers are accurate.

Finally, as a fruit and vegetable company, we conduct quality checks on all the produce that we sell. To ensure organic compliance, a GreenPath staff member is present whenever farmers harvest, and they are providing guidance at that point. Afterwards, a separate team reviews the product at our Farmer Service Center to sort the produce and ensure that everything that we ship meets our export standards. With a focus on continual improvement, we track the rejection rate at each stage of the process so we can give feedback to our staff that oversee harvesting.