Thursday, September 08, 2016
When John joined his local Rotary Club in Colorado they were looking for a bold international project to call their own. When John described Farmers of the Future and its goal of lifting millions of subsistence farmers out of poverty, naturally, they were excited by the challenge. The Rotary Club of Carbondale recently approved its third grant to support the expansion of Farmers of the Future. Thanks to the Rotary Club of Carbondale and their leadership in enlisting support from other clubs and from The Rotary Foundation, Rotary has now provided over $130,000 for the Farmers of the Future program.
This latest grant is particularly exciting. We’ve been refining the Farmers of the Future concept for 5 years in a handful of villages in Niger. These pilot villages have not only been a great source of learning, they’ve also become our best vehicle to build awareness and support. We’ve had a parade of visitors over the years: government officials from Niger and neighboring countries; members of international development organizations like USAID, USADF, and the World Food Program to name just a few; agricultural specialists; academics; and more. And the universal reaction is “WOW!” They’re blown away by the progress and especially by the knowledge and commitment displayed by our women farmers.
Last year we decided to create a 5th site, a place to showcase the expertise and best practices we’ve cultivated from the pilot phase. It’s called the Leadership Academy Garden. It will be twice the size of any existing garden. The size of women’s plots will also double - as will their potential to earn sustainable income. The new site, funded entirely by Rotary, is underway and the initial crop should be ready for planting in October.