John Deere is bringing agricultural training to thousands of small-holder farmers with their new pilot mobile education unit. According to Geoff Andersen, director, Global Citizenship and Strategic Planning with John Deere, who I spoke with this morning during the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa, the unit was first used in Ghana and Kenya to help more than 60,000 farmers learn how to increase productivity. Andersen was in country to work with the farmers and he said the program was a huge success and TechnoServe has been a great partner.
Rather than displace farmers to get training, the mobile unit was designed to take the training to them, to their farms, the fields and their communities. Andersen said they have really seen tremendous improvement in how farmers grow their crops and sell them at a higher price and reduce post-harvest lost. On average, farmers have increased their income up to two-fold in a matter of a couple of years.
They also supplement the grants with demonstration plots and provided equipment to TechnoServe to do demo plots right in these communities. This enables farmers to see right there how what they are getting trained on really works in their own fields.
Andersen said John Deere plans to expand the program and they appreciate any support that can be offered by other companies, governmental organizations and NGOs. He noted that there are other companies doing similar small-scale programs but to meet goals, they need to do more. “I really believe in this opportunity to come together to try to solve things on a much broader scale and optimize our collective levels of resources,” adds Andersen who encourages people to get in touch directly with him through the John Deere website.
Listen my interview with Geoff Andersen to learn more about their small-holder farmer mobile training unit: [wpaudio url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/zimmcomm/wfp15-andersen.mp3″ text=”Interview with Geoff Andersen, John Deere”]