BLOG Archive: September 2015


ONE ACRE FUND ANNOUNCES OPEN ENROLLMENT IN KENYA FOR 2017

image description
Sep 24, 2015 Category: Core Program News Tags: enrollment kenya press release

Affordable Agricultural Loans and Training Available to Farmers in Western and Nyanza

BUNGOMA, Kenya, Sept. 27, 2016 — One Acre Fund, a nonprofit agriculture organization that offers farming inputs and training on credit to smallholder farmers, today announced open enrollment for the 2017 long rain growing season in Kenya. Participating farmers will receive a complete bundle of agricultural inputs and services on credit, including the delivery of improved seeds and fertilizer, training on how to maximize crop yields, and education on how to minimize post-harvest losses. In 2015 farmers in the program increased farm income by 55 percent.

Loan package values range from 4,000 to 15,000 Kenyan shillings ($40 to $148) for new farmers and up to 27,500 shillings ($272) for returning farmers. One Acre Fund’s service bundle is available to smallholder farmers in selected counties in Western and Nyanza, Kenya.

One Acre Fund delivers all products to a drop-off point within walking distance of farmers’ homes and leads regular in-person training sessions so that farmers can maximize the benefit from the products they receive. Farmers in the program also have access to full-time field officers employed by One Acre Fund, a customer-care hotline, and local staff throughout Western and Nyanza in Kenya. One Acre Fund offers a flexible repayment system: Farmers may repay loans in any amount at any time during the growing season.

"One Acre Fund Kenya is excited to offer farmers its most affordable package yet,” said Kiette Tucker,  One Acre Fund Kenya country director. “Enrollment for the program is officially open, and we're looking to serve more new farmers than ever before."

One Acre Fund’s loan packages vary depending on farmers’ preferences. Farmers may enroll as little as a quarter of an acre of land, or choose to take non-agricultural products entirely. In Kenya, One Acre Fund provides a maximum of one loan package per household. To join One Acre Fund this season, farmers must sign up before October 21. To qualify to receive inputs, farmers are required to pay at least 500 Kenyan shillings toward their loan by December 31, 2016. They are expected to complete loan repayment in full by the end of harvest time, or no later than September 3, 2017.

Farmers may enroll for the following core products on credit from One Acre Fund: seeds for maize, beans and onions, fertilizer, additional topdressing fertilizer, solar lights, cook stoves, drying tarps, crop storage bags, PICS bags, actellic dust, reusable sanitary pads, and compost boosters. Every farmer will be required to take the client support bundle, which includes trainings, funeral insurance, a grevillea tree package, and sukuma wiki seeds. Returning farmers will also be able to enroll for a Solar Home System.

“When I enrolled with One Acre Fund in 2011, I harvested 15 bags of maize, three times more than before, and I have kept on harvesting more ever since,” said Andrew Murefu, a smallholder farmer in Nang’eni, Bungoma County. “With my harvests, I have been able to educate my children, and I’m now sure they will find good jobs and be able to support their own families.”

Contacts

Farmer Inquiries:
One Acre Fund Kenya Enrollment toll free number 0800723355.
Representatives available Monday through Friday (8am – 5pm) and Saturday (8am – 11am).


Top 3 Tips for Hiring Managers in Social Enterprises

image description
Sep 23, 2015 Category: Roundup Staff Profile Tags: farmers first recruitment staff

This post was originally published on Linkedin Pulse. To view the original piece, click here. By Jennie Calhoun.

one acre fund hiring principles

I lead recruitment at One Acre Fund, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides farmers with the inputs, financing and training they need to improve their productivity, increase their incomes, and permanently end hunger in their homes and communities.

Our unique operating model addresses each aspect of the agriculture value chain. But when people ask me what our single greatest organizational asset is, my answer is simple: people.

We’re lucky to receive hundreds of job applications each week, and our hardworking people operations team carefully reads each and every one. We take pride in having an extremely rigorous vetting and interview process, and while it may take several months to complete, we believe the farmers we work with deserve nothing less than the very best service. And that means recruiting the very best talent.

Our hiring philosophy centers on finding mission-driven professionals who want to build long-term careers at One Acre Fund, and who are committed to our philosophy of “Farmers First.” As someone who used to live and work in the field, I can confidently say that “Farmers First” is more than just a catch phrase— One Acre Fund staff humbly and tirelessly put Farmers First in everything they do.

When evaluating applicants, we look for a combination of role fit, values fit and organizational fit. But how do we manage to sift through all those job applications to hone in on the right candidates? For starters, it helps to have a set of clear, organization-wide principles that guide everything from our workplace interactions to our recruitment efforts.

While I won’t got into detail describing all of One Acre Fund’s core values, here are 3 hiring principles we’ve learned to live by:

  1. Patience is a virtue— and a savvy hiring tactic. Ever heard of “Hire slow, fire fast?” While we don’t drag our feet with job applicants, we do believe it’s important to hire the right person for the right role – we’re not interested in rushing to fill important roles. While this approach can extend the interview period, it often results in employees with higher job satisfaction, better results and greater long-term commitment to their jobs. By playing the long game, we reduce our recruitment and training costs by investing more time, energy and resources into finding the right person. This pays huge dividends in terms of building organizational leaders.
  2. The best predictor of a candidate’s future performance? [hint: it’s their performance]. While CVs can help us evaluate past performance, we’re really interested in how candidates perform live. That’s why our multiple-stage interview process involves completing several exercises, which mirror tasks the candidate would be assigned if they were to fill the role in question. This has the dual benefit of allowing us to see how someone would tackle a project, while also helping candidates test-drive the role they’re applying for.
  3. Values, Values, Values. While we just finished extolling the virtues of high-performing candidates, high performers who match the values of your organization are the ones who are going to add a ton of value to your team in the long run. Living conditions in the field can be challenging for some. For an organization like One Acre Fund, the ability to complete tasks in unfamiliar or adverse conditions is crucial to success, so we tend to look for candidates who hold our values of working hard and being flexible in service to our farmers. For all our positions, a humble, no-frills attitude is absolutely essential.

Today, One Acre Fund serves 280,000 smallholder farmer families across Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. By 2020, we plan to serve at least 1 million families. We wouldn’t be where we are now, or be able to set ambitious future goals, without our exceptional team of hard-core, mission-minded professionals willing to put Farmers First every single day.

So if you’re a professional recruiter, or a nonprofit social enterprise looking to boost the quality of your applicant pool, take it from me: carefully honing your hiring process to evaluate applicant values, performance, and team fit is one of the best time investments you can make.

Want to join the One Acre Fund team? Visit our jobs page and apply today!

one acre fund 3 hiring principles


Hear Farmers Speak on Sustainable Development Goals

image description
Sep 22, 2015 Category: News Policy Tags: farming first sdgs smallholder

Farming First compiles calls to action from 10 farmers all over the world on how to move SDGs from goals to action.

farming first SDGs and Me

A new online resource has been launched by global agricultural coalition Farming First that vocalises calls-to-action from farmers around the world on what they hope the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals on 25th-26th September 2015 will do for them, and how they can embrace them with their own actions.

The collection of stories “The SDGs and Me” can be viewed in full at: www.farmingfirst.org/sdgs-and-me

Farmers from Cambodia to Kenya were asked how they hope the government, NGOs and private sector will take action in their local areas.

“I would ask the state to set up an agricultural bank to enable growers to own their land,” 52 year-old Bernadette Sossou, a vegetable farmer from Benin told Farming First. “Cities are rising and land has become much more expensive; one hectare can cost up to 18 million CFA francs. Banks require collateral, such as a land title before lending us money, but only one out of 100 producers own the land they cultivate,” she commented.

A client of the 2Scale project run by Farming First supporter IFDC, Bernadette relies on her vegetable farm for food security, and for the school fees for her children, but fears the land she farms could be sold. Goals one (ending poverty) two (ending hunger) and four (inclusive education) could be tackled if Bernadette continues to receive the support she needs to farm productively.

The collection of stories illustrates agriculture’s role in achieving many of the United Nations’ targets, including sustainable use of water, combatting climate change and the empowerment of women.

“Farmers stand at the nexus of some of the most crucial Sustainable Development Goals,” says David Hong, Global Policy Officer at One Acre Fund and Farming First spokesperson. “For example, if we are reaching farmers with improved seeds that will grow even when rainfall is scarce, or even when plains are flooded, this will help farmers overcome the challenges that climate change poses to their production.”

The Farming First coalition intends for this resource to be used to inform policymaking decisions that will tackle more than one Sustainable Development Goal at a time.

Farming First supporters are already working all over the globe on farmer-centric initiatives for sustainable agricultural development. The list below outlines the farmers interviewed for the series, and the Farming First supporter organisation each farmer works with:

• Bernadette Sossou, Benin (International Fertilizer Development Center)
• Halima Naiga, Uganda (Chemonics)
• Michael Mwangi, Kenya (Shamba Shape Up)
• Chieng Sophat, Cambodia (Fintrac)
• Yovita Kawage, Tanzania (One Acre Fund)
• Ismael Espinoza López, Nicaragua (Technoserve)
• Anwar Hosen, Bangladesh (CNFA)
• Daniel Kelley, USA (American Farm Bureau)
• Annmarie Venegba, Burkina Faso (Self Help Africa)
• Alphaxrd Gitau Ndungu, Kenya (YPARD)

The collection is the latest in Farming First’s multi award-winning creative products in support of sustainable agriculture around the world. View the full series at: www.farmingfirst.org

About Farming First
Farming First is a multi-stakeholder coalition of than 170 organisations operating around the world. The coalition exists to articulate, endorse and promote practical, actionable programmes and activities to further sustainable agricultural development worldwide. Farming First organisations represent the world’s farmers, scientists, engineers and industry as well as leading agricultural development organisations. With one shared voice, Farming First highlights the importance of improving farmers’ livelihoods and agriculture’s potential contribution to global issues such as food security, climate change and biodiversity.
www.farmingfirst.org


Preparing for Harvest M&E: 6 Simple Steps

image description
Sep 21, 2015 Category: Core Program Tags: data harvest impact m&e

Interested in joining One Acre Fund's field team? Visit our jobs page to learn about our open positions.

If you visit the impact page of our website, you’ll see that on average, One Acre Fund farmers gain an extra $128 USD in farm income compared with neighboring farmers who don’t enroll with One Acre Fund. So how do we know that farmers experience this increase in income? The answer is through our rigorous harvest monitoring and evaluation (M&E) process!

At harvest time, One Acre Fund M&E agents measure and compare the harvests of One Acre Fund farmers with the harvests of farmers who have enrolled with One Acre Fund but who have not yet planted with us. The data we collect by comparing these similar farmer groups during harvest is a critical factor in determining which crops we will offer in next year’s loan package. We are also able to measure the impact of our program on harvest yields. Finally, our survey agents are an important touch point for our clients. They can collect feedback from farmers that will ultimately allow us to improve our customer service.

But before they actually weigh farmers’ harvests, M&E agents must follow a specific set of instructions to create the boxes they use to delineate which sections of farmers’ fields will be measured. These instructions help ensure uniformity and reduce the possibility of errors that could potentially skew the data we collect during monitoring and evaluation.

Below, we share the six steps M&E agents follow to prepare for harvest M&E:

step 1 one acre fund harvest M&E

After receiving the farmer’s consent and assuring them that One Acre Fund is not going to take away their harvest, the survey agent finds the starting corner by standing on the corner of the plot nearest the farmer’s house.  This is labeled “corner 1” on the control sheet. The numbers go from one to four in a clockwise fashion.

step 2 one acre fund harvest M&E

Next, the survey agent will move into the field. He or she stands on the corner listed on the control sheet, and takes four steps along the rows of the field. Then they take 4 steps into the field, and place the first stake just next to the closest plant.

step 3 one acre fund harvest M&E

After that, the agent makes what we call the harvest box. He or she moves five meters along the line of plants and places the second stake. Next, he or she moves eight meters across the plants and place the third stake. Finally, after measuring five meters along the line of plants again, the agent places the fourth stake.


step 4 one acre fund harvest M&E


Now it’s time to make the second harvest box. The agent moves diagonally towards the opposite corner of the field for eight steps (or four steps if eight steps means stepping out of the field or into a place the box can’t be made). The agent then follows the same process outlined in steps one through three to create the second harvest box.


step 5 one acre fund harvest M&E


The next-to-last step involves filling out the control sheet. Agents fill in the date the boxes were made, the crops being measured, and, with the farmer’s help, the approximate date when they predict the field will be ready to harvest. Noting an approximate date for harvest is important— this is how field agents prioritize which farmers to visit when farmers begin to harvest their crop.

step 6 one acre fund harvest M&E

Finally, the field agent will review a set of instructions with the farmer. Farmers are reminded not the move the box, or allow their children or animals to destroy or move the box. Farmers are also instructed not to harvest their box without a field agent being present.

And of course, field agents are careful to reiterate to farmers that One Acre Fund uses harvest boxes to understand and compare how One Acre Fund and non-One Acre Fund crops are performing, and will never take away their harvest.

The information One Acre Fund collects during harvest M&E is essential data for impact measurement. It helps us better understand the farmer’s experience with their farming, and ultimately ensure that we’re providing them with the inputs, tools and training they need to permanently increase their farm income.

Want to hear from the people who actually conduct harvest M&E? Read this Q&A with One Acre Fund M&E agent Gaudentia Washiali!


One Acre Fund Scales Reusable Sanitary Pads in Kenya

image description
Sep 17, 2015 Category: Core Program Trials Tags: kenya reusable sanitary pads women

Scaling resuable sanitary pads in Kenya is just one of the exciting projects our program associates work on. If you want a meaningful job that takes you to the field, apply to be a One Acre Fund program associate today!

When One Acre Fund’s field officers in Webuye, Kenya met with farmer groups in January 2015, they had more than the usual planting trainings to deliver. All 49 field officers (both men and women) in the district were on a mission. Their goal? To explain the benefits of AFRIpads reusable sanitary pads, which were selected after in-depth evaluation by our product innovations team as a product farmers could choose to purchase on top of the standard One Acre Fund package.

Webuye district was the site of our first farmer trials for reusable sanitary pads. The So Sure Pads, made by AFRIpads, have a lot to offer: at only $6 USD, they come in a pack of 4 pads, can be used for 12+ months, are highly absorbent, are easy to wash, and dry quickly. They offer women and girls a more sanitary option than cloth materials, and for those who can afford to purchase disposable pads, AFRIpads also wind up being more cost effective than purchasing expensive disposable pads every month.

one acre fund AFRIpads demonstration

A field officer demonstrates the absorbency of the reusable pads at a farmer group meeting.

After hearing their One Acre Fund field officer explain the benefits of reusable sanitary pads, Pamela and Francesca, two female farmers in Webuye District, immediately signed up to purchase them. Both women are experienced One Acre Fund farmers with extensive practice using the improved planting techniques learned in One Acre Fund trainings and strong track records of improved harvests and increased incomes. Yet this was the very first time either woman had stopped to consider how reusable sanitary pads could also improve their productivity and incomes.

Pamela lives close to a main road in Webuye. Until now, she had relied on disposable pads, spending 200-220 Kenyan shillings ($2-2.25 USD) each month. “I dreaded my periods would start at a time in the month when I didn’t have money to purchase pads,” she recalls.

For Francesca, disposable sanitary pads were a luxury she often couldn’t afford. “During the hunger season, I had to make a choice between either buying food or sanitary pads. In most cases I could not allow my children to go hungry, so I would buy food and then cut pieces from old clothes and blankets to use as pads,” Francesca explains. “Sometimes, I would not join other people or visit my friends because I worried that I smelled or might leak. I stayed in the house alone the whole day.”

Lack of access to adequate menstrual hygiene education and products is a barrier to the health and freedom of women and girls. In our research, 62 percent of One Acre Fund farmers report using ‘traditional materials’ during their menstrual cycles, such as cloth, pieces of blankets, mattresses, or cotton wool. Many women go through their day fearing that these materials may leak, or worse, fall out, while they’re in a meeting or working in their fields. On average, One Acre Fund farmers can afford disposable pads 43 percent of the time. But during the hunger season, disposable pads represent a big expense; many choose to spend their extra cash on food or on school fees for their children.

The issue affects the potential and productivity of girls in school as well.  Farmers’ daughters will often skip school if they don’t have pads to use, or sit in class distracted and unable to focus because of embarrassment. One woman told a story of how, as a young girl, “one time I didn’t have money, so I used cotton. It distracted me and was uncomfortable. I was in class, anxious, and the teacher asked me to go to the front of the room. I was too afraid and I didn’t go. The teacher slapped me – it ruined my relationship with the teacher and it was hard to get anything from the class. I would make up stories to skip and school.”

When One Acre Fund set out to tackle this issue, we started with evaluating every option on the market. There are many terrific products out there, but what would be most comfortable, hygienic, affordable, and feasible to deliver to our farmers? We came up with a few ideas, and then used direct farmer testing – women are happy to try something new – to find out. We determined that reusable pads were recognizable because all women are already familiar with disposable pads, more hygienic than menstrual cups since many farmers do not have running water, and more affordable and efficient than a year’s supply of disposable pads, which generates a huge amount of waste in places without a waste disposal system. With AFRIpads selected as our best option, our goal was to offer reusable sanitary pads at full-scale, across all One Acre Fund districts in Kenya.

Farmers in Kenya were surprised to see One Acre Fund branch out into health products. Even though most One Acre Fund farmers had never heard of a reusable sanitary pad before, One Acre Fund sold a whopping 2,000 packets of pads in just two weeks! Unsurprisingly, female farmers were eager to purchase the pads, and male farmers also bought them for their wives and daughters.

one acre fund afripads

Francesca Nasambu, from Webuye district, Kenya, holding her reusable sanitary pads.

We visited Francesca and Pamela in June, several months after they received the reusable pads they’d purchased. Happily, their plentiful harvests were getting them successfully through the period of the year they used to refer to as the hunger season.

“I love these pads. They feel dry and comfortable, and sometimes I forget that I’m even wearing them because they are very light,” Pamela told us. In just two months of not purchasing disposable pads, she was able to save 400 Kenyan shillings (about $4 USD), which she put towards the purchase a chicken. She hopes investing in poultry will generate more income for her family.

Francesca is also very happy. She feels comfortable in the pads and no longer feels confined to her home for days out of every month. She has told the women she knows about the benefits of reusable pads and hopes they’ll purchase them from One Acre Fund as well.

Pamela and Francesca weren’t the only farmers who felt AFRIpads had made an improvement in their lives. A farmer survey we conducted found that 97 percent of women felt the pads were better than what they had used previously, and 88 percent would ‘definitely recommend’ them to friends. One Acre fund is still finalizing a randomized control trial to better understand the economic and quality-of-life impact of reusable sanitary pads, but we know this product is popular with farmers.

One Acre Fund Kenya will be offering reusable pads to all farmers and staff (who have been asking for them!) in 2016. We're eager to hear more stories about the positive impact these pads will have for females farmers and their daughters. 

Scaling resuable sanitary pads in Kenya is just one of the exciting projects our program associates work on. If you want a meaningful job that takes you to the field, apply to be a One Acre Fund program associate today!


One Acre Fund Fall 2015 Recruitment Event Calendar

image description
Sep 11, 2015 Category: Roundup Tags: careers events recruitment

You've read our reading lists, and joined our career webinars. Now, you have a chance to come meet One Acre Fund staff in person, and learn more about what a career putting Farmers First is actually like.

Below, we share our Fall 2015 Recruitment Event Calendar. Be sure to mark your calendars, and check back here for updates, because event dates and times are subject to change. 

Don't miss the chance to come introduce yourself!

Event Date/Time Location
Be Social Change Social Impact Showcase Panel 9/16/2015, 6:30pm EDT New York, NY
Columbia Graduate Student Career Fair 9/18/2015, 12- 4pm EDT New York, NY
Stanford Fall Career Fair 10/1/2015, 10:30am - 4pm PDT Palo Alto, CA
Georgetown SFS Info Session 10/14/2015, 4pm EDT Washington DC
SAIS Info Session 10/15/2015, 12:30pm EDT Washington DC
SAIS Fall Career Fair 10/16/2015, 12:30 - 3:30 pm EDT  
Unite for Sight Social Entrepeneurship Institute 10/30/2015 New Haven, CT
UVA Global Development Career Day 11/5/15 - 11/6/15 Charlottesville, VA
Harvard Global Health, Humanitarian, & Human Rights Fair 11/5/2015, 4-6pm EDT Cambridge, MA
Columbia SIPA Info Session 11/12/2015 New York, NY
Net Impact Expo (At the conference) 11/6/2015, 8am-4:30pm PDT Seattle, WA
Wharton Africa Business Forum Career Fair 11/14/2015 Philadelphia, PA

How We Reach 100,000 Rwandan Farmers

image description
Sep 10, 2015 Category: Core Program Field Photos Tags: enrollment field staff marketing rwanda

Help One Acre Fund market life-changing products to serve even more farmers! Apply for our rural marketing associate role today!

Photos by Evariste Bagambiki.

Goal setting is fresh on everyone’s mind– after all, we're about to enact the Sustainable Development Goals and embark on the post-2015 development agenda. At One Acre Fund, we’ve set a few goals of our own, including reaching 1 million farm families by 2020.

Reaching farmers on that kind of scale requires careful planning and the right marketing strategies. Over the past two years, One Acre Fund Rwanda has paved the way by trialing new marketing methods to help us reach more clients. Founded in 2007 with just 100 farm families, our Rwanda program now serves more than 100,000 smallholder farmers.

We wanted to find out more about how our field team markets products and enrolls new clients. To get the scoop, we followed Agnes Mukahigiro, a field officer from Kirambo, Rwanda. 

enrollment one acre fund rwanda

Agnes has been working for One Acre Fund for 4 years. She's smiling because this year, she was able to recruit 230 smallholder farmers to sign up for our program.

season enrollment one acre fund rwanda

Before the marketing and enrollment process begins, Agnes attends a two-day enrollment boot camp at our headquarters in Rubengera. Training handouts like the one pictured about will help her remember what she learns, successfully market products, and enroll farmers.

After bootcamp, field officers head to their district sites, carrying a transparent bucket that contains samples of the products clients can purchase on credit. This year’s bucket included products such as fertilizer, seed, a crop storage bag, two solar lights, and a water purifier.

one acre fund marketing to farmers

Farmers are always curious to know what new products will be on offer each season. Agnes takes her time to show off each product, explaining what each one is, how it works, and how much it will cost.

oen acre fund new products

One Acre Fund’s product catalog helps farmers fully understand their package options.

one acre fund product catalogue

After meeting with groups of farmers, Agnes makes the occasional home visit to farmers who were not able to attend. She wants to be certain any interested farmer has the opportunity to learn about One Acre Fund’s offerings for the upcoming season.

one acre fund marketing products

Finally, after seven weeks of marketing meetings and Q&A sessions with farmers, Agnes starts enrolling farmers. She will ask farmers which products they are interested in purchasing, and then fill out a sign up sheet to mark down their preferences.

One Acre Fund field staff work hard, and are dedicated to putting Farmers First in everything they do. Click here to read the top 10 reasons One Acre Fund field staff love their jobs.


A Behind-the-Scenes Look at One Acre Fund Farmer Trainings

image description
Sep 07, 2015 Category: Core Program Tags: farmer trainings kenya world literacy day

Did you know that 757 million adults and 115 million youths still lack basic reading and writing skills? To learn more about literacy rates throughout the world, or about International Literacy Day, click here.

one acre fund training world literacy day

“Every meeting we have farmers who cannot read,” Catherine Nyongesa says. As a One Acre Fund field manager, Catherine is responsible for overseeing the field officers who deliver One Acre Fund’s comprehensive service bundle to farmer groups over the course of the season. “I visit one site every day, which means five farmer sites a week, and there are always farmers who cannot read there. Out of a group of 40, I consistently find three or four farmers who are unable to read at all.”

The literacy rate in the countries where One Acre Fund works averages just above 70 percent. The majority of the remaining 30 percent who are unable to read reside in rural areas. Since the earliest days of One Acre Fund operations in Kenya, we realized that in order to help smallholder farmers boost their productivity and generate permanent gains in farm income, our trainings would need to be comprehensible even to those who were unable to read and write.

We believe that providing smallholder farmers with access to comprehensible, up-to-date information about proven agriculture techniques is an essential weapon in the fight to end to global hunger. Advances in agriculture technology— like fertilizer, for example— have been around for decades, and have helped millions of people in many countries improve agricultural productivity. Yet these simplest of innovations are still totally out of reach for many smallholder farmers living in remote areas of East Africa. As a result, these farm families and their communities remain food insecure.

Though our training materials evolve and change with the products we offer in our loan package each season, they always include two key elements: a practical, hands-on component, and picture-based handouts to illustrate technical instructions.

one acre fund training

“It is important to use familiar items for accuracy,” Catherine says. “You cannot ask an old mama to use a ruler because she cannot read it. She can, however, understand using a stick the length of her arm."

A practical, hands-on section, is a part of every agricultural training delivered to farmers by field staff. When farmers attend the weekly trainings One Acre Fund provides, they first receive the agricultural information verbally. After the lesson, farmers are then asked to participate in practicing what they’ve just learned out in the field. This means actually going to a nearby farm and having the trainees demonstrate what they have learned, such as the proper spacing for sorghum seeds, or how to use a PICs storage bag to correctly minimize post-harvest losses.

“When I just train someone using words, they still might not get it.” Catherine says. “I often find that in the initial training, the farmers don’t fully understand everything. Then we go to the practical component. It’s really useful to watch farmers practice, because there they make mistakes, and I can correct them to make sure they really have learned what we are teaching.”

After hands-on practice, picture-based handouts are another safeguard measure for ensuring farmers can understand what are often very technical instructions. One Acre Fund field staff across all countries of operation use illustrations and photo-based handouts to show farmers visually all the steps involved in processes related to planting and harvesting.

All handouts use visual references farmers are familiar with and have access to. For example, to show farmers in Burundi how deep three inches, we don’t reference a ruler or measurement unit. Instead, we show that their bean seeds should be buried in a hole roughly as deep as their finger is long. In Kenya and Rwanda, farmers learn to properly micro-dose and space fertilizer in their fields using bottle caps and nails as volume and distance measurement units, and the picture-based handouts for these trainings feature these everyday, household items.

one acre fund training

Farmers learn to properly micro-dose and space fertilizer in their fields using bottle caps and nails as volume and distance measurement unit.

“It is important to use familiar items for accuracy,” Catherine says. “You cannot ask an old mama to use a ruler because she cannot read it. She can, however, understand using a stick the length of her arm. When farmers understand the trainings, then they won’t make mistakes planting or using our products, and this means they’ll have better harvests. If they don’t understand well and go to plant, they may miss a step and then not harvest so well, so we really want to make sure they understand everything.”

On average, farmers who enroll in One Acre Fund’s program experience between a 50 and 100 percent increase in income on every planted acre, and generate an average dollar gain in farm income of USD $135. While effective trainings are only one aspect of our model, ensuring ALL farmers, no matter what their education level, clearly understand how best to use the improved farm inputs we deliver to them, can mean the difference between hunger and plenty.


10 Reasons You Should Consider a Field-Based Career

image description
Sep 01, 2015 Category: Staff Profile Tags: careers field staff jobs

Interested in helping One Acre Fund's mission-driven field staffers put Farmers First? Visit our jobs page and apply today!

Let’s face it: getting out of bed and going to work every day is much easier if you care about what you’re doing. For some of us, it also helps if our job takes us out in the field, to observe farmers participating in composting trainings, or to wander through fields of sunflowers ripe for harvest.

To be successful at One Acre Fund, or at any mission-driven organization for that matter, it’s even more important to be clear about what inspires you. What are you passionate about? What is it that drives you to give every task 110%?

Making sure job applicants understand what we do at One Acre Fund is important, but it’s also important that people interested in working at One Acre Fund understand why we do what we do. The answer comes back to one key phrase: Farmers First.

We decided to ask current staffers why they love coming to work every day— what they like the best about working in the field, why they feel their work is fulfilling both personally and professionally, and how they practice “Farmers First.”

One Acre Fund field manager

“It feels good to help farmers achieve a sustainable life, where they can truly depend on themselves and depend on their farming. I also love that I have gotten the opportunity to meet many different people through my work at One Acre Fund.”
Benerdete Wekulo, Field Manager

one acre fund staff

“I love what I do because I love working with farmers, who work very, very hard to make a better life for their families. To me, “Farmers First” means eradicating poverty from rural communities entirely! My job also allows me to work towards this goal every single day.”
Catherine Nyongesa, Field Manager

one are fund staff

“My coworkers will stop at nothing to make a positive change in other peoples’ lives. I’m very fortunate to work with quite a few game-changing people, and the desire to help and keep up with them is what drives me. I love our team spirit!”
Eclay Munala, Senior Field Operations Associate

one acre fund staff

“I enjoy working with our field officers, training them and ensuring they develop all the skills necessary to serve farmers. I love the way we interact as a team too… everyone plays a part in putting farmers first”
Francis Wamukaba Wefafa, Field Director

one acre fund staff

“I have grown a lot as a professional through the feedback I have received while working at One Acre Fund. I’ve learned how to set and to meet targets, and work successfully in a team. We achieved 100 percent repayment at the end of last season, which I think was a direct result of everyone working together as a team.”
Jackline Barasa, Assistant Field Director

one acre fund staff

“What I like most about my work is that I get to spend a lot of the time in the field, interacting with farmers. We work together and we make jokes, which makes work all the more fun.”
Joseph Barasa, Field Manager

one acre fund staff jourdan mcginn global health corps

"Each and every day, I am challenged in small and big ways to solve complex problems with my team. I know that each solution we come up with is a step closer to making more farmers more prosperous."
Jourdan McGinn, Field Operations Program Manager

one acre fund staff

“Working on the field ops team is so fulfilling. People are open minded and ready to share and hear ideas— everyone is just so supportive. I have seen myself grow because my bosses have given me honest, open, and constructive feedback. They have supported me and helped me develop new skills. It’s a department that I never want to leave.”
Mercy Samita, Senior Field Operations Associate

one acre fund staff

“I love being a member of the field operations team at One Acre Fund because I get to see first-hand the incredible impact the organization is creating for farm families in Western Kenya. My work challenges me to put farmers first every single day.”
Phoebe Carver, Field Program Associate

one acre fund

“I love that I get to learn about and share new agriculture technologies that will be hugely impactful for farmers. The fact that we get to improve the living standards of so many farm families by providing products that have a positive impact on these families’ health, finances, and food security is what is fulfilling to me as a field officer.
Polyn Otuuma, Field Officer

one acre fund staff

“Ever since I joined One Acre Fund, I can clearly see that my work has made an impact to the lives of farmers. Seeing the impact of our program first-hand has also improved my self-esteem. For example, I never knew I could stand in front of people and teach. I’m now very confident because I believe in what we are doing!”
Rhoda Wekesa, Field Officer

Interested in helping One Acre Fund's mission-driven field staffers put Farmers First? Visit our Jobs Openings and apply today!


inner