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How Compost Saved This Rwandan Farmer From Hunger


Ezira Ntegeyimbuga sits atop his completed compost pile.

Ezira Ntegeyimbuga sits atop his completed compost pile.

Raising the hand hoe high over his head, Ezira Ntegeyimbuga moves with a strength and assuredness that belies his 64 years. His middle son, 15-year-old Isaac Ndikuryayo, looks on as his father breaks up the red-brown dirt clods in a corner of their land. Breaking up the soil is the first step to creating a compost plot.

“The compost is easy to make. Whatever materials I need are around me, and I can make it near my field where it won’t be a big problem for transportation,” Ezira says.

Ezira made compost for the first time in 2013, but he’d been hearing about the benefits of composting since 2010. That was the year he first enrolled with One Acre Fund, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides over 400,000 farmers in East Africa with access to seed, fertilizer, and agriculture trainings. One of the trainings offered was how to make and apply compost, which is proven to enrich soils with vital nutrients needed to produce healthy crops.

Ezira’s decision to join One Acre Fund wasn’t about learning to make compost. A life-long smallholder farmer from Karongi, Rwanda, Ezira’s biggest challenge was that he could never afford the cost of purchasing and transporting fertilizer from the market to his remote village. As a result, his yields were always low. So when a One Acre Fund field officer told him he could purchase seed and fertilizer on credit and get his purchase delivered to a site in his village, Ezira was excited. He immediately enrolled and was elected leader of his farmer group.

In that first year, he harvested 110 pounds of beans and 330 pounds of maize on just one-third of an acre of land. Ezira’s excitement quickly turned to relief. His 2010 harvest, the largest of his life, was enough to feed his family for the whole year. But his relief stemmed from something else. For some time, he had been noticing troubling behavior in his sons.

“When my children were in the village and saw maize growing in someone’s field, they would just grab the maize and run away. I was depressed, and knew I had to somehow change this situation to help them,” Ezira says.

The following year, Ezira enrolled more land with One Acre Fund and planted maize and beans, again using the new methods he had learned. He harvested a whopping 154 pounds of beans and 375 pounds of maize from just under half an acre.

Buoyed by two strong harvests in a row, Ezira began to believe he could achieve success through farming. He attended One Acre Fund trainings regularly and learned about applying just a small amount of fertilizer through micro-dosing. He also learned about combining fertilizer and manure to improve soil and crop health. Ezira had a cow and a young bull, so he began collecting and applying the manure to further improve his yields.

Then, in 2013, things suddenly took a turn for the worse. Ezira’s big cow died of disease, and the young bull couldn’t produce enough manure to fertilize all his fields. That year, Ezira was only able to afford fertilizer for a very small portion of his fields, and he harvested a mere 55 pounds of beans and 110 pounds of maize. 

Ezira recalls feeling discouraged and apprehensive. “I really felt sad. I had gone backwards, and was harvesting the amount I used to harvest before joining One Acre Fund,” he says.

During this difficult time, Ezira attended a One Acre Fund training on how to prepare compost. He had been to One Acre Fund trainings on composting in the past but hadn’t ever made a compost pile, because he knew he could count on his manure. That year, though, he paid close attention and learned how to salvage plant-based harvest waste, how to properly create compost piles, and when and how to apply the nutrient-rich organic matter to his fields. 

Ezira spent the next four months digging, stacking, scooping, and monitoring his decomposing compost pile, looking for the telltale changes in temperature and color to ensure he was on the right track. He was meticulous and determined and followed each training step to the letter. After applying the compost to his fields, Ezira found himself waiting anxiously for harvest to come.

Ezira helps prepare his compost pile.

Ezira helps prepare his compost pile

Ezira continues tending to his compost pile.

Ezira tends to his compost pile

When harvest finally came, Ezira could not have been more pleased with the results. He had harvested 176 pounds of beans and 397 pounds of maize from just under half an acre, more than his best season with One Acre Fund.

In the midst of placing dried maize stalks onto his compost pile, Ezira stops for a moment to reflect. “The compost training saved me from poverty and hunger,” he says.

With his harvest back to the levels he had been counting on, Ezira has wasted no time laying his plans for the future. Inspired by his own success with composting, Ezira plans to start a composting business to sell to neighboring farmers who lack his knowledge of composting techniques. 

“The skills I learned from One Acre Fund were just the beginning. I now have to turn my skills into money,” Ezira says.

This additional income stream will play a critical role in helping Ezira achieve his most important goal: raising his sons to be good men. With the threat of hunger behind them, they have stopped getting into trouble. Ezira plans to use the income from his composting business to pay for their school supplies.

“When a child is educated, he or she can live and survive in whatever circumstances,” Ezira says proudly. “I will send my children to school because it is my responsibility, but in the end, it is up to them to choose who they will become.”


Why One Acre Fund Trains Farmers in Composting


Photos by Evariste Bagambiki, One Acre Fund communications associate.

One Acre Fund is sharply focused on our program’s long-term impact on soil. We are dedicated to making sure that at a minimum, the methods we teach don’t degrade farmers’ fields over time, and whenever possible improve the health of the soil they depend upon to make their living.

One way we help farmers improve their soil is through composting trainings, which we offer in Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi. By creating their own compost and then using it during planting, farmers are able to return much-needed nutrients to their fields. This enriches the soil and results in improved yields.

In Rwanda, the field team just completed a series of composting trainings. We asked Rwanda field manager Eric Nyiruburanga to explain exactly how we teach farmers to create and use compost.

one acre fund field manager compost training

Meet Eric Nyiruburanga!

Eric worked as a One Acre Fund field officer for five years before being promoted this year to field manager. Before working with One Acre Fund, he farmed with us too!

One acre fund compost training rwanda

Eric begins his compost training in Kibogora, Rwanda.

Eric, before we dive into the compost trainings, would you tell us what your favorite part of your job is? 

Training farmers is the most important thing I do. Every farmer I work with has the chance to improve his or her harvests by following the methods I teach them. That’s why I enjoy trainings and put a lot of effort into delivering them well. If my trainings are done well, then more farmers will be able to realize their harvest potential.

Why do you think the trainings you give on making compost are so valuable to farmers?

At One Acre Fund, we always encourage farmers to both micro-dose fertilizer and use organic compost. This way they can make their soil productive while still keeping it healthy. Some farmers do not have livestock, so they don’t have manure to use while farming. The organic compost that we teach farmers to make is a good alternative because all the materials, such as ash, grasses, and soil, are easy for everyone to find.

How do farmers feel about the compost mixture?

They like it! The farmers I work with are used to having to buy manure from neighbors for their fields. Now they don’t need to buy manure and can save the money to use for other needs. When the farmers know it is the compost training day, they make sure not to miss the training. If they are not available that day, they send their children because they know how important compost is.

Can you tell us the basics of how you make compost?

Making compost doesn’t require money. All of the ingredients – ash, fresh and dried grasses, animal waste, soil, and water – are available at almost every farmer’s home. After they compile the ingredients, I teach them the techniques of stacking and combining them.

First you have to prepare a space in the ground. You can dig a hole or prepare the surface.

Then you lay small sticks on the ground.

maize sticks from harvesting for compost base

Maize stalks from harvesting can make a good base for compost.

The next step is to begin stacking the materials: first are dried grasses, second are fresh grasses, third is manure, fourth is soil, and fifth is ash, and then animal urine and water. That completes one layer— compost can be made of more than one layer of the same materials if you like.

layers of compost one acre fund rwanda

Farmers add the various layers of materials to build a compost pile.

one acre fund compost training Rwanda

Eric demonstrates how to add a water and livestock urine mixture to the compost.

compost layers one acre fund rwanda

Eric shows farmers how to stack multiple layers when making compost.

When you have finished with the layers, you put a small stick in the center, which will help show if the compost pile is decaying. If the stick is warm when you check it, it means the pile is decaying. If it is cold, the pile is not decaying, so you need to stir the pile.

compost pile one acre fund

Eric demonstrates how to check for heat in a compost pile.

The final step is to cover the compost pile with bananas leaves or other grasses.

So after the compost is ready, how do farmers apply it to their fields?

I always recommend farmers make the compost near their fields so it won’t be a challenge to transport it when the compost is ready. The application of the compost is not much different from animal manure application- I recommend use two hands, and dump the compost into a hole to about one meter if they are planting in furrows. However, you can use more than that quantity if you have much compost to satisfy the whole field.
The compost is applied to all crops and can be used for every season. I mostly encourage farmers to use the compost in season B. Here in Rwanda, season B doesn't provide much rain, so the wet compost helps prevent crops from being damaged by the sun.

Compost trainings are just part of One Acre Fund’s efforts not only to improve farmers’ yields within a single season, but to ensure healthy soils and bountiful harvests for years to come. Read more about our big plans for measuring our long term impact.

Want to read more about soil health at One Acre Fund? Check out these blogs!

5 Reasons Soil Health Is Key To The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

Meet David Guerena, One Acre Fund Soil Scientist

7 Unsung Heroes of Soil Science


Surviving Field Officer Bootcamp in Kenya

Sep 28, 2014 Category: Field Photos Tags: boot camp field officers kenya training

Photos by Kelvin Owino.

At One Acre Fund, before the start of any major activity on our calendar, field staff must undergo rigorous training.  This ensures everyone is confident and prepared to handle anything that comes their way in the field. 

Recently, we photographed one of these training “boot camps” in Kenya, where field officers were preparing for 2015 enrollment. Field officers spent three days learning how to provide top-notch customer service to farmers during enrollment meetings. 

Field officers study the enrollment contract during boot camp. The contract lists farmers’ enrollment requirements, the credit limits for different farmers, and the various products farmers can purchase.

One key activity field officers review during boot camp is how to help farmers with their season credit contracts. Many field officers like this year's contract, saying it seems easy-to-use and will help farmers make informed product choices. 

“This year’s contract will save me a lot of time. Farmers can easily read through it and choose the products they desire without much supervision from me,” says field officer, Erick Nyanja.

Field manager Chrispinus Kisiangani trains field officers during boot camp.

Unlike normal weekly trainings where field managers separately train small groups of field officers, at boot camp, field managers train a large group of field officers at one time. This is both fun and intense!

With such a large group, field managers like to use role-playing to reinforce key lessons. First, field officers act out scenarios they could encounter in the field, then field managers discuss the role-play's strengths and point out areas for improvement.

Field officers take part in a role-play where a field officer is asked to explain to a farmer why enrolling with One Acre Fund will be beneficial.
 

The training materials for boot camp are simple and straight-forward, so that field officers can easily digest a multitude of topics in just three days.

Francis Wamukaba reads through the training handout at boot camp.

Field officers read through the product catalog for the 2015 season. This year's product catalogue contains photos, which allows farmers to see the products they can purchase.

Field officers also spend time discussing how to plan and conduct farmer meetings. They talk about common challenges that may arise in the field, and brainstorm how best to solve them.

Boot camp is a chance for field officers to consult with each other and share stragies for interacting with farmers.

Field officers Fred and Roselyne (seated) and Catherine (standing) share stories at boot camp.

Many field officers say they enjoy boot camp because it is an opportunity to catch up with their colleagues and problem solve collectively.

“Boot camp is unlike any other meeting. It's hard but I love it! I also like that there are little breaks for me to chat with my workmates. I find out about their families and any new incidents in their lives,” says field officer Rhoda Wekesa.

Field officers sing and dance throughout the trainings. 

It's not all work and no play, though. Many activities during bootcamp involve singing and dancing, which keeps everyone in high spirits as they learn.

By the end of boot camp, field officers are ready to start enrolling farmers for the new 2015 season. Many are excited to test out their new skills- since each field officer aims to serve approximately 250 farmers, we know they will put the lessons they learn during training to good use!

Click here for more on One Acre Fund field officers.


Turning Harvest Surplus into Two Goats and A Pig

Sep 18, 2014 Category: Farmer Profile Tags: beans burundi harvest surplus maize training

Gloriose works hard. At 35, she’s a mother to six. She and her husband Donacien rely solely on the food they produce, farming just over an acre of land in Masango Hill, Burundi. To provide for her family all year round, all she has in her arsenal of tools is a machete, a hand hoe and a few bags of seed.

Gloriose used to mix a variety of different crops together on her small plot of land. She’d plant maize, beans, cassava, and other vegetables without paying any attention to what went where, or how close one seed sat to another.

“I didn’t know how to space seeds or rotate my crops,” she says. “Very often, I didn’t use fertilizer because it was too expensive. Sometimes I would have to sell a goat just so that I could afford it.”

In 2012, One Acre Fund began operating in the village where Gloriose lives. As soon as she heard that One Acre Fund was offering planting trainings and fertilizer on credit, Gloriose decided to join.

“I was very excited to hear the fertilizer would be delivered close to my house,” she exclaims. “I used to walk more than 6 miles to reach the shops where I could buy it!”

In her first harvest after joining One Acre Fund, Gloriose’s beans doubled from 220 pounds to 440 pounds. Her maize crop also improved drastically. For the first time ever, she harvested more than 260 pounds of maize. Previously she had not harvested more than 110 pounds in her best year.

“440 pounds of beans and 260 pounds of maize were the result of changing my planting methods,” Gloriose says. “The One Acre Fund field officer taught me how to plant in lines and how to apply the same small-dose of fertilizer to each crop. It’s not easy to take care of children in Burundi, but One Acre Fund is making it possible. I am now feeding my children, buying them clothes, and paying their school fees.”

Gloriose was also able to sell her surplus harvest to buy two goats and one pig.

“The goats and the pig will both produce manure that can be used to mix with the fertilizer, which One Acre Fund has taught us how to do. This year, I’ve set my goals even higher. I don’t think I’ll harvest less than 600 pounds of maize!” she says excitedly.

If Gloriose succeeds in increasing her harvest this year, she plans to invest in more land to farm.

“My plan for next year is to sell my additional harvest and my two goats to buy more land. Then, I can continue to harvest even more over the next five years,” Gloriose says, smiling at the thought of bountiful harvests to come.


Farmers Martha and Jeremiah Hope for a Better Harvest in Tanzania

Jul 01, 2014 Category: Farmer Profile Tags: fertilizer maize smallholder solar training

Like many in Sadani village in Iringa District, Tanzania, Martha Mbwilo, 48, and her husband, Jeremiah Wisa, 54, had spent much of their lives farming. And like many farmers in their village, they never seemed to grow enough food to feed their family, no matter how hard they worked.

Martha and Jeremiah cultivated 4 acres of land, but were only able to harvest 15 sacks of maize. Although they were registered for subsidized fertilizer inputs, they we’re not able to receive fertilizer.

 

"In order to obtain subsidized inputs, you need to pay 50 percent of the cost up front,” Jeremiah explains. “We could not pay and so we could not even get the input subsidies."

Without fertilizer, Martha and Jeremiah could not produce enough food to feed themselves and their eight children. During the hunger season, they reduced their consumption to only one type of grain per day. Often, the entire family would go without food in the mornings.

Hoping for better maize harvests, Martha and Jeremiah decided to enroll with One Acre Fund in 2013. As One Acre Fund members, they attending group meetings and trainings where they learned basic agriculture techniques. Martha was chosen as the group leader for the Twitange farming group. Jeremiah and Martha say working in groups has benefitted them greatly, reducing the workload and allowing them to complete tasks on time.

Martha is also appreciative of the flexibility of One Acre Fund loans. "We have enjoyed One Acre Fund’s system because it enables each person to get a loan even if you do not have much money at one time." One Acre Fund requires a small pre-payment upon enrollment, and farmers enjoy a flexible repayment system.

Martha and Jeremiah are thrilled to have their seed and fertilizer delivered close to their home. Martha says, “Our village is far from town, and there’s big problem of transport, so if you buy inputs from town, it costs a lot. This year I have received inputs at home, which is better.”

Jeremiah and Martha have also enjoyed receiving a solar lamp from One Acre Fund. Jeremiah says, “We do not have electricity here in Sadani. Solar lamps provide us with bright light, which is especially useful for the children when they read at night. It also reduces the cost of buying kerosene.”

Since they received trainings from One Acre Fund on planting and how to micro-dose fertilizer, Martha and Jeremiah say they can see differences in their land’s performance. "Before, if we managed to buy fertilizer, we used six bags of planting fertilizer for two acres,” Martha recalls. “Now, by using measuring scoops, we have used only two bags of fertilizer per two acres."

Next season, Martha and Jeremiah plan to increase the number of acres they enroll with One Acre Fund. They also expect to be able to pay their children’s school fees in full after this harvest.  They have high hopes for the next season, and so do we.


Q&A With Pauline Otuuma: Field Officer in Siritanyi, Kenya


We met with field officer Pauline Otuuma at our field staff delivery of seed and fertilizer to learn a little more about her role at One Acre Fund.

What is your name and position in One Acre Fund? My name is Pauline Otuuma, and I’m a One Acre Fund field officer in Siritanyi, Kenya.

How long have you worked with One Acre Fund, and what were you doing before that? I have worked with One Acre Fund for one and a half years now. Previously, I worked for two years with the Bungoma Organization for Women Empowerment. All this time I wished for a chance to work with One Acre Fund because I have a passion for agriculture, and the idea of working with smallholder farmers was so irresistible. When the opportunity opened up to work at One Acre Fund, I grabbed it.

What do you like most about your job? My job offers a chance to interact with many people on a daily basis, and I like this a lot. I’ve learned to appreciate the different cultures, temperament and ideas that I encounter every day at work. I’ve become a better person as a result.

What activities do you carry out during a day in the field? I conduct training sessions with my farmers most mornings. I teach them how to plant, harvest and the best farming practices they can use to multiply their yields. I visit their farms to check on crops progress and give advice to farmers in case of a problem or encourage them when their work is good. I also collect repayments from group leaders that farmers pay toward their loans.

What do you enjoy most while at work? My best moment is when I visit a farmer’s farm and observe different crops growing beautifully. I like the fact that I can teach farmers and see results of my work on their farm. It is an amazing feeling when I see farmers staring proudly at their crops now, since I know that never used to happen before. I’m really glad to be part of this big structure, working hard to create a change in the lives of smallholder farmers.

What is the greatest achievement you’ve had at your work so far? Last year all my farmers improved the amount of harvest compared to other years. It was a great personal moment for me because I always dream of a village where every farmer is able to sustain their family from the harvest they achieve every year.

What benefits do you enjoy from your work at One Acre Fund? I’ve acquired important farming knowledge from my work at One Acre Fund, and my family benefits from it because I share every new thing I learn with them. My family has enough food now that lasts from one season to the next because the knowledge I share with them has led to an increased food production. My pay is beneficial to my family too. I’ve become an important breadwinner to them, and they look up to me when they are in need of anything.

Why is it important for One Acre Fund to supply its staff members with seeds and fertilizer too? The seed and fertilizer offer me an opportunity to experiment on my own farm using the trainings I teach farmers. I can experience the challenges that may arise on farmers’ farms by doing the same work on my farm. I can also experience results on my farm and confidently train farmers using first-hand information.

Who is your role model at your work? I have two role models. My first role model is my field manager called Consolata. She has molded me to what I am today. She is very patient and ensures I learn at my own pace. I want to be just like her in the future. My other role model is my field director Phoebe. She spends some time to visit me at my work, gives me feedback on my weak points and congratulates me when I excel. She is really concerned with my professional growth.

What challenges do you face in your work and how do you manage to overcome them? Training adults is a difficult task. It requires patience because they take more time to learn and forget more quickly. One Acre Fund has taught me good customer service values, and I apply them to overcome this challenge. I’m always prepared to repeat the same point over and over again until I’m sure they’ve understood.

What is your future plan for your work? I want to leave a lasting impression on the farmers I work with. I will be a happy person when I’m able to walk in my village and farmers say to me that, due to my hard work, they can now produce enough food for their families. I want to leave a mark so that hunger and poverty among farmers will be a thing of the past.


Photo Essay: Planting Trainings in Kenya

Mar 18, 2014 Category: Core Program Tags: kenya planting training

In 2013, One Acre Fund Kenya introduced a variety of new crop trainings to our farmers in response to a maize disease that caused severe crop loss near the end of 2012.

Farmer Sofia Auma harvests millet at the end of the 2013 growing season.

To learn more about the alternative crops we introduced, read our update here.

For the 2013 season, we did our best to provide our farmers with effective planting techniques for the new crops as quickly as we could. But, as was expected, our field staff and farmers experienced some challenges in the field with trying to teach and learn so many new planting methods so quickly.

After finishing planting last year, our innovations and core operations teams took to the task of looking at the new trainings we had developed in a flurry and refining them to both help our farmers better understand best practices for planting each crop and to plant the crops in a way that would facilitate the highest yields possible.

Field Officer Patrick Simiyu teaches farmers about properly spacing their bean seeds.

This year, instead of providing our farmers with all the planting trainings only after receiving their inputs, our field staff taught planting trainings on maize, beans, millet and sorghum before any farm inputs were delivered to the field. Then, in the weeks following input delivery, our field reiterated the lessons with interactive demonstrations.

Farmers in Victorious, Kenya, practice planting beans after listening to a training about how to plant bean seed.

“This year, we are putting more emphasis on the demonstration part of the training than before,” Field Officer Patrick Simiyu says. “Most of my farmers learn better when they actually try out what they hear from me in the farm. During demonstrations, farmers watch their colleagues try new skills and correct them when they don’t perform a particular task in the right way.”

At a training, farmers consult each other about how much fertilizer they have learned is the correct microdose for millet.

“It is important that I use the planting tools during the trainings, so the farmers can see the actual measurements when I speak of them,” Patrick says. “Since most of our farmers are illiterate, we use measurement tools that farmers can easily understand; like sticks, bottle caps and measuring strings. We also encourage using fingers lengths and palms to measure because farmers can easily use them in the farm.”

Field officers in Matete (right) and Victorious (left), Kenya, show farmers simple tools they can use to measure seed spacing and depth. Planting strings and measuring scoops (shown right) help farmers to space individual seeds at the best distances for germination, and measuring scoops help them keep from scorching their seedlings by adding too much fertilizer. Using their thumbs as a measurement (shown right) helps farmers know how deep in a furrow to plant their bean seed.

This year, we also adjusted the recommended spacing for maize and fertilizer application for our farmers’ beans.

A field in Milani, Kenya, ready for maize planting.  Ties on the planting string indicate the new spacing for where the farmers should dig holes for their maize seeds.

Despite a hairpin turn for both One Acre Fund and our farmers in 2013, we saw great success with alternative crops. This year, with an even stronger focus on the fine details in our trainings and with many farmers who are now in their second year of planting alternative crops, we hope to see even stronger harvests across Kenya.


FIeld Officer Leads Planting Training


One Acre Fund field officer Akim Wanyama talks to farmers about planting before they receive their seed at an input delivery site in Kenya. Photo by Hailey Tucker


How To Catch a Fish (Video)

Mar 10, 2014 Category: Field Videos Tags: field officers training

Grace Anzhiya, a One Acre Fund Field Officer, talks about how she leads farmer trainings in the field and the value of teaching farmers how to grow their way out of hunger.

 

 


Base Education in Kenya


Farmers in Kimwanga, Kenya, learn how to measure seed and fertilizer for planting at One Acre Fund's base education trainings. Photo by Kelvin Owino


Rwanda Country Director Eric Pohlman on Self-Reliance Radio


Click below to listen to the full interview!


Training Tools in Rwanda

Oct 18, 2013 Category: Field Photos Tags: input delivery rwanda training

A farmer in Gitwa, Rwanda, reads a training at one of the input delivery sites. Training handouts are one of the many tools One Acre Fund uses in the field. Photo by Francoise Umarishavu


Staffing Our Field: The Field Officer Hiring Process in Photos


As One Acre Fund grows, our staff—both in the office, but especially out in the field—must increase as well. And, with every 150 more farmers we work with, we need another field officer on the ground.

This makes field officers the number one hiring commodity for One Acre Fund.

Field officers work directly with our farmers, passing along trainings from our innovations department and helping collect repayment from farmer groups on their loans.

For 2013, One Acre Fund employed 506 field officers in Western Kenya.

For 2014, we are looking to employ more than 700 in the region.

To find the most dedicated and enthusiastic field officers, we turn to the communities we work in, and often, we look to our own farmers. Once a year, for three weeks in late July and early August, One Acre Fund field directors host field officer selection.

Field officer selection is an open application for anyone in Western Kenya who is interested in applying. This year, the rigorous application process narrowed a pool of more than one thousand applicants down to 200 of those best suited to join our field team.

The first step of the application process involves candidates filling out a basic job application form and taking an aptitude test. Field leaders score the applications by awarding points to applicants who meet set criteria. The criteria include items such as previous One Acre Fund experience and community volunteering. The aptitude test checks for math and logic skills as well as English abilities.

 

Field leaders sort through the applications and aptitude tests, sorting them into piles of candidates who will continue onto the next round and those who won’t. About 50 percent of the original applicants move onto the next round.

The second round of the application process involves each candidate interviewing for five to 10 minutes, one-on-one with a field leader.

“We look for someone who talks with passion,” Evans Shikuku Wafula, Sirisia assistant field director, says. “We want to find someone who is here to serve farmers, not just for employment.”

The interview includes a small role-play to test how candidates would interact with farmers in the field. Following the interviews, the field leaders cut 10 percent of the remaining candidates before a group activity later that day. The group activity acts as a way to see each candidate’s potential to work as part of a team.

The candidates who successfully pass the first two rounds of the application process are then invited to take part in three days of field activities. The field activities include some shadowing time, where candidates get to see a One Acre Fund field officer out in the field, as well as some field tests, where the candidates perform field officer tasks in front of the field officer he or she is shadowing.

Above, Steven Simiyu Wasike (second from right), sits in on a repayment meeting with Bungoma South field officer Kennedy Musoko (right) to learn what responsibilities Kennedy takes on.

Here Steven presents a training on the importance of crop diversity (left) to a farmer group (right) while Kennedy takes notes on Steven’s presentation.

"I have been a farmer with One Acre Fund for the last one year and managed to achieve huge success on my farm,” Steven says. “I applied to be a field officer to help spread the good knowledge I have learned from One Acre Fund to other farmers."

Following the field exercises, another portion of the candidates are cut. Of the remaining candidates, some will move onto an onboarding course, while others are asked if they are interested in being “reserve field officers.” The reserve field officers will be the first in line to be offered a job if a chosen candidate drops out.

The onboarding courses last eight to 10 days and take the new field officers through the nitty-gritty of their new responsibilities.

Each One Acre Fund district holds its own onboarding course, which allows the field officers to learn the particulars of their district, as well as their general roles as new One Acre Fund field staff.

After the onboarding course, the new field officers are official. And, with new skills and methods in hand, they soon begin enrolling farmers for the upcoming season.

Above, the new field officers for our Bungoma South district.

Photos by Hailey Tucker and Kelvin Owino


Compost Training in Rwanda


Farmers in Ngwa, Rwanda learn to prepare compost during a training. Photo by Francoise Umarishavu


Planting Training in Rwanda

Sep 04, 2013 Category: Field Photos Tags: fertilizer planting rwanda training

Farmers in Rwanda learn a planting training before receiving the fertilizer they purchased on credit. Photo by Hailey Tucker


A One Acre Fund Field Officer at Work in Rwanda


Rwanda field officer Vincent Mucyimba explains to farmers the importance of waiting to harvest their maize at the proper time during a weekly meeting. Photo by Francoise Umarishavu


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