On this global day celebrating the economic, cultural and social achievements of women, NCBA CLUSA is celebrating the women who work tirelessly in the field on our international development projects to build a better world and a more inclusive economy for everyone.
We honor and recognize the contributions of women everywhere on this International Women’s Day as we work toward a more gender equal world—free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination.
Keep reading to learn how the women behind our work in the field #BreaktheBias.
Senior Field Coordinator
Farmer-to-Farmer Program, Ecuador
Originally from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, I studied Agronomy at EARTH University in Costa Rica and earned a master’s degree in International Development at Palacký University in the Czech Republic. Prior to Farmer-to-Farmer, I worked in community development and social management for renewable energy projects in Honduras. In 2018, I started working at NCBA CLUSA as a Field Coordinator in Honduras. I moved to Ecuador in 2020 to assist F2F, also as a Field Coordinator. Since then, I have worked with 10 cacao and coffee associations.
This job has helped me better understand the challenges that producers face in order to bring produce to our tables. By working with so many coffee producers, I have learned to appreciate and value quality coffee, and realize that eating a delicious chocolate bar represents a long and complex process developed by producers in rural areas.
In this role, I also appreciate the hard work of volunteers who selflessly support farmers and share their knowledge. And I should highlight that I work with nine other beautiful and smart ladies from the U.S., Ecuador, Honduras and Perus, as well as three gentlemen from Ecuador and Honduras. I have always felt like a citizen of the world after living in four different countries (Ecuador, Czech Republic, U.S. and Costa Rica) and enjoy multicultural environments.
Farmer-to-Farmer Program, Peru
In my role with NCBA CLUSA’s Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Peru, I help cacao and coffee cooperatives overcome their weaknesses and strengthen their staff and members’ competencies. With flexibility and assertive communication, I coordinate co-op staff and international agrobusiness volunteers to work collaboratively to improve their skills, management and action plans to increase results.
Prior to Farmer-to-Farmer, I worked in analyzing, training and developing the capacity and work relations for institutions like the Peruvian Ministry of Environment, the Peruvian Academy of the Judiciary, and local governments to improve their performance, outcomes and impact. As an undergrad I assisted rural, peri-urban and urban socioeconomic research, which made me aware of the power of knowledge and methodology to implement change and benefit large populations.
I am a professional psychologist with a master’s degree in Organizational Development from Saint Joseph’s University. During my free time, I enjoy experimenting with new YouTube workout videos.
Deputy Chief of Party
Feed the Future Senegal – Kawolor
An agricultural engineer specializing in plant production, Fatou Kiné Diop Sall has 20 years of experience in development, 11 of them with NCBA CLUSA. She started her career in the field of agricultural research before devoting herself to development as an agricultural and rural advisor to grassroots communities in Senegal. Recruited as an agricultural advisory specialist for the USAID-funded Feed The Future Yaajeende project, she managed the design and adaptation of intervention strategies and coordinated field activities. Later, Fatou was selected to manage NCBA CLUSA’s CultiVert franchise model, a social enterprise that professionalizes local entrepreneurs working to provide solutions for healthy and prosperous Senegalese populations.
In 2018, she joined the staff of the Feed the Future Senegal Kawolor project and was promoted to Deputy Director. In this role, she leads the project’s technical approach as it pivoted to a market driven and entrepreneurial focus fully engaged with the private sector in Senegal.
Throughout her career, Fatou has worked alongside women to improve the living conditions of households in peri-urban and rural areas. She is a role model for women and girls in the agriculture and development sectors in Senegal and around the world.
Annabell Guzmán Rodríguez
Farmer-to-Farmer Program, Honduras
Since 2000, I have been working in the rural world very close to farmers, which inspires me every day to work and be part of the change—raising my voice and creating opportunities for other women and men. In my role with NCBA CLUSA’s Farmer-to-Farmer Program, I am able to lead that advocacy process in Nicaragua and Honduras.
This experience has widened my perspective and strengthened my capacities in diverse topics such as gender inclusion, advocacy, economic development, agri-food systems, sustainable production and inclusive businesses. I enjoy having the opportunity to develop win-win relationships between the private sector and farmer organizations—developing innovative projects that strengthen the participation and decision-making of women and youth in the produce value chain.
Outside of work, I enjoy cooking and having cultural exchanges with my friends and colleagues around the world.
Yajaira Henriquez Vargas
Project Administrative Assistant
USAID Safe Agriculture/Food Export Program
My journey in international development work started at an early age with volunteer work. Like all beginnings, it was difficult, but I was committed to growing personally and professionally. I now have a degree in Business Administration, specialty in NLP/COACH and master’s degree in Project Management, and am currently working with NCBA CLUSA’s USAID-funded Safe Agriculture/Food Export Program (SAFE), known locally as Progana.
Over the years, I have worked on many projects including Junta Castilla La Marcha (JCM), trocaire, UNHCR, European Commission, Madrid Commission (CAM) and Border Solidarity, among others. I was part of USAID’s Youth Alert project before joining the Progana project in the Dominican Republic.
Through all of these experiences, I have met extraordinary people and been part of strong teams dedicated to fight for the best and be the best—all linked by a common purpose: serving those in need. This is what I love most about my job. Being able to say, “we achieved our objectives and continue to move forward” feels good. So does hearing our clients say that the project has helped them achieve their goals, and to grow. Serving people who need support is the ultimate feeling. I’m thankful to NCBA CLUSA for the opportunity to participate in Progana. Not only is it a fulfilling job, but there’s also a sense of solidarity among the team involved in the project.
Farmer-to-Farmer Program, Peru
My interest in agriculture is rooted in my family’s involvement in farming, but my career was sparked when, as a law student, I witnessed my uncle struggling to sell his potato harvest, The price offered did not even cover his expenses, but he was not in a position to negotiate. Since then, my goal—in addition to supporting my parents—was to generate solutions for smallholder farmers’ problems. I now have 11 years of experience in development, and hold a law degree from Catholic University of Saint Mary, MBA from Pontific Catholic University of Peru and master’s degree in Business, Environment and Social Responsibility from the University of Leeds-UK.
My first job in a leading role was at Coopain Cabana, a cooperative formed by organic quinoa farmers. During my time in this position I was responsible for achieving two milestones: 1.) securing a contract with an important European company, which is still one of the cooperative’s best clients, and 2.) introducing Peruvian organic quinoa to the Asian market for the first time. I will always remember this cooperative because they trusted my capacity and made me responsible not only for commercialization, but also for coordination with national and international organizations.
My role at NCBA CLUSA as Country Director for the Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Peru has presented me with the challenge of continuing the program under pandemic circumstances. Reinventing F2F assignments as we know them was a challenge, but the professionalism of the F2F team in Peru and the support of the F2F team at headquarters made it possible.
USAID CDP Creating an Environment for Cooperative Expansion (Kenya)
As NCBA CLUSA’s Country Director for Kenya, Lydia Omamo leads NCBA CLUSA’s USAID-funded Cooperative Development Project (CDP) Creating an Environment for Cooperative Expansion (CECE) activities and USAID Empowered Youth project in Kenya. She holds a master’s degree in Ethics and Governance from Mount Kenya University and a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Agribusiness. Currently she is pursuing her Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE) certification and PhD in Arbitration and Nouthetic Counseling.
With USAID CECE, Lydia is working to achieve three goals for cooperatives in Kenya: 1.) improving enabling environments, 2.) enhancing support to cooperatives, and 3.) improving business performance of cooperatives. She has made her greatest impact on the country’s legal and regulatory framework. Lydia has created linkages and partnerships between Kenya’s national and county governments, cooperative support organizations, co-ops and other stakeholders, rallying support for the bill and facilitating its passage. Kenya’s cooperative law was last amended 20 years ago, making this a significant milestone for the country’s co-op movement.
Previously under USAID CDP, Lydia spent five years as Food Security and Cooperative Specialist in Narok and Embu Counties. In this role, she mobilized Maasai women into food production and utilization groups who produced cereals for consumption and sale. Previously, Maasai women were not allowed to contribute to decision-making. But after long discussions and capacity building, both men and women are now able to attend meetings and make decisions about their families and homes.
USAID Sustainable Vanilla for People and Nature – Mafatoky
Zoelimalala Ramanase is Project Director for NCBA CLUSA’s USAID-funded Sustainable Vanilla for People and Nature (Mafatoky) project in Madagascar, a public-private partnership co-funded by McCormick and implemented within the Madagascar-Sava Region—the vanilla capital of the world. The Mafatoky activity helps vanilla producers’ co-ops generate sustainable incomes from high quality, certified vanilla. The activity also promotes environmentally-friendly agricultural techniques and puts more than 2,000 hectares of land under improved, sustainable farming practices while targeting 3,000 farmers.
Before joining NCBA CLUSA, Zoely had 25 years of development experience in natural resources management, humanitarian assistance and community development with 10 years of consulting experience in Madagascar, Malawi, Burundi, Republic Democratic of Congo and Uganda.
Zoely’s areas of expertise include private sector linkages, environmental compliance, natural resources management, food security, community outreach, shared resources joint solution, land tenure, climate change and project evaluation. She is a Malagasy native speaker and fluent in French and English. She has the communication and multidisciplinary teamwork skills to work in difficult, complex political and ethnic environments. Zoely is an alumnus of the Environmental Leadership Program at the University of California, Berkeley. She loves nature and communities, and would like to see both thriving!
National Technical Coordinator
Junta Agroempresarial Dominicana (JAD), a partner of USAID Safe Agriculture/Food Export Program
Soraya Rib-Bejaran has worked to train and improve the results of farmers and field technicians since 1987. Since 2009, she has supported technology transfer through the Farm Field Schools (FFS) tool developed by the FAO. She has held two roles with NCBA CLUSA’s USAID-funded Safe Agriculture/Food Export (SAFE) program in the Dominican Republic.
In 2018, as National Technical Coordinator with Junta Agroempresarial Dominicana (JAD), she adapted the FFS to support extension work in an experiential way and achieve a better and greater adoption of the SAFE promoted technologies, improving the quality and increased the productivity of milk and beef. Through Vívelo en Progana, extension agents and farmers have developed a renewed interest in the livestock activity, generating greater synergy and satisfaction and achieving sustainable results. To support this training, Soraya led the design of 15 thematic teaching materials. The Livestock Field Schools made it possible to achieve key project goals quickly and successfully. Then, between November 2020 and 2021, Soraya served as Senior Manager of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) for SAFE. In this role, she coordinated the evaluation of continuous improvements at clients’ farm and in milk collection centers. She also helped NCBA CLUSA secure a merit-based extension to continue the work of the SAFE project.
Soraya is a daughter, sister, mother to Jean-Carlo and Ivana, and Jose’s wife of 32 years. She loves to learn new things and discover new places. She is an agricultural engineer with master’s degrees in Business Administration and Applied Economics.
Ruth Sinchi Villcas
Farmer-to-Farmer Program, Peru
I was born and raised in Peru by small-scale coffee farmers who have worked in the coffee world since I was I child. In January 2021, I joined NCBA CLUSA, which gave me the opportunity to reconnect with the cooperative model in my country and the important role it plays to represent and support coffee and cacao farmers.
As a Field Coordinator for the Farmer-to-Farmer program in Peru’s San Martin region, I have had the chance to support both U.S. and in-country volunteers who work closely with cooperatives and associations to solve specific needs.
Being able to contribute to the development of co-ops and other organizations is not only an important accomplishment for me, but also positively impacts farmers. Understanding the coffee and cacao landscape in my country has given me the chance to learn what realities the sectors face and how international development can contribute to meeting those needs.