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National Farmers Union Member and Farmer-to-Farmer Veteran Returns to Zambia for a Third Time

Bob Shumaker, center, visits NCBA CLUSA headquarters ahead of his assignment with wife Yasinta, left, and friend

October 15, 2015

Bob Shumaker will return to Zambia for a third time to work with the Chipata District Farmers Association (CDFA) on soil fertility and management specifically focusing on peanuts. He first began work with the group in 2012 training on vegetable production and returned soon after to establish a cooperative based on the seven international co-op principles.

On this trip he will share his expertise in soil testing, management and fertilization for peanuts, including blended fertilizer demonstrations for CDFA farmers.

Shumaker first heard about the Farmer-to-Farmer program through his membership in the National Farmers Union – one of NCBA CLUSA’s member organizations. And after his first trip, he came back to volunteer again and again.

“It is the real thing. Hands on, hit the ground running, and finish with a sense of accomplishment!… I can tell you I miss them and will be happy to again be working towards a common goal,” said Shumaker.

In total, Shumaker has gone on four assignments through NCBA CLUSA’s Farmer-to-Farmer program, including one with his wife, who he met in Zambia, in 2013 to lead trainings in Senegal for women farmers. The two worked with 150 women in two groups, training them in marketing and market access, including skills like financial literacy, business plan development and communication strategies.

“I go back because we make a difference. NCBA [CLUSA] sets the parameters of the responsibility, and just takes care of the details, which allows you to get things done,” he said. The two to three week Farmer-to-Farmer assignments are requested by organizations on the ground and are fully funded through the project, volunteers simply bring their expertise to groups who have a specific need.

In addition to soil fertility, Shumaker will be checking in on the cooperative he helped to form years ago, meeting with the cooperative leaders and discussing some of the management issues. He hopes to see the same energy and life in the cooperative as when he left.

“It is an awesome adventure. You learn about people, a different place and life,” Shumaker said, when asked if he would recommend the program. Mr. Shumaker lives in Alaska and has raised livestock for over 20 years and farmed vegetables for over 15 years. He is the president of the Alaska Farmers Union.

The Zambia Famer-to-Farmer assignments are implemented by NCBA CLUSA through a Volunteers for Economic Growth (VEGA) Special Program Support Project (SPSP). In Senegal, NCBA CLUSA implements this program under an agreement with ACDI/VOCA. The Farmer-to-Farmer program is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). To learn more about NCBA CLUSA’s Farmer-to-Farmer program, click here.

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