I posted a few weeks ago on the Borgen Project blog about the 2Seeds Network, an innovative non-profit organization working to increase food and income security in rural African communities in partnership with recent US university graduates. Marc Dominianni is a 2Seeds Network Project Coordinator working on the Lutindi Project in Tanzania. In part 1, he provides insight into the nuts and bolts of his work in Tanzania as a 2Seeds Network Project Coordinator leading his community toward food and income security.
How did you become involved with the 2Seeds Network?
As I was finishing up my senior year at Cornell, I spent time shopping around for employment in the developing world. I was offered paid positions in places like Dhaka and Quito, but after attending 2Seeds’s nominated candidates weekend in Boston, the organization and Tanzania felt like a good fit. I knew that fundraising for my project would be challenging but rewarding, and the rustic lifestyle in an East African village was precisely what I was craving. So I signed on to be a project coordinator for the year, and here I am.
What are the values and goals of the 2Seeds Network?
2Seeds is founded upon and operates within six cores values: humility, partnership, compassion, results, resource stewardship, and self-awareness. They are complementary in application, though my favorite, if one could choose, is certainly partnership. In many cases, my partner and I bring hard analytical and management skills to the table, while our Tanzanian partners bring local knowledge and hands-on experience. These talents, when coupled with our deepening relationships, allow us to effectively address the organization’s mission of tackling food and income security.
What is the goal of the Lutindi project?
The mission of the Lutindi Project is to improve the market access of members of Umoja wa Wakulima (UW, “Unity of Farmers”) through sustainable means. We envision each UW farmer growing individually, learning independently and together with fellow members, and ultimately obtaining food and income security by working collectively to access larger and/or profitable sales outlets. Further details on the Lutindi project and its progress are available on its blog and twitter: <thelutindiproject.wordpress.com>.
How are you (and your team) working to achieve your goals?
We have our work organized into initiatives addressing several large concepts applicable to Lutindi established by project coordinators during previous years. Here’s how they break down, simply:
– Income security through a coordinated planting and harvesting calendar to allow for the consistent supply of high quality produce to regional buyers. To ensure quality, inputs are controlled, under circumstances where farmers may choose to receive individualized in-kind micro-loans for fertilizer, some chemicals, and applicators if they’ve completed best-use trainings.
– Market access through collective group sales of crops both from the coordinated calendar and from beyond it. It’s easier for twenty people to share the cost of a trip to market than for each farmer to travel alone. We’re also collecting data about which crops sell for what price when, and pooling contact information for buyers and middlemen so that farmers can coordinate sales independently.
– Knowledge management through trainings on best practices, pest identification, chemical use, safety principles, etc. We are establishing experimental plots to allow farmers to learn about specialized, high-value crops such as leeks and broccoli.
– Group Management through empowerment and self-ownership. The group’s executive board calls meetings and establishes agendas, and even if we lead an item or two, it’s important that they learn to lead themselves. When necessary, we delegate tasks and responsibilities to the group’s various committees and assist with financial management.
In terms of actionable tasks, all of this translates to hours and hours spent walking around and talking to people and checking out their farms.
– Kat Henrichs
Source: 2Seeds Network