That the Work Shop was a success I know because the farmers said so. Though I can not understand, I can catch my name.
Communication is challenging at best and here, with the farmers without email addresses and street addresses and me not speaking their language, even harder. A fellow classmate at Alliance française said to never get angry in a foreign country. I understand better, such that perhaps it will be less frustrating to set up another work shop proposed for November next, after harvest.
Meetings here start and end with prayer and all participants introduce themselves, including yours truly in Kis…stutter. There was a presentation on ‘How to do business with the World Food Programme’ given by the Programme chair (more needs be said about this remarkable Tanzanian). A reiteration of what the Food Programme requires of farmers if their grain is to be purchased: the honouring of signed contracts, quality product, and accurate and a transparent paper trail and, yes, more timely payment on WFP’s part.
There was a tea break with donuts and a chance for producers, separated by distance and rough roads, to talk to each other. (This was what I really wanted them to be able to do.) There was a too long presentation by the recently hired non-government agency who will be ‘training’ all these growers in WFP procedures. (The time keeper appointed at the start of the meeting must have fallen asleep.) I am to work with this agency, go into the field with them and generally liaise between all three groups.
We went by bus to the warehouse of a successful farming group. Their chairman explained how they find markets, make small loans, encourage savings deposits, and source funds to build this new office and meeting room. They are waiting to hear if their bid for a government grant to construct a larger warehouse has been successful.
There was dialogue throughout the day and solid opportunity to learn grower to grower. At the end, before all the long bus rides home, a good lunch too.