More than a million farmers and workers follow training to meet UTZ certification standards. We cannot train them all ourselves. That is why we use the train-the-trainer approach. Kwame Osei, UTZ Country Representative for Ghana and Nigeria, explains how it works in practice.
Practical and hands-on
With 100,000 members, Kuapa Kokoo cocoa cooperative in Ghana is a big enterprise. When 10.000 of its members became UTZ certified, the challenge was to roll out the knowledge and skills necessary for certification within a year. So how did we do it?
“The first step was to train all cooperative staff on measures necessary for certification,”says Kwame. “Then we spent four days training 40 field officers on certification and facilitation skills, to help them teach farmers more effectively.” Each training session is based on a needs assessment, so the focus is always on what’s needed most at individual cooperatives.
In the train-the-trainer model, knowledge and skills are passed on in a cascade system. Each field officer is responsible for a geographical area, and can have upwards of 2,000 farmers to train. They start by leading two-hour training sessions with 15-20 farmers’ group leaders, often using their farms as demonstration plots.
“These are very practical sessions,” says Kwame. “For example, when they are training on control of pests and diseases, they come with samples of diseased pods so farmers can see exactly what they are looking at.”
Each field officer develops their own training schedule based on the needs of the community, such as running sessions in the evening so women can attend. Once the group leaders have the skills and knowledge they need, they can then teach farmers in their local group.
A Bottom-Up Approach
The whole process takes place within a year, and is subject to constant monitoring and evaluation. The year is split into four blocks of learning:
- management (empowering farmers to professionalise their farms)
- good agricultural practices (improving crop quality)
- working conditions (improving workers’ rights)environment.
Sessions are scheduled based on seasons, such as teaching improved harvesting methods just before harvest begins.
Train-the-trainer is a bottom-up approach. By identifying the needs of farmers before you begin, you can meet their needs and engage more effectively,
says Kwame. “As UTZ, we cannot be everywhere. But the train-the-trainer model allows us to reach many more farmers directly. Also, building staff capacity at cooperatives means their business runs better too.”
One of the participants in the training of Kwame is Fiona Efua Brew-Sam. She is a field extension officer at Kuapa Kooko and describes her experience as:
I didn’t know about different training methods and learning cycles. Any time I’m to train farmers on a topic I just prepare my material without considering the kind of trainer I am, how to deliver and what to expect from my audience. This training has been an eye opener for me.
Kwame has already trained more than 100 field officers this year. With the training of trainers system, thousands of farmers are gaining the skills they need to achieve a better income and protect the environment.
“I love the way the system transfers knowledge and empowers farmers,” adds Kwame. “There are visible improvements almost straightway. It’s a great way to make sure farmers can become entrepreneurs and run their farms as a professional business.”