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Down the rabbit hole: Anne organizes a smallholder training program

A few weeks back Moyee’s supply chain chief headed to Ethiopia to help organize and host Moyee’s very first farmer’s training program. No stranger to Ethiopia’s coffee regions, she thought she knew what she was getting into, but she quickly fell through the rabbit hole. We glimpse into her notebook.

Thinking about a vocational training program, my first thoughts were of a hotel conference room. You know, a big beamer, a few people manning the nametags box, 2 hours earlier, sitting outside the door greeting guests as they arrive. For our Call the Farmer training program we were going to have none of that. But how do you prepare a 2-day seminar for 102 smallholders not used to following seminars?

A day before the program I arrived in the Bonga region with Kilil, Moyee’s outgrower manager and trainer. Kilil had prepared a beautiful and professional program with lots of interesting handouts for the farmers. But in a country like Ethiopia and a region like Bonga it’s hard to nail down all the practicalities in advance. Things here change by the minute. So we arrived a day early to firm up our plans.

Kilil teaching
Kilil teaching

In Ethiopia, that means you start your day by shaking hands with important local officials and explain the nature of the Call the Farmer program. In a single day we visited 6 different towns, stopping by all the important venues like the Agricultural Office and the Municipality. We talked coffee, chatted about Moyee, informed them of our close collaboration with the local cooperative farm Tega & Tula, etcetera. A few of the towns indicated they could provide trainers as well, a pleasant surprise. They were welcomed additions to our local knowledge pool.

Next we needed a location to host the training program. Kilil drove by a local community school where the kids, spotting our four-wheel drive, formed a circle around our truck. Kilil asked one of them to call their headmaster. Fifteen minutes later we had a venue (one of the classrooms) plus coffee, tea and lunch.

Trainers check. Venue check. Notoriously difficult to make plans from afar, when you’re able to meet face-to-face Ethiopia is the easiest place to do business in the world.

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So we were ready, or so I thought. We had made plans for 100 outgrower farmers, but how did I actually know all 100 would show up. Kilil was relaxed, told me not to worry. They were all aware of the time and date. As for the location, word in small towns travel fast, especially with the communication talents of our local friends. And the ones who had forgotten? Well, Kilil said, they’d hear the noise made by all the others. In a village it’s hard to lose track of 100 farmers.

With a few hours to spare, all I had to do was wait, relax and wait for everyone to show up. Which is exactly what I did. Read more here.