|Water Sanitation Case Studies and Analyses (Peace Corps)|
|Republic of Sierra Leone|
Collaborating agencies: Peace Corps, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
In 1979, Volunteers were still agriculture extensionists, but served in the newly-created Small Farmers Project under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), formerly MANR. The project was administered by a steering committee composed of an MAF Officer (a National Coordinator), the APCD/Ag, and the CRS project officer. (CRS was the primary funding agency.) (CMP FY1981.)
Thirty-two PCVs and one MAF Agricultural Instructor (A.I.) were assigned to the project, which started in the Southern and Eastern Regions. Project A.I.s (Peace Corps and MAF) were assigned to a chiefdom or section of a chiefdom. They were responsible for recruiting interested farmers; granting them tools and PL 480 Food for Work to enable them to construct irrigation control structures in their swamps, surveying their cleared swamps; pegging the drains and bunds; supervising the work to see that it was being done properly; teaching farmers how to better prepare their land for rice cultivation; supplying loans for seed rice and, when needed, fertilizer loans; teaching farm families how to grow rice effectively under irrigated conditions; introducing improved means of weeding, harvesting, threshing, winnowing, tying, and storing rice; and advising farmers on marketing their surpluses. The' also worked with entire farm families to introduce improved varieties of other staple crops and teach new cultural practices. They helped farmers form associations that could help them meet needs collectively which they could not meet individually. (CMP FY1981.)
The A.I.s did all of these jobs with the assistance of trainee MAF agrotechnicians. Graduates of agricultural training centers were assigned to PCVs as counterparts for a period not to exceed two years. Volunteers had one to three agrotechnicians assigned to them. (CMP FY1981.)
Recruiting criteria for agricultural extension agents in 1980 were the same as those for l978-79, with the exception that now ten could be women and there could be one married couple. The training period had increased to ten weeks of intensive technical, extension, language, and cross-cultural training in a rural village site. (TAC, 1980.)
Since the Small Farmers Project was so successful, it was expanded in 1980 to cover the entire country. CRS planned to fund the project for another three years.
Starting in 1980, Volunteers were to provide on-the-job training in technical and extension fields to 103 agrotechnicians per year and work with 1,000 farmers each year to develop over 1,500 new acres of inland valley swamps. In, particular, Peace Corps planned to target female farmers for extension efforts in vegetable and rice production. Women, who did half the agricultural work, had received little technical assistance from the MAF extension service. Peace Corps wanted to introduce time- and labor-saving implements and practices to these women. By directing their efforts at the gardening which women did, Peace Corps aimed to increase both women's incomes and the nutritional content of their families' diets. (Project Summary, 1978.)
In 1981, the agriculture program, with almost entirely skill-trained Volunteers doing extension work in swamp rice cultivation, accounted for almost one-third of PC/SL's Volunteers. It had become a successful model in generalist programming. The Volunteers' scope of work had expanded from extension work in inland valley swamp rice development alone to include other crops, as well as work in forming farmers associations. Female Volunteers had brought a new orientation toward working with female farmers. (CMP Review, 1979.)
In 1982 the Small Farmers Project involved 400 families in extension activities affecting 600 acres, 300 of which were developed that year.