ACDI/VOCA’s much-lauded Farmer-to-Farmer program in Egypt began in 1987 and ended in 1996. It supported increased investment, productivity and income generation in nearly half of Egypt’s governorates and contributed markedly to the expansion of the country’s agricultural sector. F2F provided technical assistance to farmers and extension agents in farm management, production and post-harvest handling covering a wide variety of fruit, vegetable, livestock, honey and dairy products.
It targeted 600 lead farmers, mainly in the Nile Delta and newly reclaimed desert areas, who in turn transferred their technical knowledge to 12,000 neighboring farmers. During all 3 phases, 289 volunteer assignments were completed and 290 farmers and extension agents traveled to the U.S. for study tours and on-farm technical training.
Under Phase I (1987-90), ACDI subcontracted to VOCA to conduct 57 volunteer assignments for technical assistance in areas including herd health and dairy, fruit, vegetable and honey production. In a survey of 50 Egyptian farmers who participated in the program, 58 percent said that their income had increased by 10-70 percent as a direct result of following volunteers’ recommendations.
As part of the first phase, ACDI implemented its Loading Dock and Laboratory Project (1989)—conceived by a F2F volunteer. This consisted of establishing a fully equipped and supplied field veterinary laboratory, and then training one veterinarian and three technicians in the collection, storage and analysis of blood and urine samples, and the detection, diagnosis, and prevention of livestock diseases. To reduce animal loss, the project also designed and constructed three low-cost loading docks, which could easily be replicated in other livestock markets throughout Egypt.
In 1990, USAID approved a three-year, second program phase (1990-93), which consisted of 109 volunteer assignments fielded by VOCA, and U.S.-based, on-farm training for 170 Egyptian farmers provided by ACDI. The volunteer assignments addressed herd health, artificial insemination, pruning and beekeeping for hundreds of middle-sized and larger farmers. Most of the volunteers conducted village meetings and on-farm demonstrations that also included smallholder farmers. Another component in this phase focused on training women residing in the newly reclaimed desert areas in food processing and basic business skills. Selected female participants traveled to the U.S. for additional training.
Under the Farmer-to-Farmer Phase III (1993-96), ACDI conducted 123 month-long volunteer assignments. In addition, 120 Egyptian farmers and extension agents traveled to the U.S. for field visits and training. The program also launched in-country participant training that sent farmers from one region to spend time with those in another who were applying technologies newly learned from the American volunteers. The program worked directly with 600 leading farmers, who in turn disseminated knowledge to an estimated 12,000 peers through on-farm demonstrations, village seminars and word of mouth. A field survey found that as a result of the project incomes of participating farmers increased by an average of $19,000.
From 1994-98, the Rural Cottage Industries Development Project (RCID)—another F2F-inspired project—provided loans and business training services to women entrepreneurs in the New Lands, increasing their participation in economic development. There were seminars in marketing, feasibility studies, pricing, distributing, packaging and project planning for small enterprises. RCID also assisted the Alexandria Association of Home Economics, an Egyptian NGO, in project design and implementation. RCID, funded by USAID through the National Council of Negro Women, achieved its targets in credit delivery, microenterprise development and local institution-building and had significant impact. The loan program had an astonishing 100 percent repayment rate, with 50 percent of clients reporting increased business activity and 80 percent reporting increased facility with pricing, costing and marketing.