Community Agricultural Support Officers (CASOs)
Crystal ball gazing in 2014 helped us to understand that if we were to expand our agricultural projects beyond the successes in Managhat and in to more communities we would need agriculturally trained staff on the team.
So we interviewed candidates from Waangwaray, Managhat and Malangi communities and selected 4 young men to send on a 2 year course on Livestock and Agriculture for Livestock course at the Agricultural Institute in Bacho.
The 4 students completed their training in November 2016 and Mr Marceli, our agricultural officer, then enhanced their knowledge by training them on crop and vegetable growing until then were ready to take on the mantel of a CASO in their own community. The 4th CASO has taken on responsibility for the edible gardens programme and will take on the tree project with Mr Marceli when it gets funding.
Mr Marceli is a hugely knowledgeable farmer and a great trainer but he is not a man-manger nor one for the paper work and is close to retirement age. So we decided to recruited an Agricultural Farm Manager called Robbie to start of the succession planning. He job is to manage the team, document the training, liaise with the community leaders and those being training. It is a big job that is only going to get bigger so we are delighted to have him on board.
Training are hugely motivated and proud to be able to share their knowledge with their community and have now begun to do so. So welcome to the team.
By providing training to local farmers the CASO's are able to help the farmers improve their yields and diversify their farming activities and be so doing improve their income security. However most of the farmers will always be dependant on rainfall. Farmers we have trained in Managhat have been able to afford to save crops back either to sell at a higher price or to keep in case the rains fail this year, which they mostly have. In previous years this would not have happened and the farmers would have sold their crops as soon as harvesting them. This is a position we want all farmers to be in.