By Maria Miller, NFU Education Director

The 75th National Farmers Union (NFU) 2011 All-States Leadership Camp in Colorado has begun! Sunday was a day of getting acquainted and learning about the cooperative spirit.

Yesterday, NFU Vice President Claudia Svarstad spoke to the campers about her experiences with the Farmer-to-Farmer Exchange Program NFU participates in. She visited Senegal, a country in northwest Africa, in February to work with locals and discuss how farming organizations in the country can be more effective. She said, “Fifty-eight percent of Senegal’s population is rural,” and that 77.5 percent of the work force is involved in agriculture. Most farmers are subsistence farmers or raise cash crops. Svarstad showed campers a photo of a peanut press commonly used in Senegal and shared the question that was asked of her-what advice could she offer to help them be more productive? Sandy soil can make farming in Senegal difficult, but the poor infrastructure makes repairs for farmers and fishermen nearly impossible. She said, “Hunger is a really serious issue in these fishing communities,” because their access to fish vanishes if a boat breaks down. Infrastructure, government policy, and rural leadership development are the three main things agriculture in Senegal needs. For more information about the camp or becoming involved in the Farmer-to-Farmer Exchange Program, click here.

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