Youth Show, “Nobility of Spirit is not Matter of Age”

Oct. 19 | 2021

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In Mali it’s typical for children to enjoy being among the adults during meetings or village discussions, the adults think otherwise and the youth are often quieted or told to go somewhere else. Now that’s changing as Mr. Yacouba Diarra, the President of the Bougouni Farmers’ Cooperative, encourages the children to join the adults in education, asking questions, and agricultural practices provided by Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) . 


“Children are the future and it is vital to involve them early,” said Diarra. 


Since April 2010, Diarra has been an advocate for his community to take advantage of training provided by F2F volunteers. Insisting that education can have a large impact on the production of agriculture, slowly his community and several others in the area began to take notice of the impact. The F2F program that is implemented by Winrock International and the Browse and Grass Growers Cooperative has directly worked with more than 5,300 farmers and continues to grow to this day. Already, the training provided to their parents has started to change the perception of youth and their ability to create new opportunities for themselves and their community. 


four youth are chopping green material in the shade of a building
Youth preparing green material for silage during a F2F training.


Diarra’s son, Mamadou, participated with other kids in F2F trainings their parents were attending. Since then they had exposure to fish farming, organizational capacity building, small ruminants and cattle husbandry, livestock feed improvement and entrepreneurship. The training had planted a seed for Mamadou to develop an immense interest in entrepreneurship. An early introduction to different possibilities within rural communities through video training could lead to others to do the same. 


Additionally, Mamadou was motivated to form a youth group where they were able to join their first remote training. Led by United States volunteer Neelam Canto-Lugo, they dipped their toes into the business world where they learned the important aspects of entrepreneurship and virtual business. Neelam supported and encouraged the students to write their own business plans focusing on Poultry Farming as a Business and Small Ruminant Fattening


The group worked together to write a business plan specifically to earn funding for solar panel equipment to be able to provide the community center with reliable electricity. The business plan allowed for a small business to provide funds for the equipment which allows for the whole community to benefit from the improvement. 


The Chief of the village was impressed with the youth group’s vision, passion, motivation and confidence that he gave them 1ha (about 10,000 square metres or 2 and a half acres) of land with the promise of more in the future. 


four youth pose next to solar equipment
Solar equipment provided to the youth after writing a business plan.


The encouragement has fueled the youth to motivate the adults to continue to join remote trainings. For some adults, they have been reluctant to join because of challenges with a reliable connection, technology and minimal knowledge of video communications. Without volunteers being able to meet with participants in person, it’s the only way to continue training and follow up. 


“My God, nobility of spirit is not depending on the age,” said Salif Diarra, an adult member of the community. 


The youth are now able to teach the adults that technology is nothing to be intimidated by as it can open many new opportunities for them. Along with their typical schooling, the group has formed goals to continue their training and expand services to adults to access the agricultural training in an area that does not otherwise have access. Taking advantage of the training has only been possible with their internet connection, laptops, F2F volunteers and their own exceptional motivation and curiosity. 


“Their informal connections to F2F volunteers they have created a new vision for themselves, their families, and their future,” said Mali Country Director, Bara Kassambara. 


9 members of the youth group together outside
The youth group in Bougouni.