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Source: American Agri-Women news release sent via AgPR--the news distribution service for agriculture

Lisa Campion, an attorney with Martin & Associates in Barre, Vt., a resident of Montpelier, Vt., graduate of Vermont Law School and Michigan State University, and member of American Agri-Women and past President of Sigma Alpha Sorority, will travel to Uganda for two weeks to share her technical skills and expertise with local farmers.

Campion's assignment is part of Catholic Relief Services' Farmer-to-Farmer (FTF) program that promotes economic growth, food security, and agricultural development in East Africa. This is her first time travelling to Africa and being part of the Farmer-to-Farmer Program.

"It is an honor to be the first new volunteer in Uganda with the Farmer-to-Farmer Program. When I heard about this program through American Agri-Women, I knew I wanted help make a difference in the lives of the farmers and the agriculture industry in Uganda.

I am looking forward to providing technical expertise to the farmers that need support in the leadership and management of their farming cooperative. The Farmer-to-Farmer Program will allow me to share my experience and expertise and give back to others," Campion said.

Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the five-year program matches the technical assistance of U.S. farmers, agribusinesses, cooperatives, and universities to help farmers in developing countries improve agricultural productivity, access new markets, and increase their incomes.

In Uganda, Campion will assist a local farmer cooperation, Bar Orphans, Widows, and Widowers (BOWW) Cooperative Society, with building the management capacity of famer group leaders, cooperative management and board members to improve the effectiveness of their cooperative, to steer and participate in their cooperative society, and to better serve its members.

The BOWW Cooperative Society was formally registered in 2013 and is still in its infancy as are the leadership and management capacities of its members. BOWW Cooperative Society is composed of twenty farmer groups which are the Cooperative's constituent members. The major crops cultivated are sunflower, soybeans, maize and groundnuts.

With Campion's help, the cooperative will gain a better understanding of their rights, roles and responsibilities which will enable them to meaningfully participate in the society's activities and contribute to the growth of the Cooperative. Campion's assignment includes the training of 60 farmers.

In Uganda, maize is a staple crop and small-scale farmers have traditionally cultivated maize for food and income generation. Although the country's maize yields are low, ranging generally between 1.0 and 1.8 metric tons per hectare, there is great potential to increase the profitability and productivity of the crop by improving farmers' capacity to conduct farming as a business.

"Lex pro urbe et orbe (meaning law for the community and the world) is Vermont Law School's motto. I've never thought as a small town Vermont attorney that I would be able to be part of something that truly impacts those around the world. Farmer-to-Farmer made this possible," Campion said.

About CRS' Farmer to Farmer program

Campion's volunteer assignment is one of nearly 500 assignments that focus on agriculture, food security and nutrition in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. This is the first time CRS has been involved in the 28-year-old Farmer-to-Farmer Program funded by the U.S. government.

CRS is partnering with five U.S. institutions to tap into the rich diversity of the U.S. agriculture community: the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, Foods Resource Bank, National Association of Agricultural Educators, American Agri-Women, and the University of Illinois' College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Campion is American Agri-Women's Farmer-to-Farmer Program Volunteer Coordinator and will be working with American Agri-Women to promote this program to its members and affiliates over the course of the program.

The U.S. volunteers will travel to East Africa for anywhere from one to six weeks, their expenses covered by USAID.

"One thing we are certain of is that this program will be beneficial not just to the farmers in East Africa, but also to the volunteers from America," said Bruce White, CRS' director for the program. "It's going to make the world a little bit smaller for everyone involved."

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