Bob Cooperrider: 2016 Volunteer of the Year Award Nominee
Bob Cooperrider is an expert in farm mechanization, with over twelve years of experience as a private farm owner. His knowledge spans the areas of organic agriculture, seed processing, farm management and teaching methods, but much of his background is in tractor mechanization. Mr. Cooperrider is a Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) veteran, recently completing his eleventh F2F assignment through CNFA.
In October 2014, Bob Cooperrider traveled to Southern Africa to provide volunteer technical assistance to the Tumbi Kongo Farmers’ Association. Located in the northeastern part of Angola, the association has large tracts of land with accessible clean water and fertile soil. However, members have struggled to fully utilize this land to cultivate horticulture and legume crops. While the association has had access to a Massey-Ferguson tractor to assist with land preparation, the members were never trained on how to properly use and care for the tractor before Mr. Cooperrider’s came to help.
Mr. Cooperrider’s volunteer assignment revitalized the association’s business by training its members on the basics of driving a motorized vehicle, practices for proper maintenance and proper land preparation. These changes have, increased the production and sales of Tumbi-Kongo. As a result of Mr. Cooperrider’s assignment, association has successfully expanded their cultivated land-use from 35 hectares to 42 hectares in less than two years, greatly expanding their production and income. The President of Tumbi-Kongo, Pedros Miguel Nunes, reported a 56% increase in production of fruits and vegetables and a 100% increase in sales since Mr. Cooperrider’s assignment. In response to the effect of Mr. Cooperrider’s assignment, Mr. Nunes stated, “Our tractor operation now works more carefully and we are doing maintenance correctly following the training. Now we do more work faster and longer.” Not only do the members of Tumbi Kongo Farmer’s association have hands-on understanding of best practice for tractor use and land preparation, but they received the tools need to significantly scale up their operation and improve their incomes.
Mr. Cooperrider’s ability to tailor trainings to his audience and instill long-term technical skills was crucial to the success of this F2F assignment. When explaining the expected impact of his assignment, Mr. Cooperrider said, “The trainees will have an opportunity to use their new knowledge and skills performing operations for the cooperative and neighboring farm operations. These were skills that can be readily disseminated in the farming community by the trainees throughout the Tomboco area as they gradually mechanize field operation.” Through his volunteer assistance, it is clear Mr. Cooperrider seeks to not only improve the livelihood of the association members, but improve the lives of all farmers in the community.
This article was originally written by CNFA.