News and Events

Benedicto Marinas

Name: Benedicto Marinas

Current title/profession: Chef

Current hometown: New York City

Areas of expertise: Culinary Arts


ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Name of project: Improving the Sustainability of Malian Sheep and Goat Farming Program

Location of the project: West Sikasso region, Mali

Duration of assignment: Eight weeks

Organization that sent the volunteer: Common Pastures/Browse and Grass Growers Cooperative

In the village of Solla-Bougouda, as in many other villages in the West Sikasso region, most families have corn porridge for breakfast; and corn porridge, break corn or corn paste with tomatoes, onion or okra sauce for dinner. If a third meal is taken the options are the same.

New York City Chef Benedicto came to Bougouni Circle in the Sikasso region of Mali to share his creative use of farmer products in nutritious, inexpensive meals. He worked with 4 villages and 1 school including 125 men, 129 women, 118 youth and totaling 372 (36 with disabilities).

He first requested that the participants share their cooking methods and ingredients. He then explored what was available in their community gardens and sold on the roadways. With this information he was able to increase the nutrition and diversity of their meals. Measuring tools were ignored. Participants were encouraged to use their intuition and trust their eyes and taste when creating meals.

Almost half of children in the rural areas of the Sikasso region, 42%, show delayed growth (Malian Demographic and Health survey: EDSM-V 2012-2013). Benedicto built the capacity of men, women, and youth to prepare and appreciate more diverse food choices, such as the highly nutritious moringa tree leaf, papaya, sweet potatoes, and spices, along with the addition of protein from fresh milk, eggs, chicken, and fish from the local river.

The village chief, Mr. Djeka Mariko, praised the results: “Benedicto you are a blessing…, by coming so far and training all of us on the importance of using our foods as our medicine to maintain health.”


Chef Benedicto Recipe - Corn and Moringa in Fish Broth

Ingredients:

  • Moringa leaves
  • Dried catfish
  • Corn Kernel
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Tomatoes
  • Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet. Cook and stir garlic, then onion, ginger and tomatoes in hot skillet until softened, about five minutes. Add the dried catfish, stir slowly until tender. Add water. Let it boil. Add the corn kernel. Simmer until cooked, about 15 minutes. Add the moringa leaves. Season with salt and pepper. In no less than a minute after the moringa leaves are added, this dish is ready.

Note: moringa leaves gets overcooked easily and when they are, they tend to get bitter.

 

Fresh corn, moringa leaves and dried fish

Paul Christ

Name: Paul Christ

Current title/profession: Retired

Current hometown: Minnesota

Areas of expertise: Economics, risk management, strategic planning, and dairy 


ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer in Russia

Location of the project: Russia

Organization that sent the volunteer: Land O'Lakes International Development


VOLUNTEER IMPACT

Paul Christ, retired Vice President, Economics and Risk Management for Land O’Lakes, applied his 26 years of Land O’Lakes experience to a recent volunteer assignment in Russia. As a volunteer in the USAID-funded John Ogonowski Farmer-to- Farmer Program, Paul traveled for two weeks in November–December 2006 to central Siberia to advise the Tomsk Department of Agriculture on strategic planning and development of their dairy industry. His knowhow covered the entire dairy value chain, from production to marketing. Still, Paul discovered that his Russian counterparts were most interested in the structure of the U.S. dairy industry. He delivered six seminars on this topic to urban and rural audiences, all of them followed by rigorous question-and-answer sessions. Though the weather was chilly, literally -17°F upon arrival, the Russians warmly received the exchange of information in the seminars. In a recent interview, Paul shared his views on being a volunteer:

Why did you volunteer?

I am rewarded by each foreign assignment. It is one of the most rewarding things you can do. I am much enriched by each assignment and receive more than I contribute. Regarding this particular assignment, I was always interested in Russia and had taken a course in the Russian language in the Army.

How did being a part of the Land O’Lakes organization positively influence what you bring to an overseas assignment?

Because Land O’Lakes is a major player in the dairy industry, I could answer all their questions about the U.S. dairy industry. Working at a broadbased organization such as Land O’Lakes gave me a range of experience that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

How did your trip benefit you personally and professionally?

In terms of professional development, as on other trips, I learned about agriculture in another part of the world and other ways of doing things. As for personal development, it was a confidence-building exercise.I was the only American around  except in Moscow at the beginning and end of the trip. I had some culture shock but learned I could fit in and made a point of spending some time on my own without the interpreter.

Do you ever recommend to others that they volunteer internationally?

Yes, at social and professional occasions, I talk about my foreign assignments. People are intrigued by the stories. If others seem interested, I encourage them to contact Land O’Lakes International Development to fill out an application. I stress to them that it is a new cultural experience. You go into it needing to depend on others for help. By following the in-country staff’s advice on where to go and where not to, I’m glad to say I’ve never had a bit of trouble. My experience is that people are decent everywhere.

This article was originally written by Land O'Lakes.

Nimer Al-Shadfan

This article was originally written and published by Land O'Lakes International Development here

Name: Nimer Al-Shadfan

Current title/profession: Strategic Operations Manager at Land O'Lakes, Inc.

Current hometown: Blaine, Minnesota

Areas of expertise: Manufacturing, quality management, food safety


ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer Middle East and North Africa

Location of the project: Egypt

Organization that sent the volunteer: Land O'Lakes International Development


VOLUNTEER IMPACT

In December 2015, Nimer Al-Shadfan, a Land O’Lakes, Inc. employee, went on a volunteer assignment with Land O'Lakes International Development's Farmer-to-Farmer program. He is featured in the photo below on the left, alongside Hossam Habeeb, Farmer-to-Farmer Egypt Country Director. Nimer spent two weeks in Egypt training a manufacturing plant on quality. We sat down with him to learn more.

Hello, Nimer! Please tell us about your career with Land O’Lakes, Inc.
Three years ago, my family and moved from overseas to Chilton, Wisconsin. Land O’Lakes hired me as an Operations Manager at a milk replacer plant, supervising about 50 employees. Earlier this year, I was hired for a Strategic Operations Manager position, still supporting milk replacer plants, but relocated to headquarters. I now live in Blaine with my wife and two daughters.

In December 2015, you went to Egypt with the Farmer-to-Farmer program. You were halfway around the world from the United State, but I hear that this assignment was close to home for you. Please tell us more.
I’m originally from Jordan, a country in the Middle East not far from Egypt. Jordan is where I went to school, met my wife, and we still have a lot of loved ones there. Egypt has a large Jordanian population, so for me it was like going to a second home. I even know their dialect of Arabic. When I heard about these volunteer assignments, I knew this would be an opportunity to give back to and share my manufacturing knowledge with the community that raised me.

It all comes full circle. What was your Farmer-to-Farmer assignment?
I was assigned to work with an organic manufacturing plant about north of Cairo. They requested that I train 25 employees on quality management. The plant is actually very sophisticated, they manufacture organic goods, such as medicines, tea, and cotton, but they had some major gaps in quality consistency.

What were a few of the results of the training?
After doing group exercises and better understanding the company, we worked to come up with solutions to issues they were facing. At the end, we presented improvement ideas to the leadership team. Two ideas that stood out to them were: a pest control management system, and an organizational decision-making process that better includes the workforce – the people who are on the line protecting quality.

All in all, the participants and the leadership were pleased with the results. They must have liked something I did, because I was invited to many of their houses for tea and dinner. And the president of the company actually invited me to play in a soccer game with him on the weekend.

Sounds like a hospitable bunch!
Yes. It’s unfortunate that the region is mostly portrayed as violent and unsafe. Middle Eastern people have always been known for their hospitality and generosity. And they love to learn.

Did you face any challenges at all while you were there?
The training handouts were in English, but the participants weren’t that comfortable with English. So every night, I went back to the hotel and translated the materials to make sure they would be used. Without an Arabic keyboard on me, it took quite a while. I ended up working 13 hour days, but it was all worth it for an interesting and fulfilling experience.

As we close, did you notice any parallels between Land O’Lakes employees and those you worked with in Egypt?
In the manufacturing industry, I find more similarities than differences in people, no matter where I am. Folks working in the plants are there to make a living and provide for their families. Many of them work in one facility their whole lives. Cultures may differ, but everywhere I go, people’s needs are the same.

David Ringuette

This article was originally written by David Ringuette and published by ACDI/VOCA here

Name: David Ringuette

Current title/profession: Retired Professor at the University of Hawaii Windward Community College, Owner of Serikaku Farm Ltd.

Current hometown: Hawaii

Areas of expertise: Aquaculture, agriculture, environmental science, horticulture, climate change mitigation


ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (ECCA)

Location of the project: Kyrgyzstan

Organization that sent the volunteer: ACDI/VOCA


VOLUNTEER IMPACT

In the past three years, I have completed 17 volunteer assignments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. With 20 years of experience as a farmer and 30 years of experience as an agriculture professor in Hawaii, I have a lot of knowledge to share about agricultural practices and appropriate technology. Traveling to less-developed countries, meeting new people, and giving farmers in other parts of the world innovative ideas is a wonderful feeling, and I am excited to be a volunteer.

Working with a volunteer gives farmers in rural areas a sense of value and a unique experience of interacting with an American in the flesh. Somehow, sharing a meal, creating compost, or looking at worms on a corn plant can be a bonding experience!

For example, as a volunteer with ACDI/VOCA’s Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program, funded by USAID, I spent two weeks in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, training farmers in composting techniques. This is a temperate area, and there is an abundance of organic matter in the fall, which farmers typically burn. After I explained the importance of organic matter in the soil and how to use as a resource, rather than discard it, the farmers were enthusiastic to turn waste into something beneficial. There was even a discussion about developing a business selling the compost as the former Soviet Union had once done.

Back home in Connecticut, I was not raised to be a volunteer. My first experience as a Peace Corps volunteer showed me just how rewarding working with farmers could be. (My parents did not understand why I would spend four years getting a college degree and then work for free.) We farmers, the world over, share the desire to make life better for future generations and produce healthy, abundant food. In my experience, when I explain to some people in developing countries that I am here to share knowledge with them, they accept me and show an eagerness to learn new farming ideas that could improve yields and environmental sustainability, lessen the burden of work, and offer new cash crops.

With no prodding from their parents, both of my children became Peace Corps volunteers, too. Currently, my son, Ryan, is working to help implement Catholic Relief Services’ Farmer-to-Farmer Program in Uganda. Life, for me, has come full circle, and I could not be prouder. Going on a vacation with one’s adult children is a pleasure. But doing development work with my son takes it to a whole new level. On two separate occasions, I have been able to go to Uganda and work on projects developed by his office with people in his country of service.

The Farmer-to-Farmer Program provided me with the opportunity to help people learn about new farming ideas in developing parts of the world. The farmers are appreciative of my help and implement many of the new techniques. I will continue to volunteer with the program, as long as my skills and knowledge of farming can be of help to others.

Read about Ryan Ringuette here

Trevor Hylton

 “I saw another side of Haiti; many productive growers growing crops with very limited resources. Some of the growers did not realize how important they were to the overall operation of the country as a whole. I gained firsthand knowledge and left with a better understanding of the day to struggles of average small scale crop producer. The students for the most part were bright, articulate and very enthusiastic.”


ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Home State: Florida, U.S.

Name of project: FAMU Haiti Farmer to Farmer Special Program Support Project

Country: Haiti

SPSP Grantee: FAMU

Duration of Assignment: 11 days

Summary of Volunteer Role and Assignment: Trevor was a FAMU/Multi-County Extension Agent for their Farmer-to-Farmer program at the Universite Caraibe (UC) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Trevor visited the University for two weeks during their summer break and presented techniques for vegetable gardening, planting, and soil irrigation. In an effort to ensure maximum student participation, University Caraibe decided to have a two-week on-campus summer session. The university students received training from the F2F volunteers during the first week. During the second week, the university students, with the assistance of the volunteers, provided training to Haitian farmers and school aged children during a two-day agricultural summer camp.

Volunteer Impact: As a result of Trevor’s assignment, the students and farmers are better equipped to understand the different aspects of soil irrigation and vegetable gardening. The students and farmers have been able to evaluate their soil better and have also used soil kits that were left with them during the training. The students have also successfully planted a school vegetable garden.

Sarah Master

Name: Sarah Master

Current title/profession: Chef

Current hometown: Minneapolis, MN

Areas of expertise: Culinary Arts

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Name of project: Improving the Sustainability of Malian Sheep and Goat Farming Program

Volunteer Scope of Work: Small Ruminant Full Carcass Utilization, Sausage, Curing and Smoking

Location of the project: Sikasso region, Mali

Duration of assignment: 10 days

Organization that sent the volunteer: Common Pastures/Browse and Grass Growers Cooperative

The Sikasso region has higher rainfall than most other areas of Mali and some of the best agricultural land available. The region currently produces excellent fruits and vegetables in such abundance that they cannot be consumed fast enough and are regularly wasted.

Roadside stands, in full sun, are loaded with products such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggs throughout the heat of the day. Without dependable electricity and adequate refrigeration, even in cities, preservation is a challenge and not common.

Minneapolis Chef Sarah Master came to Bamako, Mali to share methods of preserving foods with chefs, staff, and students. She taught several methods of preservation including: curing, smoking, drying, and pickling of meats and similar methods for preserving fruits and vegetables. In collaboration with 3 restaurants available local foods and resources were utilized to create new menu-ready dishes.

Meat: New ways of using the entire animal (i.e., fish, lamb and goat) were explored. As an example, a whole goat was purchased at the live animal market, slaughtered, cut up, and smoked for quick sandwiches as well as using the liver to make pate for a spread. Market vegetables (e.g., carrot, okra, green pepper, and onion) were pickled to use as a condiment. Methods of preparing meats combined with vegetables were experimented with leading to a special dinner event featuring off-cuts and offal. A creative menu consisting of testicles, intestines, tongue, livers, hearts, chicken heads and feet along with vegetables was introduced to staff and delighted guests. “Best meal I have ever tasted” raved a restaurant guest from the United Nations.
Vegetables and Fruits: Fruits and vegetables are easily preserve by drying, canning and pickling. In-season baskets of ripe, fresh fruits and vegetables line the roadways. Limes readily grow in Mali and can be used to raise the acidity level for canning. Supplies needed are simple and include a heating source, stockpot, mixing bowls, knife, slotted spoon, fork, and sterilized jars with lids.

The recipes for pickling and preserving can be used not only as condiments and compliments to their menus, but also to preserve fresh, nutritious vegetables and fruits from the local markets. The staff and chefs all had concerns about the electricity and refrigeration issues in Bamako.

“I believe the pickling and preserving will be used regularly," said Sarah. "I am eager to return to teach more people how to preserve their meats and vegetables through canning, pickling, smoking, and drying.”

Canning Tomatoes

Method: 1. Boil a pot of water; 2. Prep the cold bath; 3. Take off the stems and slice a shallow "X" in the bottom of each; 4; Cook until the skins wrinkles and splits; 5. Lift the tomatoes out of the pot and plunge into the cold water for a few seconds; 6. Transfer the cooled tomatoes to another bowl; 7. Strip the skins from the tomatoes (optional); 8. Chop into small pieces; 9. Using a fork, squeeze the tomatoes to make them smaller and juicier; 10. Bring tomato sauce to simmer over medium heat for about 30 or minutes stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens; 11. Stir in lemon or lime juice and taste to determine sourness; 12. Transfer the sauce into sterilized jars and cover tightly; 13. Place in boiling water for no more than 30 minutes; 14. Allow to cool undisturbed; 15. Results may be stored for up to a year. 

Pickling

Ingredients: 4 parts water, 3 parts sugar (white or brown), 2 parts vinegar (any flavor), 1 part salt. Any spicing desired (e.g., garlic, pepper, peppercorns, dried chilis, dill, cloves…).

1. Sterilize clean jars and lids by boiling covered with water for at least 15 minutes; 2. Combine pickling mixture and to a full boil; 3. Place vegetables in sterilized jars; 4. Pour boiling mixture over the vegetables leaving some space at the top; 5. Seal the lids, cool, and store.  

 

Participant Fatoumata Coulibally proudly showing her preserved tomatoes.

Bill Nichols

Name: Bill Nichols

Current title/profession: Principal at Nichols Consulting

Current hometown: Boston, Massachusetts

Areas of expertise: Marketing, strategic planning


ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer in the Dominican Republic

Location of the project: Dominican Republic

Organization that sent the volunteer: Partners of the Americas


VOLUNTEER IMPACT

Bill Nichols is a Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) veteran. A graduate of West Point and Harvard Business School, Mr. Nichols has over 30 years of both domestic and international management and marketing experience. He has used his expertise on multiple F2F assignments for Partners of the Americas, most recently in the Dominican Republic (DR) Yaque del Norte working in the watershed with Plan Yaque, a non-profit environmental organization that is dedicated to guaranteeing access to water for all individuals who depend on the watershed.

Partners of the Americas’ F2F program in the DR seeks to increase the resilience of vulnerable populations to the unpredictable impacts of global climate change. The program has a particular emphasis on water management in the Yaque del Norte watershed, which directly and indirectly affects two million people. However, Plan Yaque’s six-person staff was overwhelmed by the number and magnitude of environmental issues that needed to be addressed. In June 2014, F2F Volunteer Bill Nichols traveled to the DR to assist the organization in developing a strategic plan to prioritize the greatest needs for climate change adaptation in communities most affected.

As a result of the assignment, Plan Yaque is focusing activities on three critical issues: water contamination and quality, micro-watershed degradation, and deforestation. Mr. Nichols also worked with Plan Yaque on strategies to increase impact, such as focusing activities primarily on the upper watershed so that a greater number of farmers and inhabitants downstream can benefit. By March 2015, Plan Yaque had a clearer and more focused set of key areas of work. Their new vision prioritizes partnering with the right organizations to strategically address the many environmental issues that impact the Yaque del Norte water resources.

Download this story in PDF format below. This article was originally written by Partners of the Americas.

 

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Dr. David Addae

This article was originally written and published by ACDI/VOCA.

Name: Dr. David Addae

Current title/profession: Professor of Advanced Technologies, Alcorn State University

Current hometown: Natchez, Mississippi

Areas of expertise: Post-harvest food losses, strategic technologies, community building


ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer West Africa

Location of the project: Ghana

Organization that sent the volunteer: ACDI/VOCA


VOLUNTEER IMPACT

In Twapease, Ghana, the Dekaworwor Rice Growers’ Association has seen a dramatic increase in rice yields and nearly doubling of income. Profits have been plowed right back into the community. They are used to extend credit to association members and expand educational opportunities for local children. All primary school-aged children now attend school because their fees are covered by the association. The farmers are also paying for promising teenagers to attend junior high and trade school.

How was this group able to achieve such a transformation? The answer is hard work and support from the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) West Africa program implemented by ACDI/VOCA.

F2F is a USAID-funded program that sends U.S. agricultural experts to developing and transitional countries where they voluntarily share

The 64-member Dekaworwor association received assistance from Dr. David Addae of Natchez, Mississippi. Before the F2F volunteer came, the association's agronomic practices were lacking: farmers planted low-quality seeds by broadcasting, i.e., scattering by hand.

Through demonstrations, Dr. Addae taught the farmers how they could yield more rice by using higher-quality seeds and planting manually in lines, which helps to evenly distribute the seeds and places them at the correct depth. He said that this technique also cuts down on time spent on crop maintenance, since rows allow the farmers to quickly weed or apply inputs.

Dr. Addae also demonstrated techniques on how to prepare the rice to avoid significant post-harvest losses. He was well qualified to do so since his dissertation was "Post-Harvest Food Losses in Ghana."

The results from Dr. Addae's visit are impressive. Members’ rice harvests have increased from 0.85 tons per acre to 1.98 tons per acre, resulting in an average increase of $446 per acre—meaning the farmers have effectively doubled their rice sales. Credit goes to the farmers’ hard work and diligent adoption of farming and post-harvest handling techniques recommended by Dr. Addae.

Improved prospects have resulted in a stronger commitment to working together. “We are so much more unified now than we were before the training. We care for each other now,” said one member.

Another member agreed and said, “Now there is love, unity and respect in our group.”

A brighter future for these farmers means a brighter future for this community and its future generations.

Following this assignment, Dr. Addae returned to Ghana to assist the Abotre Ye Farmer's Association (AYFA). During his two-week assignment, Dr. Addae focused trained members and leaders of AYFA on effective communication, team work and records keeping.

Dr. Addae is a professor in the department of Advanced Technologies at Alcorn State University. He received his Masters in Agricultural Economics and Rural Development from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Ryan Ringuette

This article was originally written by Ryan Ringuette and published by CRS here

Name: Ryan Ringuette

Current title/profession: Peace Corps Volunteer

Current hometown: Kampala, Uganda

Areas of expertise: Biosystems engineering, food engineering


ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer in East Africa

Location of the project: Uganda

Organization that sent the volunteer: Catholic Relief Services (CRS)


VOLUNTEER IMPACT

Volunteering has (accidentally) become my family’s tradition. Both my father and mother are Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (Morocco and Nepal), and both my sister and I are current Peace Corps Volunteers (Paraguay and Uganda). Additionally, my recently retired father volunteers with the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer program (F2F). F2F leverages the expertise of US volunteers to respond to the needs of farmers and farmer organizations around the world. And as a third year Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) with Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) F2F Uganda program, I ensure he and others like him can do just that.

I say ‘accidentally’ because I never dreamed about becoming a PCV. When I was growing up, academics were the driving force, farming the family tradition, and volunteering an occasional undertaking. I wanted to help people, be helpful to them, and thought academics were the best way to learn how to do this. However, being the son of RPCV and teacher parents, every summer we would travel. Sometimes domestically, usually internationally, but always as budget traveler’s places with different geographies, cultures, and histories than Hawai’i. At some point I realized I was learning more from these experiences than I was at school, which led me to apply for Peace Corps in my Senior year of college.

I arrived in Uganda as an Agribusiness Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in June 2015. After training with 46 other PCV’s-to-be, I paired with NilePro Trust, a local NGO and F2F host organization in Arua, Uganda. With NilePro, I was a field supervisor for their Vegetable Oil Development Project, promoting oilseed crops (sunflower, soybean, sesame) to farmers and developing farmer groups capacity to link to markets. During my time with them, NilePro received three volunteers; two helping to develop farmer groups into cooperatives and one assessing the feasibility of a sesame processing plant with NilePro. The volunteer’s different practices, perspectives, and experiences with their assignment and in development work enhanced my own understanding of how people try to help other people.

During my first two years, my Dad and I met twice on or after a F2F assignment. The first was after his assignment in Tanzania; we trekked to the gorillas in Bwindi forest and watched lions laze in the trees of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The second was during the last week of his soil conservation assignment in Mbale, Uganda. This is the only time I have seen him in action and how much he enjoys working with farmers from a different part of the world. Making compost piles was something we were taught in Peace Corps, but conveying that message to a farmer so they understand and potentially use it is something I learned from watching him.

Near the end of my first two years, third year positions were developed by the Peace Corps country program with the goal of providing interested PCV’s the opportunity to work in international development. One of those positions was as a program officer with CRS’s F2F Uganda program. My previous, positive experiences with the program and the opportunity for professional, international development made my decision very easy. And allows me to continue the new family tradition.

Read David Ringuette's article here

Stephen Peterson

Several days after visiting the apiary he had the opportunity to see an ancient Egyptian depiction of beekeeping these bees at the Tomb of Pabasa. “You may have to be a bee-geek to appreciate my feelings upon seeing this classic scene just days after seeing it in action in Fayoum [Egypt]…" - Stephen

                                                                                               


Profession: Master Beekeeper

Home State: Alaska, U.S.

Area of Expertise: Beekeeping

Language Spoken: English


ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Middle East and North Africa (MENA) 

Program Country: Egypt

Core Implementer: Land O'Lakes International Development

Objective: To increase technical knowledge on low hive productivity and poor honey quality.

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: While in Egypt, Stephen offered guidance to several apiaries on the importance of optimum spacing of bee colonies for improved pollination and increased honey yields. Stephen discovered that one of the apiaries he visited during his assignment works with an indigenous Egyptian bee, Apis mellifera lamarckii. This type of bee is rarely used today and Stephen referred to them as, “a national treasure.” Several days after visiting the apiary, he had the opportunity to see an ancient Egyptian depiction of beekeeping of these rare bees at the Tomb of Pabasa. “You may have to be a bee-geek to appreciate my feelings upon seeing this classic scene just days after seeing it in action in Fayoum…” he said.

Stephen also spoke at the Seventh Annual Arab Beekeepers Union Conference in Egypt. His presentation on good beekeeping practices generated much attention from the conference’s 300 attendees from over 12 countries. Finally, he completed a follow-up assignment where he offered seminars on best practices in bee colony management, nutrition, reproduction and harvesting at apiary schools in Upper Egypt. Stephen is confident that Egyptian beekeepers’ honey quality and yields will improve as the apiaries apply the advice he offered. 

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