News and Events

Josh Felsk

This article was originally written by Land O'Lakes International Development. 

Name: Josh Felsk

Current title/profession: Food Safety Inspector, Michigan Department of Agriculture

Current hometown: Lansing, Michigan

Areas of expertise: Food safety


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

Location of the project: Lebanon

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


Since 2014, Lebanon has been facing a food safety crisis with foodbourne illnesses on the rise. In order to maintain the health of citizens and ensure the safety of exported food products, the country needs to build the capacity of governmental food inspectors in food safety. In March 2016, Land O’Lakes International Development sent Josh Felsk, a Food Safety Inspector from the Michigan Department of Agriculture, to Lebanon through the US Agency for International Developmentfunded Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program.

Control of food Safety in Lebanon is the responsibility of several governmental authorities, but the Ministry of Economy and Trade is in charge of all consumable products placed on the market, including food. While in Lebanon, Felsk worked closely with this ministry to raise the bar on food inspection. He trained inspectors on best practices in food examination, sampling, investigation techniques and other relevant topics.

Felsk shared his practical experience with more than a hundred food inspectors (36 males and 69 females) and 20 food business operators, building knowledge and skills for better performance and more efficient work output. Attendees learned about the Michigan State Food Safety Code, new inspection methods, and techniques that peers follow in the US, and were able to validate their own. Group work, open discussions and questions ensured an interactive and productive atmosphere.

Classroom training was just half of Felsk’s assignment. He also made field visits to more than four facilities, including a bakery, restaurant and two supermarkets where he was able to witness and compare different practices. Twenty inspectors (nine males and eleven females) joined Felsk for the first visits, which allowed them to have a more hands-on training with the expert. The Consumer Protection Directorate is pleased with the knowledge that Felsk was able to share and has requested similar follow-up assignments focusing on field visit trainings with US.-based expert volunteers.

Hans Kandel

This article was originally written and published by the Farm Forum here

Name: Hans Kandel

Current title/profession: Extension Agronomist at North Dakota State University

Current hometown: Fargo, North Dakota

Areas of expertise: Agronomy, crops, higher education


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

Location of the project: Sierra Leone

Organization that sent the volunteer: Partners of the Americas


North Dakota State University professor and Extension agronomist Hans Kandel traveled to Sierra Leone for two weeks in September to share his technical skills and expertise with local farmers.

Kandel’s assignment is part of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program that promotes economic growth, enhanced nutrition through access to healthy food and agricultural development in West and East Africa. Farmer-to-Farmer is funded by the U.S Agency for International Development.

The F2F program matches the technical expertise of U.S. famers and professionals in agri-businesses, farming cooperatives and universities with farmers in developing countries to assist them in improving agricultural productivity, accessing new markets and increasing their incomes.

Sierra Leone is on the coast of West Africa. About three-fourths of the 7.5 million citizens depend on agriculture for their income and 60 percent live in rural areas. An estimated 25 percent of the population cannot afford minimum daily caloric requirements and face regular difficulties meeting food, shelter and clothing needs.

“There are many natural resources available in Sierra Leone, but farmers lack the knowledge to utilize these resources,” Kandel said. “I provided training on rice production. Farmers did not know about the importance of adding compost, manure and other nutrients to their fields.”

Kandel added, “Rice is the main food staple. Presently, the country imports rice to meet the local demand. However, the country could produce enough rice for its own consumption if subsistence farmers utilized improved crop management practices.”

Sierra Leone faces many challenges in reaching its agricultural potential. They include a lack of expertise, weak producer organizations, low access to technology, limited infrastructure, institutional and financial obstacles to private sector development, and limited government funding.

During his time abroad, Kandel worked with 21 leader farmers who were trained for eight days in basic rice production issues, as well as practical application of the principles learned.

Most of Kandel’s time was spent in Magburaka in the northern province of Sierra Leone, working with Agenda for Community Transformation-Sierra Leone (ACT-SL), a farmer-driven organization.

“Farmers were very receptive to the concepts presented and indicated an enthusiasm to adopt proper seedbed preparation, transplanting, fertilizing and weeding of rice,” Kandel stated.

“We are certain that this program will be beneficial not just to the farmers in West and East Africa but also to the experts from America,” said Bruce White, director of the CRS program. “It’s going to make the world a little bit smaller and a whole lot better for everyone involved.”