News and Events

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

Bruce Gregory

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

Name: Bruce Gregory

Current title/profession: Resource Planner, District Management

Current hometown: San Juan Islands

Areas of expertise: Agriculture, natural resource management


ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

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

Location of the project: Tajikistan 

Organization that sent the volunteer: ACDI/VOCA


VOLUNTEER IMPACT

Alisher Dehkan Farm in Tajikistan’s Khatlon Province has been producing apples, plums, bing cherry, pears, peaches, apricots, and almonds since 2009. Its owner, Firdavs Safarov, however, lacks solid orchard management skills. For example, each year he had to hire local pruning specialists to maintain his farm. But the associated costs limited profits. There was a time when Safarov considered selling the farm because it generated so little income.

Then Safarov learned that a volunteer consultant from the United States would be training local producers on key orchard management skills. During a one-day session in November 2014, ACDI/VOCA Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Bruce Gregory of Washington State instructed Safarov and others on orchard management best practices. And later, working together on his farm, Bruce taught Safarov important pruning techniques for different trees.

With the assignment completed, Bruce gave his host the pruning shears they used in gratitude for his hospitality. Safarov immediately applied the techniques Bruce taught him. Indeed, the farm went on to nearly double its production in 2015, with yearly sales climbing 25 percent to total 27,390 TJS ($4,150).

The simple exchange of knowledge between peers is a key contributor to Farmer-to-Farmer's success. 

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