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“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.”
Home State: Florida, U.S.
Name of project: FAMU Haiti Farmer to Farmer Special Program Support Project
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.
Name: Sarah Master
Current title/profession: Chef
Current hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Areas of expertise: Culinary Arts
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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
Name: Makeba Clay
Current title/profession: Leadership and Organizational Strategist
Current hometown: Washington, DC
Name of project: West Africa Farmer-to-Farmer Program
Location of the project: Ghana
Organization that sent the volunteer: ACDI/VOCA
By Makeba Clay, the ACDI/VOCA-SHRM Foundation International Volunteer Partnership’s first volunteer
It’s so hard to believe that I have only been working with the farmers of the Techiman Maize Traders Association (TEMTA) for almost two weeks now. In such a short time, I have had time to get better acquainted with the farmers, aggregators, and many of those who sell maize in the Techiman market
through informal encounters in the market, focus group sessions, and formal training.
From the beginning, it was clear to me that the farmers were very eager to learn effective methods for strengthening their business operations based on their participation in the focus groups and discussions that I had with them in the market. They were thoroughly engaged throughout the trainings and were also very active in the role playing activities. One of the most notable themes present throughout my discussions with the farmers is the role that culture plays in business.
As I mentioned in my previous post, Ghanaians are known for their hospitality and also for their deep value of relationships. Based on this, there tends to be a level of informality and a lot of trust that goes into their business practices. These factors, along with a reluctance to disappoint or upset members of the community, has created challenges with adherence to firm contract management practices.
An unexpected aspect of the trainings (and any group meetings with the farmers) has been the importance of integrating faith in everything that they do. For example, all meetings start and end with a prayer. Because approximately half of the TEMTA members are Christian, while the other half are Muslim, they alternate prayers between the two faiths. There is also deep respect and acknowledgement for coordinating meetings around times that do not conflict with Muslim prayer times. Being a part of this type of inclusive interfaith workplace environment has been a really unique and special experience for me.
Additionally, I have been very impressed by the dedication of the training participants. For example, each day that I arrived at the TEMTA Headquarters there were already several farmers there to make sure everything would be set up perfectly for the training session. They also spent their free time reminding other farmers about the training and encouraging participation. As a result of their efforts, nearly 100 participants joined yesterday’s training.
At one training, a number of women in attendance were quite vocal in their desire to become more engaged in leadership roles within the organization and hoped that the training would help build their confidence toward that end. Although there was a moment of dissension among the men regarding some of their statements, due to cultural traditions, there was still respect for the opinions of the women.
As the last week of training approaches, I am looking forward to working with the farmers to implement some of the practical business solutions (ex. record keeping, contract management and negotiation) that we have been discussing. I am also eager to learn about how they plan to support one another during this period of personal development, growth and leadership.
About the ACDI/VOCA-SHRM Foundation International Volunteer Partnership
This partnership was designed to engage high-potential HR professionals and their colleagues in impactful, skills-based international volunteer assignments in the developing world. The assignments represent unique professional development and corporate social responsibility opportunities and are developed and managed by ACDI/VOCA, a leading Washington, DC-based international development organization. Volunteers are selected based on their skillsets and assignment needs. All assignment costs are covered by ACDI/VOCA.