EWB-USA is excited to announce a new partnership with USAID in support of their Farmer-to Farmer Program in Kosovo. This one-year program provides technical assistance from U.S. volunteers to farmers, farm groups, agribusinesses and other agriculture sector institutions in developing and transitional countries with the goal of promoting sustainable improvements in food security and agricultural processing, production and marketing.
Through summer 2017, EWB-USA’s Engineering Service Corps (ESC) will be working alongside Kosovo’s Agricultural Growth and Rural Opportunities (AGRO) Program, which is administered by USAID through Tetra Tech. Kosovo’s citizens are the poorest in Europe, with most of the population living in rural towns outside of the capital. Economic opportunity is limited by common reliance on inefficient farming practices. Primary factors that hinder production are limited farm mechanization and lack of technical expertise.
An ESC team is currently on the ground providing engineering support to agriculture businesses who work with the farming community throughout the country. These highly skilled volunteers will work on assignments to evaluate, design and improve the process to bring agriculture products to the commercial market in Kosovo and for export throughout Europe. Kosovo’s value chain products include apples, pears, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries, peppers, tomatoes, gherkin, cucumbers, lettuce, asparagus, medicinal and aromatic plants and dairy.
The current EWB-USA volunteers in the field include Russ Zick, Kevin Andrezejewski and ESC Deputy Director Mike Paddock. Kevin has an extensive background in managing agriculture value chain projects in international development. Russ is a mechanical engineer and has worked on various HVAC projects throughout different industries.
The team arrived in Kosovo in mid-July and has already drafted a design for a forced-air cooling system that will bring Kosovo’s table grape industry up to global standards. Once the design is implemented, the system will store this year’s harvest and help farming families take their crops to markets near and far. The team continues to visit with strategic partners and small-scale farmers in the region to understand their challenges and develop future engineering assignments.
You can track the progress of the Farmer-to-Farmer program by following us on Instagram and keeping a lookout for future blog posts.