Learning organic farming in Jamaica as part of FAVACA's Sustainable Farm Enterprise Program
In 2016, the Farmer-to-Farmer in Colombia’s Orinoquia Region project, implemented by Purdue University, made large strides toward enhancing networks for smallholder farmers, including supporting the development of a local food hub. Over the course of the year, volunteers completed 15 assignments for a total of 207 volunteer days, leveraging $97,820 in volunteer time. During those assignments, volunteers directly assisted 561 people.
One major achievement was the development of an agritourism industry in the region. Two volunteers, Johnathon Day, a Purdue University School of Hospitality and Tourism Management faculty member, and Leah Joyner, Education Coordinator for the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, worked with local farmers and officials to provide trainings on basic concepts of agritourism, environmental conservation and tourism development. Johnathon and Leah worked with farmers to develop strategies to grow their businesses without putting their farm at risk. Through topics such as biosecurity, strategic planning, organizational strengthening, and branding, participants gained information that is directly and immediately applicable to their agritourism businesses. A farmer who participated in the trainings, Ferney Perilla, said the F2F assignment “was the best tourism training I’ve been to.” He emphasized that, “Leah and Johnathon always encouraged us to ask questions and made us excited to keep making progress.”
The Improving Food Safety Systems Project (IFSSP), implemented by International Executive Service Corps (IESC) in Ghana, began in May of 2016. In the past seven months, IFSSP has accomplished many project objectives, including the completion of startup activities. However, the project’s major achievement of 2016 was convening a stakeholder forum for Ghana’s agricultural leaders in the public and private sectors to discuss sanitary and phytosanitary challenges. The acting USAID Mission Director and Ghana’s Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture attended the forum, in addition to 40 participants from representing business, government, and non-profit organizations. The forum, facilitated by volunteers Daljit Bains and Ben Banful, helped the project quickly gain stakeholder buy-in, and also provided a platform for key stakeholders to dialogue with one another on working collaboratively to address issues of concern in the horticulture value chain. Some of the challenges and suggested activities that emerged from discussion at the forum include training for exporters and farmers, upgrading skills for inspectors at exit points, standardization of trainings, closer coordination and collaboration, financial barriers to farmers, better information flow among relevant stakeholders and confirmation of the urgent need for a national produce traceability system. IFSSP plans to send 20 more volunteers over the next year and focus on developing and strengthening certification and traceability systems.
During the second year of The Jamaica Sustainable Farm Enterprise Program, implemented by Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas (FAVACA), 19 volunteers donated a total of 230 volunteer days and directly assisted 471 persons. The program continued to develop market driven organic value chain production, certification, and distribution systems for agricultural products that will sustainably reduce food insecurity and poverty. Major accomplishments include launching the first organic and natural farmers market in Kingston, creating an organic strawberry growers group, and working with government and private certifiers to establish a path for host certification of organic produce. Year three of the program will focus on developing specific crop protocols and budgets, as well as training new farmers on organic and natural farming techniques.
Farmer-to-Farmer in Colombia’s Orinoquia Region is anticipated to conclude in September 2017, while Jamaican Sustainable Farmer Enterprise Program has 16 more months of implementation and Improving Food Safety Systems Project in Ghana will continue until September 2018.