This article was originally written by Dr. Bruce Williams and published by Winrock International here.
Name: Dr. Bruce Williams
Current title/profession: President and Owner of Agronomy and Horticulture Services
Current hometown: Wilmington, North Carolina
Areas of expertise: Agriculture enterprise development, timber business, horticulture
Name of project: Asia Farmer-to-Farmer Program
Location of the project: Bangladesh
Organization that sent the volunteer: Winrock International
I have participated in nearly 50 F2F Assignments in the past 22 years but this is my first visit to Bangladesh. The level of poverty, the small farms, the density of agricultural activities, and the tropical conditions were all that I expected and more. However, I was not prepared for the Bangladesh people. I found the people of the Satkhira region of southwest Bangladesh delightful. They were open, courteous, sharing, appreciative, diligent, and smart. I will look forward to a return visit in the future.
My assignment focused upon a 5-day training of small scale youth farmers in basic techniques for commercial vegetable seed production. Rice and jute are the primary cash crops of the region, but we focused upon tomato, pepper, eggplant, cucumber, pumpkin, and gourd seed production. After reviewing basic plant biology, I covered seed production technology. The final day concluded with a field trip to a government-operated rice breeding project and foundation seed producer. Although on a much grander scale, participants were able to see basic processes, seed treatments, seed testing, and storage of agricultural seed in their home territory.
Dr. Williams shows the farmers the symptoms of insect attacks and prevalence of powdery mildew problems on cucumber leaves during a field visit
Dr. Williams shows another farmer the damage and color change on eggplant leaves due to an aphids’ attack
The conditions were not perfect. The electricity went on and went off and temperatures in the seminar room were sometimes hot, but no one complained. Participants came up to me many times and said how much they enjoyed the presentations and appreciated the information I was sharing with them. During the field visits, farmers showed enthusiasm for information and techniques in plant protection and cultivation.
The experience was truly humbling. I sincerely hope my efforts will help some of the Bangladeshi people to attain their goals and dreams.