Thursday, April 28, 2016

From Maine to Sibinal, San Marcos: F2F Volunteer Steve Johnson Helps Potato Growers Save and Store Seeds in Guatemala

Written by F2F field officer, Andrea Lucrecia Fión Góngora

F2F volunteer Steve Johnson meets potato producers in Sibinal, San Marcos
The distance between Maine, USA to Sibinal, Guatemala is over 3,600 miles. Sibinal is a mountainous municipality comprised of approximately 27,000 individuals and found at the base of the Tacaná volcano in the department of San Marcos, Guatemala. The majority of Sibinal communities are Mam or Kaqchikel, two Mayan ethnic groups. For the past ten years, the Guatemalan National Potato Federation (FENAPAPA) has supported 2,000 small scale potato producers in the San Marcos region.

Like on some potato farms in Maine, potato producers in Sibinal save seeds. However, seed potatoes in Sibinal have recently developed bacterial and fungi infections. As producers save seeds from season to season, the diseases are transmitted each year, causing significantly smaller potatoes and consistently lower yields. While some producers wanted to explore using high-quality certified seed potatoes, they are expensive and FENAPAPA did not have access to information or technical assistance on how to maintain or produce certified seed potatoes.

Dr. Johnson training producers to identify blackleg, a plant disease of potatoes
In November 2015, Partners of the Americas connected with Dr. Steve Johnson, an expert in potato storage and production with almost 30 years of experience as a crop specialist at the University of Maine, and sent him to Guatemala as a Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer to work directly with FENAPAPA. During the first week of his assignment, Dr. Johnson visited several different plantations and storage buildings. He met with individual producers to assess their main storage and management issues, as well as addressed their production concerns. The following week, Dr. Johnson organzed a two-day training for FENAPAPA producers on how to produce certified seed potatoes. After the workshop, producers would not only be able to improve their potato production, but they also would offer a new product to sell to other producers.  Dr. Johnson also conducted workshops on proper management and storage of seed potatoes.

Dr. Johnson also left a series of recommendations to greatly improve storage areas. As a result of Dr. Johnson’s visit, FENAPAPA improved their facilities by adding wind and temperature control. By February 2016, FENAPAPA had already adopted all the recommendations. FENAPAPA producers eagerly await the next potato harvest in October 2016 to see if, finally, their potatoes are disease-free and have increased yields. Dr. Johnson said:

“The trip had a dramatic effect on me. I have a passion for international agriculture, particularly helping people eat better and improve their life through better agricultural practices. Guatemala is a poor nation with half the people living below the poverty line and 15 percent at extreme poverty (various internet sites). The farmers I met and hopefully helped were pleased beyond words that someone with knowledge would come to the Guatemala highlands and walk on their farm to help them. The less they had, the more they wanted to give. This would move anyone. More people need to see what I saw, feel what I felt, to realize how fortunate some people are, simply by where they were born. I look forward to returning to Guatemala for future assignments. The Farmer-to-Farmer program is terrific.” 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Developing a Beef Grading System in Nicaragua

One major focus of Partners' livestock value chain approach in Nicaragua is to improve competitiveness in export beef markets by developing a national quality control and grading system. Back in July 2015, F2F volunteer Ken Ayers, a retired USDA beef grading and certification expert, traveled to Nicaragua to conduct trainings for Nicaraguan packing house employees on how to analyze the maturity of carcasses by evaluating the size, shape, and ossification of the bones and cartilages.

Ken Ayers teaches a beef packing house worker how to evaluate carcasses 
In March 2016, Ayers once again traveled to Nicaragua - this time with fellow F2F volunteer Marty O’Connor, also a retired USDA beef grading and certification expert – to follow up on his prior F2F assignment with National Cattleman’s Commission of Nicaragua (CONAGAN) and Nicaragua Chamber of Beef Industry Exports (CANICARNE) in July 2015. Mr. Ayers and Mr. O’Connor conducted beef quality grading and certification workshops with senior officials at CANICARNE and CONAGAN, indicating carcass evaluation methods to identify the maturity and quality of meat. Upon returning from the assignment, Mr. Ayers noted, “the young natural grass fed animals [in Nicaragua] are very nice…and people in the U.S. are eating and wanting more of this natural grass fed beef and are willing to pay more for them.” Although the establishment of a Nicaraguan grading and certification process is an incremental process, both F2F Nicaragua staff and hosts alike are confident that the efforts will bear results and stakeholders along the entire beef value chain – especially smallholder cattle ranchers – will benefit.

Stay tuned as Partners continues to work with CONAGAN, CANICARNE, and the Nicaraguan government to establish the national grading and certification system!


Ken Ayers and Marty O'Connor visit a beef packing house in March 2016

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Value of Climate Services

F2F Volunteer, Armando Milou, trained
banana producers in the Dominican Republic
in disaster risk management practices
by Orli Handmaker, F2F Program Recruiter

Today is Earth Day, a day to honor the planet and its many resources. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day is now observed in over 193 countries each year. Here at Partners, we are committed to promoting economic growth in an environmentally sustainable way. Agriculture and natural resource management are inextricably linked to the health of our planet and many Farmer-to-Farmer assignments have an environmental component. Today we are highlighting the value of climate services for properly managing the Earth's resources. 

Every morning, before getting ready for the day, I check the weather on my smart phone. I want to know the weather forecast so I can best prepare for the day: the forecast tells me how many layers I need to wear, what shoes will be most practical for the day, or whether or not I need to bring an umbrella with me. Many people around the world check the weather for the same reasons and many people, like myself, take this service for granted.

The availability of the daily weather forecast on my phone is known as a climate service. Climate services are a key component of disaster risk management and makes climate data, knowledge, and/or information readily available to the public. Furthermore, climate services are tools that "enhance users’ knowledge and understanding about the impacts of climate on their decisions and actions." For me, access to climate services allows me to make trivial decisions, such as whether or not to carry an umbrella or wear a coat. However, to our F2F farmers, information from climate services can have much greater implications.

Beyond the daily weather forecast, examples of climate services include early warning systems, topographical maps, vegetation maps, information sharing platforms, long-term weather forecasts, historical weather data, and projections of future climate conditions. Climate services provide farmers with the necessary information to figure out what crops to plant, when to plant them, and where to plant them. Climate services help farmers adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change by providing information on when and how to irrigate their fields and how to prepare for extreme weather events. Research has shown that access to climate services can decrease crop losses and increase farmers' ability to bounce back after extreme weather events.

F2F volunteer Robert Halman training extension agents in the DR on climate
change adaptation and mitigation practices
Unfortunately, throughout the developing world, there is a lack of available climate services; and farming without access to climate services is comparable to driving with closed eyes-- moving forward with no knowledge of what lies ahead or when to change course. In the Dominican Republic, Partners of the Americas works with organizations that have access to weather and soil moisture stations. F2F volunteers are currently working with these organizations to ensure that information on when to irrigate banana crops and how much water to apply is shared with producers on a daily basis. Future F2F volunteers will also work with these organizations on data analysis and interpretation of meteorological data generated by local meteorological stations. By making this information readily available, farmers are able to make more informed decisions on their farms, thereby contributing to a greater level of economic security.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Value of an Informed Decision: Why Cost-Benefit Analysis is Key

For all decisions we make in life, the outcome is usually better if we take the time to consider all of our options before deciding. When contemplating our options, it is important to analyze each of them and figure out the positive and negative aspects that correspond with each possible path. That is where cost-benefit analysis comes in. Cost-benefit analysis is the process through which decisions are evaluated. We may not realize it, but we regularly perform basic cost-benefit analyses throughout our day. Take the following example: "Should I walk to my meeting or take a cab?" Answering that question usually takes less than a minute; but in that time, we consider the benefits (pros) and costs (cons) of each option: A cab will get me there more quickly, but it will also cost me money. Walking will take me longer, but it is free. We consider these factors and then decide what is most important. Maybe the cost of the cab is more than you would like to spend, so you walk, even if it means you might be late. Maybe being late to this meeting would cause other problems, so the cost of the cab is worth it to you. Either way, you consider the outcomes of each decision before acting.

F2F Volunteer Laila Salimi taught women
farmers in Nueva Guinea, Nicaragua
how to perform a cost-benefit analysis.
For farmers who participate in our F2F program, the decisions they face each week often have more serious implications. When making decisions about whether to plant a new crop or continue with an old one, process value-added products or stick with raw agricultural products, sell products in one place versus another, or invest in new technologies, there are many factors to consider. Many of our F2F volunteers work to educate farmers, associations, and other organizations on how to perform cost-benefit analyses and make informed decisions.


Formal cost-benefit analyses are used in business decisions around the world and can be rather complex. The first part of a cost-benefit analysis is monetary and requires the ability to predict yields and calculate potential costs, revenues, losses, and profits. We have sent several F2F volunteers to the field to focus on this with our host organizations. F2F volunteers teach how to predict their yields using climate information services, how to keep records of their yields, costs, and revenues, and how to use that information to better predict how much a future decision could cost or benefit them.


Beyond the monetary part of a cost-benefit analysis, F2F volunteers stress the importance of considering the intangible costs and benefits that come with business decisions. This is the other part of a strong cost-benefit analysis: what non-monetary factors will affect the outcome of the decision? Some economists try to attach a monetary value to these factors.



F2F Volunteer Carmen Pacheco-Borden with Ngabe-Bugle
Women in Panama
Recently, F2F volunteer Carmen Pacheco-Borden traveled to Panama to work with women in Ngabe-Bugle communities who wanted to learn how to process and can tomatoes. Beyond teaching proper canning and preserving techniques, Carmen also taught the women how to calculate the monetary and non-monetary costs and benefits of processing and canning their tomatoes. The costs included processing the tomatoes, as well as the time and labor inputs involved in the production. Carmen also discussed the possible benefits that could come from processing tomatoes, such as the potential decrease in product loss due to tomato rot and the potential for increased revenues from the higher price a can of processed tomatoes can earn relative to raw tomatoes.

In the case of the Ngabe-Bugle women in Panama, or when deciding whether to walk or take a cab, once all the information (monetary and non-monetary) is compiled and laid out, you can see the total cost and the total benefit of the decision at hand. Regardless of whether it is large or small, complex or simple, all decisions come down to the opportunity cost: “For each possible outcome, what do I have to give up to gain the possible benefit?” In the end, the benefit is only worthwhile if you are willing to give up what is necessary to achieve it.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Call for Volunteers! Open F2F Assignments in Latin America

Partners of the Americas’ USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program provides technical assistance to individual farmers, farmer associations, agricultural cooperatives, education institutions, and others in the Dominican RepublicGuatemalaHaiti, and Nicaraguaas well as select other countries.  Farmer-to-Farmer recruits experienced agriculturalists who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents to complete short-term assignments (15-day minimum stay; trips are generally 2–3 weeks). Farmer-to-Farmer covers all assignment-related expenses. 
If you are interested in volunteering with the Farmer-to-Farmer program, please send your resume and all program inquiries to Orli Handmaker at Partners International in Washington, DC, or call (202) 524-6295.
Please see below for a list of all current opportunities.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Cacao Farm Management and Post-Harvest Processing Volunteer (Dominican Republic (April-June 2016: 2-3 weeks)
This F2F assignment will focus on farm management and post-harvest techniques with small-scale famers and at Reserva Zorzal – a 1,019 acre bird sanctuary and organic cacao demonstration farm in the northern mountain range of the Dominican Republic. The goal of this assignment is to help Reserva Zorzal with general technical support, agronomic support focused on establishing and maintaining over 100 acres of cacao, and improving their post-harvest processing practices. Reserva Zorzal is seeking a volunteer with extensive expertise and specialization in the cacao industry who has experience working in cacao production and post-harvest management, a degree in agronomy, botany or a related field, an understanding of the fine flavor chocolate market in the US and Canada, experience conducting trainings, and experience developing cacao farming systems. 
Soil Health and Fertility Expert (Dominican Republic (April-June 2016: 2-3 weeks)
This F2F assignment will focus on working with small farmers on soil fertility and health for cacao production at Reserva Zorzal – a 1,019 acre bird sanctuary and organic cacao demonstration farm in the northern mountain range of the Dominican Republic. The purpose of this assignment is to improve the health of Reserva Zorzal’s existing cacao tree population through organic, low-cost and location appropriate methods. Reserva Zorzal is looking for a volunteer who will work to encourage the presence and function of beneficial soil microbiology on their farm, and have the requisite technical and language skills to share that knowledge with farmers and technicians from surrounding communities. The volunteer should have at least conversational Spanish skills, have expertise in soil microbiology, the soil food web, biological nutrient cycling, pest and disease defense, practical application of soil microbiology, compost, balancing soil minerals, macro and micro nutrients, primary and secondary plant metabolites, nutrient density and plant immunity, and practical application of crop nutrition. 
Cost of Production Specialist (Bananas) (Dominican Republic (April-June 2016: 2-3 weeks)
Approximately 70% of banana producers in the Dominican Republic are small farmers that produce on fewer than 5 hectares of land. The purpose of this assignment is to train producers in calculating the cost of production for organic and conventional bananas. The volunteer should have experience determining the cost of production for bananas from both organic and conventional farms, experience making crop yield revenue projections, experience collecting information for value chain studies in banana production, experience creating information management systems for these types of data sets, experience training farmers and technicians in these areas, and the volunteer will preferably know Spanish.
Farm Administration Specialist (Dominican Republic (April-June 2016: 2-3 weeks)
A volunteer with experience in farm management is needed to train banana technicians and producers in how to improve techniques to manage small farms. Experience using existing resources (i.e., land, labor, and capital) to increase efficiency and productivity of a farm is needed. Knowledge of Spanish is helpful but not required. The purpose of this assignment is to assess current farm administration procedures at two banana associations and train executives, producers, and technicians on the principles of good farm administration to enable them to make better use of their resources of land, labor, and capital and get the most benefit from their farms. The volunteer will visit small farms to identify current practices and then provide training on how to improve farm administration. 

GUATEMALA
Greenhouse Production Expert (Ornamental Plants, Flowers, and Foliage) (Guatemala, March-May 2016: 2-3 weeks)
F2F is seeking a professional with experience in greenhouse production and management, new greenhouse production techniques for ornamental plants, and foliage and flower farms. Experience with tropical and subtropical crops is desired.The goal of this assignment is to teach ornamental plant producers about new greenhouse production and management methods. The volunteer will assist producers in addressing their greenhouse production problems and provide techniques and recommendations to increase production. Thee volunteer will also provide information on ways to access new information (i.e., trends, technology, etc.) on greenhouse management and production so they can continue to learn after the assignment is over. 
Expert in Propagation Methods (Ornamental Plants, Flowers, and Foliage) (Guatemala, March-May 2016: 2-3 weeks)
F2F is seeking a professional with experience in new propagation techniques for ornamental plants, foliage and flower production farms. It is important that the assigned volunteer is aware of innovative methods in propagation and fertilization for small and large producers of ornamental plants, foliage and flowers. The goal of this assignment is to teach growers of ornamental plants, flowers, and foliage about new propagation techniques. The hope is that by adapting new and improved methods and practices, the host will see an increase in production volumes followed by an increase in sales revenue and exports. The expected deliverables for this assignment are a manual of guidelines on propagation techniques, a trip report, at least one outreach activity, and recommendations for further work.
Data and Marketing Expert (Guatemala, April-June 2016: 2-3 weeks)
The purpose of this assignment is to assist DIDART (Didacticas Artesanales, or Artisanal Didactics) in developing a digital data management system and training beneficiaries in data entry, organization, and management so that they can track product sales. The volunteer for this project should have knowledge and experience in marketing strategies, international trade, accounts payable, data entry and data management, and in conducting trainings that improve organizational skills. DIDART is looking for a volunteer to help them develop a sales strategy and develop a digital financial system along with a strategy for data management. 

HAITI
Small Animal Health and Meat Quality Expert (Haiti, April-June 2016: 2-4 weeks)
The purpose of this assignment is improving best practices of small animal meat sales, and all factors that affect meat quality. This assignment will contribute to improving, expanding and increasing small animal production in Haiti in an effort to improve the local, national (short term goal) and international (long term goal) market between Haitian producers and buyers. The volunteer will assist in conducting analysis of current quality of small animal meat including goat, chicken and rabbit production, processing and transport, with a focus on nutrition as a factor of meat quality. The ideal volunteer should have experience in agribusiness and the meat market and a solid understanding of the HACCP system, and should have strong communication and presentations skills, be flexible, and be comfortable working with interpreters.
Coffee Agribusiness Management Expert (Haiti, April-August 2016: 4-6 weeks)
The purpose of this assignment is to provide trainings that will help various coffee producers, associations, and cooperatives to collect standardized data that can then be used for analysis and business management, as well as monitoring and evaluation of impact. By implementing basic business accounting and recordkeeping practices, training participants will also be more equipped to produce business documentation for seeking financing. The volunteer will work with the hosts to develop an analysis report with recommendations for improved practices. The volunteer should have experience in agribusiness development as well as experience developing standardized record keeping and data collection systems. The ideal candidate will have a solid understanding of coffee production systems, good writing and analytical skills, strong communication and presentation skills, be flexible, and be comfortable working with interpreters.

NICARAGUA
Ice Cream Processing Specialist (Nicaragua, January 2016: 2-3 weeks (17-31st preferred)):
A F2F volunteer is needed to hold workshops with dairy processors to begin or improve their current ice cream processing practices. The volunteer will also train processors how to ensure food safety and quality throughout the process. The ideal volunteer will have experience making artisanal ice cream, gelato, and/or other frozen dairy products and experience conducting workshops with adults of varying literacy levels. Spanish language skills and knowledge of processing other dairy products is preferred. 
Advertising Specialist (Nicaragua, February 2016: 2-3 weeks (1-21st preferred)):
A F2F volunteer is needed to work with the National Cattleman’s Commission (CONAGAN), the Nicaraguan Chamber of Beef Industry Exports (CANICARNE), and the Nicaraguan Dairy Chamber (CANISLAC) to develop messages, materials, and propaganda to support the current dairy and meat campaigns. The materials will also be used for the upcoming Nicaraguan Dairy Congress. The volunteer for this assignment should have experience developing advertising and marketing campaigns and some graphic design experience. A graduate degree in marketing, business, or a related field as well as Spanish language abilities and knowledge of dairy and meat markets are preferred. 
Graphic Designer (Nicaragua, Long-Term: 1-3 months (January-March preferred)):
A F2F volunteer is needed to work with the National Cattleman’s Commission (CONAGAN), the Nicaraguan Chamber of Beef Industry Exports (CANICARNE), the Nicaraguan Dairy Chamber (CANISLAC), and the Nicaraguan Institute for Development (INDE) to develop messages, materials, and propaganda to support the current dairy and meat campaigns. This volunteer should have extensive graphic design experience that includes experience designing logos and banners and developing advertising and marketing campaigns. Experience working with the dairy and meat markets is preferred, as is Spanish language fluency.
Cheese Processing Expert (HACCP Specialist) (Nicaragua, February 2016 (8-22 preferred): 2-3 weeks)
A F2F volunteer is needed to work with cheese processors to ensure that their processes are hygienic and safe. The volunteer will conduct workshops with the processors on best management practices for making hard cheeses (gouda and cheddar). The volunteer will also conduct theoretical and hands-on trainings in HACCP for improved quality and hygiene. ItThe right candidate for this assignment will have experience conducting workshops in and presentations on HACCP and experience making hard cheeses and conducting trainings on processing hard cheeses. It is preferred that the volunteer have basic Spanish skills, experience working in a developing country, and a degree in agriculture, agribusiness, or a related field.
Artificial Insemination Bovine Specialist (Nicaragua, April 2016: 2-3 weeks)
An F2F volunteer is needed to train veterinarians and others stakeholders in the cattle industry in best practices regarding bovine artificial insemination. The volunteer will provide theoretical and practical hands-on trainings and workshops on artificial insemination. It is expected that at the end of the assignment the hosts will be able to properly artificially inseminate cows in the Quality Calf Production Project. The volunteer needs to have a graduate degree in veterinary medicine, animal science, or a related field, experience conducting workshops and trainings on artificial insemination, and conversational Spanish skills. The volunteer should be flexible and it is preferred the volunteer have experience working in developing countries. 
Embryo Transplant Bovine Specialist (Nicaragua, April 2016: 2-3 weeks)
An F2F volunteer is needed to train veterinarians and others stakeholders in the cattle industry in best practices regarding bovine embryo transplants. The volunteer will provide hands-on technical assistance and workshops transplant bovine embryos. Theoretical and practical workshops will include artificial insemination in cattle breeding, estrus synchronization, synchronization treatments, collection techniques, classification and embryo transfer. The volunteer needs to have a graduate degree in veterinary medicine, animal science, or a related field, experience conducting workshops and trainings on embryo transfers, experience in estrus synchronization for the implantation of embryos, and conversational Spanish skills. The volunteer should be flexible and it is preferred the volunteer have experience working in developing countries. 

FLEX
Retail Marketing Specialist (Colombia, April 2016, 2-4 weeks (April 5-30th preferred))
An F2F volunteer is needed to assist Zue Cosmetics, a natural cosmetic manufacturing company based in Cali, Colombia, in developing media, brand positioning, and marketing strategies for entry into U.S. retail stores. The volunteer will train Zue Cosmetics staff on key tips to increase brand promotion when selling in U.S. retail. The volunteer will also assist in designing a road map for initial product positioning during its opening in August 2016 at Whole Foods Market, including recommendations on promotions and in-store demonstrations. The ideal volunteer will be a U.S. retail marketing specialist with experience in developing strategies for marketing and brand positioning of products in U.S. retail stores. It is preferred the volunteer have knowledge of the Whole Foods market, and the markets of other similar stores that Zue could target. The expected deliverables for this assignment are a marketing strategy for U.S. retail stores, guidelines for in-store product promotional strategies and demos, a manual on month-to-month brand operations management, an outreach activity, a blog post, a trip report, and recommendations for further work.
Greenhouse Specialist (Guyana, June-August 2016: 2-3 weeks)
The general objective of the assignment is for the volunteer to visit shadehouse vegetable production enterprises that are using the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) System or the Floating Root (FR) System, observe the functioning of the respective systems and common practices, and advise the growers on what changes they should make. The volunteer will hold workshops with the producers to discuss common challenges and solutions and educate them on the best practices for successful NFT and FR systems. The volunteer must be qualified in greenhouse management and have working knowledge of NFT and FR systems. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Photos from the Field

Partners Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) volunteers have been out working all over Latin America and the Caribbean, helping to improve agricultural production, processing, marketing, and environmental management. Below are some recent photos from the field... 

Vanessa Campoverde examining plants with a host in Guatemala

Maria Moreno (center, wearing F2F hat) and Rick Hall (back) 
with students from the Jarabacoa Environmental School 
in the Dominican Republic
Dan Culbert (left) and Shawn Steed (center), with Jorge Dieguez,
producer and owner of La Floresta (right) in Guatemala

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Encouraging Conservation: Payment for Ecosystem Services

In developed and developing economies alike, there is economic incentive to deforest land for other uses, such as farmland. This is because the crops can be sold at a profit, while leaving the forest alone results in no profit. However, although forests do not turn a profit by standing there, they provide a wealth of benefits to the communities that
Deforested land in the DR
surround them and to the global climate. For example, forests provide raw materials, promote soil fertility and prevent soil erosion, stabilize slopes and prevent landslides. Forests are spaces for hiking and adventure, provide habitat and shade, regulate local climates, and remove pollutants from the atmosphere and absorb and store carbon dioxide.


The benefits of forests described above are all examples of ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are defined as any positive benefit that ecosystems provide to people. The UN sponsored Millennium Ecosystem Assessment recently identified the major categories of ecosystem services: Provisioning (providing material or energy outputs), Regulating (moderating natural phenomena), Supporting (maintaining habitats and biodiversity), or Cultural (relating to tourism, aesthetics, and recreation). The ecosystem services forests provide fall under
Forested land in the DR
each of those categories. From this perspective, forests are obviously valuable, but again forests left alone do not turn a profit, while cutting them down does. Therefore, forests are being cut down around the world at a rate faster than they can regrow. So, how do we change that? How do we encourage conservation without putting people out of jobs or removing their source of income? 


For economists, the answer is simple: give landowners economic incentives to conserve forests and/or to cut them down only at sustainable rates. To do this, economists start by estimating the monetary value of the ecosystem services the forests provide. Attaching monetary value to ecosystem services allows economists to determine the optimal amount governments would have to pay land owners in exchange for a promise to conserve their land for a certain period of time. The optimal amount has to be equal or greater to the potential income a landowner could gain by using the land immediately for other purposes, otherwise, there would still be no economic incentive to conserve the land. Payment for ecosystem services (PES) creates a market for conservation. Without PES, ecosystem services are on their own socially and environmentally valuable. With PES, ecosystem services become economically valuable, too.

F2F Volunteers Glen Juergens, Bill Ryburn,
and Dave Lombardo with field staff and hosts in the DR
Over the last couple of years, F2F volunteers Glen Juergens, Bill Ryburn, and Dave Lombardo have worked with hosts on multiple assignments in the Dominican Republic to help them figure out how they can encourage reforestation, healthy management of forested land, and conservation of forested land through PES. The F2F volunteers educated local NGOs on how to create a PES system, how to calculate the optimal payment amounts, and how to properly implement a PES system so that it would garner the best results. F2F is also planning subsequent assignments to follow up on this work. The long-term goal is increased conservation, economically and environmentally sustainable land use practices, and a more secure future for landowners in the Dominican Republic.

Ecosystem services can be small, large, direct, or indirect; they can be provisioning, regulating, supporting, or cultural. But they can’t be fully recreated by humans. Therefore, conserving ecosystems is essential if we want to continue benefiting from their services, and PES is one viable way to encourage conservation around the world.