Monday, August 31, 2009

More Photos from Haiti Trip

Here are some more photos from the small animal and beekeeping project in Haiti. Please see the previous blog entry to read about the trip. Enjoy the photos! Above: Speaking with sisters at Signeau, at their new rabbitry. Volunteer Myriam Kaplan-Pasternak helped them establish the rabbitry the previous week. The rabbits looked good - plenty of water, in the shade, eating their forage. They received their first next box and will hopefully begin breeding soon. Young rabbits enjoying some fruit near Cap Haitien. Commercial production rabbitry and Makouti rabbit training center. This site provides a good demonstration for producers. Group of young leaders from the community of Grand Boulage (South of Haiti) visiting rabbitries in Cap Haitien and receiving training from Makouti technicians in rabbit production, thanks to the Friends of Haiti. The Farmer to Farmer Program works with producers in the mountainous village of Grand Boulage. Every month, community leaders from various (40) areas in the North of Haiti convene to share reports from their villages on the progress of their production (honey, vegetables, coffee, rabbits, goats, etc.). They make up Makouti Agro Enterprise. Farmer to Farmer volunteers work with these leaders and their communities, providing opportunities for training and improvement, and through this cooperative the producers continue to share and receive follow-up support. Some Haitian beekeepers still work with primitive log hives. This hive, in Chantal (Southern Haiti) has been covered to protect the hive from predators. Log hives are difficult to inspect and manage. Farmer to Farmer volunteer Don Hopkins is currently in the South of Haiti, where he will assist such beekeepers in transitioning to modern hives. Here Benito, together with Bardeau, a beekeeper in Aquin, inspect a Kenya Top Bar hive. This type of hive is being piloted as a transition step between log and Langstroth hives. Beekeeper Nicodeme Pierre (center right) proudly displays his successful combs. They are heavy with all the honey! Mr. Pierre now harvests over 70 gallons of honey from his hives and is one of the many Farmer to Farmer success stories. Display stand at the fair in Cap Haitien. Anyone want to sample some honey? Here, displayed are gallons of Makouti honey and a case showing honey from various regions of Haiti. Depending on the available flowers, the honey varies from a light golden color, to a reddish color, and to a dark color. The glass cases contain bees and combs so people could view the honeybees in action. It was a success!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Staff Travel to Haiti to View Ongoing FTF Progress

Peggy Carlson, Program Director, and I recently traveled to Haiti to visit our local Chapter, staff, and ongoing projects. Please see below some photos and a brief summary of our trip. We hope this blog will be enjoyed by upcoming volunteers, returned volunteers and for all those who are interested in agriculture in Haiti. [photo: view of Aquin from hotel]

After our arrival in Port au Prince and some meetings there, we traveled throughout the South of Haiti (Signeau, Aquin, Les Cayes, Camp Perrin, Chantal, Jacmel, etc.) to meet with beekeepers who are involved with the program and also with farmers, association members, students, and others interested in learning more about involvement in the growing network of Haitian beekeepers. Through Farmer to Farmer and the efforts of Makouti Agro Enterprise, beekeepers in the North and increasingly in the South of Haiti are coming together to share experiences and solutions to their challenges. There is a wide spectrum of experience and types of hives – from log to Langstroth – and currently the beekeepers are experimenting with the use of a few Kenya Top Bar Hives, or Long Hives. Farmer to Farmer volunteers are actively working with the beekeepers to evaluate the effectiveness of their hives and improve management. [photo: inspecting hive for varroa mite]
After returning to Port au Prince, we flew to Cap Haitien where we inspected some more hives and also visited several rabbitries. Most rabbitries were community or family operations, some with more basic cages than others. Makouti’s “TechMaks” (technicians) have made much progress in working with the producers and following up on the volunteers’ recommendations, and you can see the pride on the faces of the farmers as they show you their rabbits. This project is growing rapidly thanks to our volunteers and Haitian counterparts.
On August 13-14, Cap Haitien put on its annual city fair, complete with a promotional stand for Makouti Agro Enterprise. Makouti exhibited honey from all over Haiti (plus New Jersey!) as well as live bees and honey comb, displayed in a specially-designed glass frame.The bees were a big attraction and a great educational tool. Makouti gave samples for people to taste and later served
BBQ rabbit. It was a hit! As usual, demand for the products was greater than production, so Farmer to Farmer has more work to do to help increase production. But we were pleased to see the progress in production and marketing made by the groups with whom we work. [photo: visiting community rabbitry in North]
In this video, Benito Jasmin (in voice) and Gerard Michel Joseph (FTF Field Staff) instruct local beekeepers on inspecting the Kenya Top Bar Hive.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Welcome to the Farmer to Farmer Blog

Partners of the America's Farmer to Farmer Program improves economic opportunities in rural areas of Latin America and the Caribbean by increasing food production and distribution and promoting better farm and marketing operations. The program focuses on select agricultural commodity chains and US volunteer experts provide specific technical assistance to small and medium-scale producers, agro-processors and others working at all levels of these chains. The Farmer to Farmer Program blends two goals: providing people-to-people level exchanges and promoting sustainable economic growth and development. This Farmer to Farmer Blog will connect our expert volunteers and provide a space to communicate experiences. Volunteers can post pictures, comments, reports and stories that they want to share with farmers and volunteers everywhere.