Thursday, July 29, 2010

Photos from the Field: A Volunteer in Action

Farmer to Farmer volunteer, Chase McNulty, teaches a veterinary student artificial insemination techniques.
Improving dairy farms and the whole dairy value chain are the main focus of activities for the
Farmer to Farmer Program in Nicaragua.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Forage Management in Nicaragua

Dr. Yoana Newman's Farmer to Farmer trip to Nicaragua was a collaboration between Partners of the Americas and FAVACA. Dr.Newman is an Assistant Professor at the University of Florida, with a specialization in forage production. The volunteer visited dairy farms and agricultural universities in Nicaragua to provide assistance and recommendations on improving 1) how forage grows, 2) forage quality, and 3) pasture management.
Dr. Newman provides a training in a non-traditional classroom.

Dr. Newman stops to pose with the dairy farmers!

Visiting a pasture to discuss proper management techniques.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fabrication of Bee Veils and Hives in Haiti

As promised following the "bee hat" post, here are some more photos and details on Sofie Geckler's visit to Haiti where she provided training in hive construction and bee veil fabrication, and assisted in transferring swarms to new hives. The photos below show some of her work, both in the North and South of Haiti. Sofie's Farmer to Farmer trip was carried out in partnership between Partners of the Americas and collaborating organization FAVACA.
Right: In the South of Haiti, many beekeepers still work in log hives. Most American beekeepers have not seen bees kept this way as the logs are more difficult to manage.

Below: Training in making veils and hives. Both are modified for ease of construction.

Below: Going into the beautiful countryside to transfer a wild colony into a new hive.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Photos from the Field: A Volunteer in Action

Farmer to Farmer volunteer, Linda Aines, works with two extension agents from the NGO - Surfuturo and two representatives from a local greenhouse association.  Linda helped the greenhouse association strategize new marketing techniques and design plans to grow their businesses.

The greenhouse sector offers significant benefits due to the existence of a growing domestic market and the consumption of nearly two million tourists who visit the Dominican Republic. There is increasing demand for bell peppers as well as other vegetables that can be grown in greenhouses year round. The Farmer to Farmer Program and Surfuturo are helping these small, locally owned greenhouse associations tap into these growing markets.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

FTF Humor: Bee Hat

It's good to wear a bee suit and bee veil when you're working in the hives. Here's one reason why. I've sent plenty of bee veils in our program photos, but this is the first "bee hat" I have witnessed. The lucky owner of the bee hat is Oles Bardeau, beekeeper and community leader from Aquin.

Let's get a close-up of that.

Many of the Haitian beekeepers that Farmer to Farmer works with have neither bee veils or bee suits. Perhaps ironically, the volunteer who snapped this shot was traveling on an assignment to provide training in constructing new beehives, as you see in the photo, as well as easy-to-make bee veils. Stay tuned for more on her trip. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Snapshot: Dominican Republic

One Wisconsin volunteer captured a few nice snapshots during an April visit to the Dominican Republic. She snapped this shot on the way to visit a greenhouse in the mountains. In the DR, the Farmer to Farmer Program works with several greenhouse associations managed by women. Working in the greenhouse provides the women with a viable economic activity.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Haiti and FTF: 6 Months after the Earthquake

July 12 marked the 6 month mark since the earthquake in Haiti. The Farmer to Farmer Program is not a relief program, however it has contributed to earthquake recovery in Haiti in several ways. The main way the Program contributes is indirectly, by continuously supporting farmers in their efforts to improve and increase  production, processing, marketing, and sales. Both food and income are at the top of the list of needs in Haiti. Partners' FTF Program is up and running full speed since May and continuing its work.

After the earthquake Makouti Agro Enterprise, a local Haitian cooperative agribusiness with whom Partners' FTF volunteers collaborate closely, was able to supply food for many in the north of Haiti, often free of charge to those in desperate need. With training from FTF volunteers over the years, Makouti operates a successful rabbit production facility near Cap Haitien and its members include producers and farmers throughout the country. The meat provides a much needed source of protein. Six months later, Makouti is negotiating 3 contracts which would potentially supply several thousand rabbits to Port au Prince. Makouti also works with the International Organization for Migration (United Nations), and our field staff report that they've had so much success with the rabbits that they are running out of space to keep them. (Photo, taken 4 days prior to the earthquake:  some Makouti members and farmers meet to discuss rabbit raising after having constructed new cages.)

Additionally, given the special circumstances the USAID FTF Program also funded the trips of three trauma counselors from Counselors Without Borders to travel to Haiti with Partners of the Americas. The counselors provided specialized training to various groups as well as FTF staff in recognizing and treating trauma symptoms following a natural disaster. Click here to read a recent report about their visit.

Monday, July 12, 2010

FTF Volunteer Shares Post - Harvest Techniques for Fruits and Vegetables

Please see photos of Farmer to Farmer volunteer, Dean Wheeler, while visiting pineapple and bell pepper packing plants in March in the Dominican Republic.

Mr. Wheeler is a seasoned Farmer to Farmer volunteer and has traveled the world donating his time to support farmers and agri-businesses with post-harvest techniques including proper packing, processing, and shipping methods. The packing facilities were extremely pleased and grateful for Mr.Wheeler's visit and have already begun implementing his recommendations. For example, the volunteer recommended that the bell peppers be washed and then dried under a fan system rather than by cloths. The cloths have the potential to carry bacteria from one pepper to the next which could increase the amount of spoilage. One switch, from cloths to fans, will improve quality, decrease spoilage rates and ultimately lead to an increase in sales and profits.

Aquaculture in Guyana

Here are a few nice shots from Guyana, showing volunteer Jason Licamele working with tilapia farmers. In this photo Jason is working with Mr. Persaud of Maharaja Oil Mills. In April Mr. Persaud explained to me how Jason greatly helped with the development of his airlifts, which function to push the effluent out of the nets. Other farmers described how his visit introduced to them the usefulness of liming ponds. Aquaculture is a nascent industry in Guyana and the farmers are striving to achieve the desired sale weight of the fish, however technical knowledge in this specialized area and infrastructure are not yet sufficient to fully support the industry.

I thought these photos show the beauty of Guyana and how much they enjoyed working together. Photo credits for the first and third pictures go to Kerron Riley.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Partners' FTF Program in the News: 2 Stories

 Two recent articles feature Farmer to Farmer volunteers who have traveled with the Program several times.

1. From "Bamboo Houses to the Rescue"
2. From the Huntsville Times: "Haiti's spirit draws Alabama A&M food specialist to island for 'working vacations'"

Did you know that Partners' Farmer to Farmer Program in Haiti actually has had the highest rate of return volunteers over the years? It must be true that Haiti's spirit draws people back.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Partners on Facebook!

Did you know that Partners of the Americas has a Facebook Page? If you are on Facebook, join the page to see frequent updates about Partners' various volunteer efforts and opportunities - youth traveling abroad, chapter and staff activities, program news, etc. There is also a section where fans of the Partners Facebook Page can upload photos and make wall posts.

The USAID Farmer to Farmer Program also has a Facebook Group Page. It's not used as much but the more who use it the more interesting it will be. Get in touch with FTF volunteers from around the world! This is not a Partners-specific site but was created with the intention of linking the global FTF Program: volunteers, organizations, and all. Click here to check it out. You'll notice the profile photo features our very own Shaun Francis from Guyana!

(The photograph is actually of pig farmers in Savannah La Mar, Jamaica, receiving training in 2006 from volunteer Morgan Morrow in Pig CHAMP software)