Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Promotional Video for the Nicaraguan Cattle Industry Created by FTF Volunteers

Farmer to Farmer volunteers Cheryl Diermyer and Lauren Rosen traveled around Nicaragua to put together a video that highlights the cattle and dairy farming industries. The volunteers interviewed farmers, business owners and others to bring to light the importance of consuming local dairy products. The consumption of local meat and dairy products is important for nutritional and health reasons and it helps the local economy. The video is being aired on local TV stations and in schools and is being promoted by cattle and dairy farmer associations.

Farmer to Farmer works with the whole dairy value chain in Nicaragua, even the marketing/media competent that is generally out of reach for the producers and cooperatives. Watch this video to get a glimpse into the dairy and cattle industry in Nicaragua:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Guyana: Land of Many Waters

Guyana is known as the Land of Many Waters. As a matter of fact, rivers are often the best means to reach certain areas in Guyana. The capital city, Georgetown, lies below sea level. This makes for a unique experience for FTF volunteers, and those whose assignments bring them to these parts of Guyana often enjoy the adventure and scenery. The Essequibo is Guyana's major river, draining many of the rivers from the interior of the country. Guyana is a beautiful country with rich biodiversity. Below are photos from various FTF staff and volunteer trips over the years. Enjoy!

FTF Field Staff pose for a shot on the way to Mainstay, to visit the pineapple growers
Amerindian mother teaches her daughter to swim
These stilts are helpful in case of flooding

Automobile ferry

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

FTF Volunteer Shares Techniques for Food Preservation and Processing

In the Dominican Republic, Farmer to Farmer volunteer, Ralph Bucca, provided workshops and hands-on trainings on the preservation and processing of fruits and vegetables. At the University ISA, the volunteer gave presentations on the use of solar food dryers and, with much help from the participants, they all constructed a solar dryer. Amongst the participants in the workshops were 30 university students, the Director of the Department of Food Science and Technology, and the Director of Appropriate Technology for Peace Corps/Dominican Republic.

The workshop participants at Univeristy ISA show off their newly constructed solar food dryer.

The university students prepare bananas, peppers, tomatoes and eggplant to test out the new solar dryer.
In addition to trainings at universities, the volunteer visited a mango dehydration business. The volunteer found that the current solar dryer design at their facility is allowing for too much humidity to enter and therefore, not allowing the mango to properly dry. Recommendations to the construction and design were provided.  Solar drying is an inexpensive and feasible way to preserve food and add value to the producers current fruit and vegetables crops.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Guyana FTF Program Helps Farmers Reach Goal of Exporting

Volunteers Trevor Hylton and Brian Rosa examine butternut squash crop with Hauraruni members
Over the past 18 months or so, Partners' Farmer to Farmer Program has been assisting the Haururuni Friendly Farmers Society in their shadehouse and in-field production of vegetables. You may remember previous blog posts about their efforts and challenges - growing crops in very sandy soils, experimenting with shadehouse production of vegetables and other technologies.

We are excited to announce that their hard work has paid off and Hauraruni has reached its goal: they have recently exported their first crop to Antigua and Barbados! Whereas only 60% of the crop - butternut squash - was expected to be deemed export quality, a startling 91% was determined to be high enough quality for export. The farmers are able to sell the remaining crop to local markets, and they are planning to send a 200 lb sample to New York City. This achievement is a significant success since small-scale farmers in Guyana are rarely able to produce a sufficient amount of crops of export quality and, even so, to make the linkages to export markets.

FTF Volunteers meet with IICA Representative Mr. Jean
Their success did not come easily. This article in the Kaieteur News Online denotes the many obstacles faced by Hauraruni but also their resourcefulness. In the words of FTF Volunteer Pete Wotowiec, "they... are very astute business people, sincere, and hard working." In addition to Partners of the Americas, the Farmers Society has solicited assistance from various international organizations such as the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) and the USAID Guyana Trade and Investment Support (GTIS). Over these many months the Farmer to Farmer Program has worked together with Hauraruni and these organizations to increase knowledge and make improvements in hydroponics, pesticide safety, drip irrigation and fertigation, greenhouse management, and crop nursery management among others. Below are pictures taken over the course of the past year at Hauraruni.
Hauraruni Friendly Farmers Society Chairman Mr. Fredericks working in shadehouse, 2009
Mr. Fredericks explains problems with soil preparation, April 2010
Fields were being prepared for first crop, papaya, during visit of Volunteer Pete Wotowiec in June 2010
Volunteers and Chairman Fredericks taking  a break from harvesting squash, Sept 2010
Assessing vegetables produced with hydroponics, Sept 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

World Food Day - United Against Hunger - October 16, 2010

World Food Day is an event designed to increase awareness, understanding and informed, year-around action to alleviate hunger. It is observed each October 16th in recognition of the founding of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The theme of this year’s observance is “United Against Hunger” chosen to recognize the efforts made in the fight against world hunger at national, regional and international levels.

In order to overcome hunger and food insecurity, we need to increase global food production without degrading soils and the environment. To achieve food secure populations, it is necessary to improve access, availability, stability, and quality of food. Partners’ Farmer to Farmer Program is contributing to food security and fighting hunger in the communities and countries where we work. Farmer to Farmer volunteers have assisted cooperatives, businesses, small farmers, and associations to improve their practices, yielding more crops and higher profits giving families more purchasing power to buy healthy food and making more food available in local markets. Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy lifestyle.

A few examples of Partners’ Farmer to Farmer contributions to food security and hunger relief:

Nicaragua – Small-scale dairy production is a tool for poverty alleviation and for increasing food security. Farmer to Farmer has been assisting producers in improving the quantity and quality of their milk production so they can increase profits and have more ability to purchase food and necessary items for their families. This also helps the consumers because they have access to better quality and more diversified dairy products in local and regional markets.

GuyanaFarmer to Farmer has been supporting vegetable production which contributes directly to food security. Families have access to fresh local vegetables and the producers are expanding production with new irrigation technologies. These inputs allow for higher quality crops, meaning better produce for the consumers and higher profits for the producers.

Haiti – Rabbit production supports food security efforts in many ways. Rabbit meat is a healthy protein source in rural communities and the producers can use the income from selling rabbits to purchase other foodstuffs. Additionally, rabbit production is a reliable, income generating activity ensuring available food during times of instability. For example, during the earthquake in January of this year, communities had limited access to food outside of their communities so rabbits were a necessary and essential component to family diets.

Dominican Republic – Greenhouse vegetable production is an incoming-generating activity for groups of women and it contributes to community and regional food security. Greenhouses ensure the availability of nutritious vegetables in rural areas and offer a more stable system of production since the crops are less prone to the many threats of open field production.

On behalf of World Food Day, Farmer to Farmer would like to thank all the volunteers and staff that contribute to overcoming food insecurity, hunger and poverty on this day and every day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Global Giving Match!

Global Giving is matching donations at 30% or more from now until October 21, or until funds run out! Partners of the Americas' Farmer to Farmer Program supports a project on Global Giving called "Feeding Families". Donations support agricultural development and food production in the mountain village of Grand Boulage, Haiti, and FTF volunteers supplement these materials and inputs with training. Support the project now and make your donation count even more!

For more information on the project or on FTF activities in Grand Boulage, click on the image below or on the "Grand Boulage" Label on the right hand column of this blog.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Some Outcomes of Farmer to Farmer Assistance

What difference does the Farmer to Farmer Program make? Below are just a few outcomes of Partners of the Americas' FTF Program from this year. Thank you to all the volunteers and partners who have contributed to these successes!

And remember, a little can go a long way. For example, in Haiti the difference between a child going to school and not going to school is only $50/year in school fees, which is out of reach for the majority of families. Our Haitian staff report that 74% of improved rabbit producers working with FTF are able to send their children to school.

Volunteer Trevor Hylton discusses butternut squash packaging with Hauraruni FFS Chairman and Packaging Facilities Manager
Before FTF assistance, the Hauraruni Friendly Farmers Society was limited to agricultural production of some vegetables and beans only in shadehouses and for local markets because of the very sandy soils in the area. With drip irrigation technology and training, they now have the capacity to produce higher-value field crops destined for niche markets.The farmers have cultivated a ten acre plot and have recently begun harvesting their first crop of butternut squash, which is being packaged at the Guyana Marketing Corporation Packaging Facility for export.

Volunteer Mark Kopecky discusses forages in Nicaragua
19 farms implemented improved pasture management systems and they were able to increase the amount of feed available to their cattle. As a result, milk production increased by 25%, from 3 liters to 3.75 liters per cow, per day.

With the assistance of Farmer to Farmer, milk quality is improving. The producers have changed their practices and are better controlling mastitis, managing the hygiene and timing of the milk process. This improvement of quality allows for producers to receive $0.28/liter compared to $0.25/liter previously.

 Dominican Republic
Volunteer Ben Faber demonstrates tree pruning in the DR
FTF volunteers provided hands-on training to more than 60 avocado, mango and pineapple producers and extension technicians, including training in avocado tree pruning. By pruning, the farmers train the trees so there are no low-hanging, horizontal limbs or branches that permit fruit to contact the soil, causing scarring damage and contamination with fungi. The producers believe there has been a 30% decrease in pests and diseases since Farmer to Farmer has been providing assistance.

Beekeeper Oles Basille (right) proudly shows off a gallon of his honey with FTF Country Coordinator Benito Jasmin
One beekeeper has begun including a portion of the comb in his honey jars since he now produces beautiful natural comb. As a result he has expanded his sales to a venue in Port au Prince. Demand is high, and he has bought 6 more acres of land. With a local carpenter, he has built 14 more hives.

Commercial rabbit production units (30-50 does) have increased from 1 to 10; Family commercial rabbit production units (avg. 12-16 does) have increased from 0 to 20; and Individual rabbit production units with 4-6 does have increased from 24 to 1090 and those with 2 does have increased from 7 to 600.

Monday, October 4, 2010

UN Agency Confirms the Work of Farmer to Farmer in Nicaragua

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recently published about small-scale dairy production. The study confirms that working with the dairy value chain is a way out of poverty and a sustainable income generating activity for small-scale producers.  

"Better farm management practices, expanding dairy herd sizes and increasing milk yields could easily improve smallholder labour productivity, which currently is rather low. "Dairy sector development can therefore be a potent tool for poverty reduction," the UN report said." 

"Any dairy development strategy, the FAO/IFCN study recommends, must not exclusively focus on dairy producers but improve competitiveness throughout the entire dairy production chain, targeting farmers, input suppliers, milk traders, processors, retailers and others. Creating value in every part of the chain ultimately also benefits consumers who are then able to obtain more dairy products for the same amount of money or need to spend less for the dairy products they consume."

The Farmer to Farmer Program in Nicaragua is doing just this! 

To read more see the following link.

Traditional hand-milking is still the most commonly used technique in Nicaragua.

Friday, October 1, 2010

From the Archives: Beekeeping in the Americas

Over the years, Partners of the Americas' Farmer to Farmer Program has provided training to beekeepers in many countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, including Panama, Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Antigua and Haiti. Beekeeping has many environmental, nutritional, and health benefits in addition to being a source of income for farmers and their families. Many countries in the region also have a comparative advantage in beekeeping due to climatic factors - Nicaragua can produce honey for 8 months out of the year!

Here are a few photos from the archives, combined with a recent one from our Beekeeping project in Haiti. Enjoy!
Antigua, 2003
Bolivia, 2002
Haiti, 2009