Friday, May 27, 2011

Mothers Day in Latin America/Caribbean

Several of the countries where Partners' Farmer to Farmer Program is active celebrate Mother's Day this coming Sunday. Mothers play a critical role in economic and social development all over the world. Partners of the Americas' Farmer to Farmer Program would like to recognize and honor the tireless efforts of all of the mothers we work with, both local partners and US volunteers.

Young mother in the Dominican Republic. Photo credit: Justin Hackworth

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This Week in the Field

This past week, Partners has had many volunteers in the field working together with local groups on topics ranging from greenhouse integrated pest management to beehive inspection to organic production practices. Here are a few photos we have received from the field.

In the Dominican Republic, volunteers Tom Evans and Wally Pill consult with local technicians for the planning and management of greenhouses. Both Professors at the University of Delaware, this is their third FTF trip to the DR.
In Haiti, Florida Apiary Inspectors Doug Corbin and Rob Horsburgh inspect beehives (hive nucleus in this photo) together with Partners' FTF Field Officer Gerard Michel Joseph (Papy), visiting apiaries belonging to beekeepers who have long participated in the Program as well as apiaries new to the Program. Mr. Corbin remarked that he has seen many improvements in beekeeping in the North of Haiti since his last visit in 2008. The volunteers traveled in collaboration with FAVACA.

In Guyana, FTF Field Officer Ryan Nedd (left) awards a Farmer to Farmer T-shirt and hat to Nicholas Waldron, hydroponics shadehouse operator, to express thanks for his participation in the "Harvesting Green Gold" hydroponics training video. FTF Volunteers Cheryl Diermyer and Pat Fellows, from the University of Wisconsin, recently created this video which is described and embedded below in this FTF Blog.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Andremene Solomon has come a long way

In the town of Grand Boulage in the mountains of Haiti, Andremene Solomon is the primary caregiver for her entire family. Her husband has a physical disability, and she earns the bulk of the income that supports their family of six. Andremene started receiving training and assistance from the Partners of the Americas' Farmer to Farmer Program and Makouti Agro Enterprise a number of years ago as part of the rabbit production project in her town.  

Since her involvement in the program, she has increased her household income by producing and selling rabbits. She has been able to sell enough rabbits to pay for the school tuition for all four of her children, costing 2,500 Haitian dollars (~$61USD) per year, for those in secondary school.  She has also used her income for medical fees as well as helping nourishing people back to health by feeding them rabbit meat. Her household food consumption has also increased. 

Andremene (pictured above, 2nd from the right, with other producers and FTF and Makouti staff) said the best recommendation she has received from a Farmer to Farmer volunteer was  to expand the variety of food she gave her rabbits to include wheat bran, oranges, sweet potato, syrup, and salt powder. This made her rabbits stronger and prevented them from dying. She hopes the Program will continue to get more people involved.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Jamaica: From the Archives, and Toward the Future

Partners of the Americas' Farmer to Farmer volunteers have been working together with Jamaican producers for more than five years in areas such as vegetable farming, pig farming, and organic production. While the Program peaked in 2007 and 2008, Partners' FTF volunteers continue to maintain professional relationships with their counterparts in Jamaica and travel to provide ongoing assistance. This continued partnership has yielded positive results over the years, such as the Santoy Cooperative becoming a national leader in tropical protected agriculture structures. An interdisciplinary team composed of a plant pathologist, irrigation specialist, and soil scientist will return to Jamaica next month to continue collaboration with partners such as the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). Below are some photos "from the archives".
Field demonstration, 2005
Organic production training, 2006
Students help with greenhouse construction, 2008

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Guyana Videos Demonstrate Hydroponics Success

Two volunteers from Wisconsin recently traveled to Guyana to assist with producing two videos, the first a training video on the topic of hydroponics, and the other featuring the success story of "Valo", who has received assistance from several FTF volunteers over the years. See below for more information and to watch the videos! The volunteers, Cheryl Diermyer and Patricia Fellows, have also posted to the blog recently, giving more details about their activities in Guyana, and Cheryl's "Si a la Leche Campaign" video from her past visit to Nicaragua is also linked to this blog.

"Green Gold" is a hydroponics training video featuring the stories of two successful shadehouse producers from Guyana. Partners' Farmer to Farmer volunteers have recently begun to support this shadehouse project, which is funded by CASRI and the MIF and implemented by the Guyana Chapter of Partners of the Americas. The project supports both commercial and small-scale (household) vegetable production. The video will be used to train future producers.

"Valo's Journey" tells the story of Mr. Fitzroy "Valo" Valentine, his past struggles with field farming, and his success with shadehouse and hydroponic production of vegetables. In the past 9 or so months, Mr. Valentine has worked with FTF volunteers Drs. Henry Spiller and Alfred Aleguas (Pesticide Safety Specialists), Pete Wotowiec (Greenhouse Specialist), Trevor Hylton (Crop Nursery Management Specialist), and Brian Rosa (Composting Specialist). He and the Cooperative to which he belongs, Marfriends Cooperative Land Society Ltd., has received a great deal of support from Farmer to Farmer over the years.

Monday, May 2, 2011

FTF Volunteer Survey Feedback

We conducted a survey of FTF volunteers who traveled recently with Partners of the Americas' Farmer to Farmer Program, and we received some good responses. Thanks to all who participated!

When asked if they would volunteer again with Partners' Farmer to Farmer Program, 98% of respondants said yes. 72.4% of our volunteers who responded reported giving group presentations on their trip once they return to the US. More than 57% of volunteers had leveraged some funds or resources such as donated equipment for their trip, and 74% of volunteers remain in touch with their local host after they return home to continue troubleshooting issues and finding solutions to challenges. Below are a selection of comments which show the importance that many of our volunteers attribute to the Farmer to Farmer Program. Thank you to our wonderful volunteers!

“Teaching and research in agriculture at the University of Wisconsin for 25 years, University of Florida for 3 years, and Iowa State University for 4 years has been rewarding, but the 2 weeks in Nicaragua were very special. There is no question that I learned more than I taught during that time. The two-way exchange of ideas was marvelous and in many ways very similar to my experiences with farmers here. Farmer-to-Farmer is a great program.”

“This is an exceedingly important and valuable program to support local capacity building. Please continue.”

“Partners serves a vital function in international agriculture development.”

“I am a big supporter of US soft diplomacy. Also, I believe that the adoption of appropriate technology in agricultural is absolutely necessary for food security and the well being of rural people in the developing world. FTF speaks to both of these.”

“Working with Makouti and Partners on my FtF assignment was a project I will remember for a long time and one that I really enjoyed.”

“Thank you for the opportunity to make believing become reality.”

“Farmer to Farmer is an excellent program that allows the exchange of information at a global level. The program is well organized and the volunteer information is excellent.”

“With each trip to Haiti I become more enthused on future visits. Always look forward to the next opportunity, in Haiti or wherever my expertise is needed.”

“Thank you for the opportunity, and privilege to assist in a small way.”

“I think [the DC staff is] doing a fantastic job in recruiting volunteers, orientation, and providing the comforting words to new volunteers. They have great teams to work with in country as well.”

“Overall a great experience and the program has much potential to make a difference.”

“I think Farmer to Farmer is a very good program. The farmers have benefited from it tremendously.”

“It has had a positive impact on me personally and professionally.”

“Keep up the good work!”