Friday, January 28, 2011

"Live" Update from the Brazilian Rainforest

While he's not busy writing notes toward improving the strategic plan of the Iracambi Atlantic Rainforest Reasearch and Conservation Center, FTF Volunteer Dale Beckmann is enjoying the great outdoors in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Through the Flex program, Dale is assisting Iracambi's leadership in building and improving rainforest conservation efforts for the future. Here are a few photos from his visit so far.

FTF Volunteer Dale Beckmann
View of the rainforest canopy from below

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

FTF Volunteer Assistance Featured in St. Kitts-Nevis Observer

The St.Kitts-Nevis Observer has published an article featuring Farmer to Farmer Volunteer Tom Syverud's take on the potential for organic production in this Caribbean nation. Tom has served previously as a FTF Volunteer with Partners of the Americas in Haiti and Nicaragua, and this was his first visit to St. Kitts. You can read more about his trip here. Thank you, Tom, for your continued volunteer efforts through Partners and the Farmer to Farmer Program.

Mr. Syverud training high school students in organic production

Monday, January 24, 2011

Farmer to Farmer featured in Nicaraguan Dairy Magazine!

The Farmer to Farmer Program was featured in the December 2010 edition of El Ganadero, a magazine publication of the Nicaraguan National Livestock Association. The 2-page article (see below) discusses the contributions that Farmer to Farmer volunteers made to the Nicaraguan dairy value chain in 2010. The article highlights the components of the dairy value chain and the important recommendations volunteers have made to the different sectors. There was a strong emphasis on primary production with improved forages and pastures and on milk processing with food safety and Good Manufacturing Practices trainings and workshops. Towards the end of 2010, volunteers started addressing the marketing and sales levels of the value chain. Farmer to Farmer volunteers worked with dairy cooperatives to carry out market studies, create marketing strategies and revitalize their milk and cheese packages and labels. The Farmer to Farmer Program looks forward to more volunteers and more host collaboration in 2011 and a continued dedication to the dairy industry.
El Ganadero magazine features photos of the following volunteers: Carlos Gonzalez (left, top), Josh Peissig (left, bottom), Ken Albrecht (right, top) and Jeff Neville (right, bottom).     

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Greetings from Partners' FTF Staff

This past week, all of Partners' Farmer to Farmer Program staff met in the Dominican Republic to share best practices in volunteer program management, monitoring and evaluation tools, and much more. It was a great opportunity for field staff to compare notes between countries, and to receive further M&E training from specialists from the University of Wisconsin Extension. We also shared our success stories and a lot of laughs. We wish to send our greetings and thanks to all of our colleagues, partners, and friends that we have made over the past TWENTY years of implementing the FTF Program (1991 - 2011).

From left to right, starting in the back: Anderson (Haiti), Gerard (Haiti), Juan (DR), Kelvin (Guyana), Arlen  (FTF Volunteer and Wisconsin Chapter member), Ryan (Guyana), Ronald (Nicaragua), Benito (Haiti), Daniel (Nicaragua), Rafael (DR), Peggy (Wash. DC), Elisa (Nicaragua), Meghan (Wash. DC), Ellen (U of Wisconsin), Jessie (Wash. DC), and Kerry (U of Wisconsin)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Integrated Farming in Guyana

A team of 3 volunteer specialists - Louis Landesman, Tamra Fakhoorian, and Vance Haugen - recently completed an assignment focusing on Integrated Farming Systems in Guyana, in collaboration with IPED- Guyana and FAVACA. Excerpts from Dr. Landesman's trip report, below, give and introduction to the ways that aquatic plant production, animal farming, and biogas activities can compliment one another in a productive partnership both for rural farmers in Guyana and farmers in the United States. You can also listen to this new radio interview on Sustainable Living, through blogtalkradio, to hear the volunteers present information on this topic. All three volunteers participate around minute 25.

Duckweed covering pond
 The purpose of my visit was to assess operations of integrated farming systems (IFS) with a view to recommending improved techniques for growing duckweed in integrated farming systems producing food and energy. This effort was supported with the help of two other team members: algae and integrated agriculture specialist Tamara Fakhoorian and biogas specialist, Vance Haugen. Our group visited approximately 30 farms near Georgetown, Linden, East and West Berbice and Santa Rosa in the Maruca area of Guyana.

An integrated farm is a combination of several farming activities that take place on small farms and rural households. Most rural households in Guyana keep chickens, a popular source of protein in other Caribbean nations as well as Guyana. Many households also have ducks. Both forms of poultry are fed with rice bran and other cheap ingredients such as kitchen scraps and broken rice. Some households also raise pigs as well using rice bran, broken rice, copra and surplus fruits and vegetables. Finally a few households had small fish ponds stocked with tilapia.

Manure from these farm animals is collected, mixed with water and added to an enclosed 10 to 20ft long plastic bag in which anaerobic digestion takes place. This biodigester provides methane gas for cooking. The remaining effluent from this biodigester can be used to fertilize vegetable gardens and duckweed ponds.

A key component of the integrated farm model is the duckweed pond. Duckweed, a floating vascular plant of the Lemnaceae family, grows very quickly and provides an easily digested protein supplement for poultry, livestock and fish. Duckweed can replace up to one third of the feed requirements of poultry and this would mean a significant savings for the householder.

Please contact Meghan Olivier,, or Louis Landesman if you would like a complete copy of the report.