Monday, November 28, 2011

100 Donated Beehives to Haiti: Customs Cleared and Hives Received!

FTF Staff have fun while inspecting boxes of hive parts
Around this time last year, Partners of the Americas and its volunteers rose to the challenge of donating 100 new, quality beehives to Haiti. You can read more about the use of these hives and all those who contributed to making it happen in this previous blog post. We are happy to announce that the hives have finally completed their long journey and have arrived in the office of Makouti Agro Enterprise in Cap-Haitien!

FTF and Makouti staff discuss hive design as they construct a hive box
What does it take to ship new beehives to Haiti? Once funds were raised, the hives were ordered and shipped to a US storage site before being loaded onto a sea container. Shipment was delayed a few months due to the unrest and uncertainty around Haitian presidential elections and the run-off in early 2011. The hives were then shipped by sea container and arrived in the spring, but took some time to clear the customs process before being brought to a local storage site in Port au Prince. Towards the end of the summer, the hives were driven to the North of Haiti and have been unloaded for temporary storage in the office of Makouti Agro Enterprise. It was a long journey, but these hives will serve as a model to local carpenters, students, and beekeepers in Haiti as well as a reminder of the international partnerships developed through the Farmer to Farmer Program.

In addition to the invaluable support and donations made by FTF volunteer Virginia Webb of Mtn Honey, Mark Bennett at Dadant and Sons beekeeping supply company, and Leo Blumle and his shipping contacts, we would like to thank the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies for collaborating with Partners to arrange a fundraiser screening of the documentary Vanishing of the Bees.
Beekeeper Noe explains to FTF volunteers how his honey and hive construction activities have allowed him to begin constructing an improved home (seen in background) for his family. These hives will help his carpenters improve their design, resulting in more durable, long-lasting hives for Haiti.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

FTF Volunteers in the News

Farmer to Farmer volunteers have been in the news recently! Here are a few examples:

Dr. Henry Chan of Maylan Skincare traveled to a remote Amerindian village in Guyana to assist community members in developing new cosmetic products using crabwood tree oil. To read more about his "flex" FTF assignment, view the article here.

Spencer always takes polls about the usefulness of the information he shares
Volunteer Robert Spencer also published an article in an Alabama Cooperative Extension online publication about his recent trip to Haiti, which focused on meat quality control. Click here to view the article!

For any readers subscribed to the American Bee Journal, the November 2011 issue features a story by Rob Horsburgh about his experience as a volunteer beekeeper in Haiti. Rob traveled through our partner organization FAVACA. His efforts supported Partners' same Farmer to Farmer beekeeping projects in Haiti.

Dominican Republic Volunteer Visits Greenhouses

This past week the Dominican Republic welcomed a new volunteer, George Matthew Tokar. The focus of Matt's trip is to follow up on past assignments to provide insight in the area of post- harvesting and cold- chain management.
Matthew Tokar working with staff members of a greenhouse where peppers are grown.
He will be visiting multiple other greenhouses and packing plants this week.
He will be working with ADESJO, Fundacion Sur Futuro Inc. and two other organizations. Matt will provide training on the importance of having packing plants, and will develop an assessment study of the current situation on refrigeration after harvesting.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Women Growers in Colombia Learn New Skills

The Farmer to Farmer team was recently in Colombia and visited with a group of women from San Vicente, near Medellin, who are growing vegetables and medicinal herbs. In addition to visiting their plots, we traveled with the women to a local Foundation that provides training in Good Agricultural Practices. It was a great experience for everyone involved and FTF hopes to continue working with the women to improve their production.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

60 Seconds in Haiti

Recently, a team of video production volunteers traveled to Haiti to work with Farmer to Farmer and Makouti Agro Enterprise in creating outreach and success videos. The videos are still being produced, but the team - Sid McGregor, Clay Mason, and Brian Mehrens - compiled a quick video showing a glimpse of their time volunteering. Here it is, for your enjoyment!

60 Seconds in Haiti from Clay Mason on Vimeo.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Photos from the Field: Two Horticulture Teams in Guyana

During the month of October, the Guyana Farmer to Farmer Program welcomed two teams of volunteers who assisted different horticulture efforts. One team from the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, James Garner and Edmund Buckner, analyzed test plots during eddo (taro) harvests. They evaluated soil fertility and water quality, and the resulting differences in eddo size on each plot.

A second team from Tennessee, husband and wife Pete and Chris Wotowiec, provided ongoing technical assistance to shadehouse vegetable producers as well as a new type of training in "horticulture therapy" programs for rehabilitation programs and orphanages.

We thank our dedicated volunteers! Below are some pictures from their trips.

The Team from UAPB assists an eddo farmer from Kuru Kururu
Volunteer Pete Wotowiec poses with shadehouse farmers. Pete has conducted several trips to Guyana to help the producers over the years and he commented on the progress he observed during his recent trip
Volunteer Chris Wotowiec works with youth in Guyana. Horticultural production can serve as a valuable skill as well as a therapy for disadvantaged populations.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Female Participation in Family Farming in Paraguay

The role of women in agriculture has been studied the world over and is an important issue for the Farmer to Farmer Program as well. Two volunteers recently had the opportunity to explore this and other topics in South America. James Murren, Program Coordinator for Purdue University’s International Extension Program, and Cheryl O’Brien, gender specialist, recently concluded an 18-day assignment in southern Paraguay. Murren and O’Brien visited small family farming communities and met with staff from the University of Asunción’s College of Agriculture to identify needs on family farms and ways in which women can contribute to farm sustainability. Paraguayan women remain a highly underutilized resource in agricultural production, with limited access to training programs and low involvement in agrarian reform.

Murren and O’Brien’s research focused on the southwestern territories of Ñeembucú and Paraguarí, where they were generously hosted by the Inter-American Institute on Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA)/Paraguay and the Paraguayan Ministry of Agriculture (MOA). Based on feedback from farmers, University staff and members of IICA and MOA, they were able to identify the following agricultural needs: general training in product diversification and commercialization; assistance with business planning and commercialization for honey products; training for women in bee-keeping; and integration of gender training into agricultural workshops. Reflecting on potential spaces for female participation, Murren and O’Brien highlighted beekeeping/honey production and family gardens as specific areas to be addressed in future Farmer to Farmer volunteer assignments.