Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development

President Martelly of Haiti discusses his development priorities
Sustainable development is often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It includes economic and social development as well as environmental protection. Last week, leaders and participants from around the world met to address this important topic.

Over 100 heads of state attended and Presidents from some core FTF countries played an important role. President Martelly of Haiti held a press conference with  Ertharin Cousin, the Executive Director of the World Food Program, and others to announce an expansion of school feeding programs in Haiti. Particular mention was made of providing support to Haitian farmers to improve their market access. "This kind of program is among those that Haiti needs to achieve sustainable development and of long-term, in order to achieve our objective of eradicating hunger by 2025," declared the President Martelly. "We particularly appreciate the efforts of WFP, which helps us to make of this objective a reality."

President Ramotar of Guyana with
FTF Program Director Carlson
Another panel focused on sustainable development in Latin America, Heraldo Muñoz, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) talked about how the region is a "biodiversity superpower" but that this was in peril. He stressed that the cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of action. There was also discussion of the need for new metrics to measure development that factor in issues of inequality. Guyana was well represented at their own panel discussing their Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and their collaboration with Norway on this program. 

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon focused on agriculture and hunger with his launch of a ‘Zero Hunger Challenge’ initiative at a Rio+20 side event.This initiative has five goals: (1) 100% access to adequate food all year round, (2) zero stunted children less than 2 years, (3) all food systems are sustainable, (4) 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income, and (4) zero loss or waste of food. How this will be accomplished it yet to be seen but the focus on eradicating hunger is important. “In a world of plenty no one, not a single person, should go hungry”, Ban Ki-moon said. “I want to see an end to hunger everywhere, within my lifetime.” 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Calling All Agriculturalists!

Veterinary Training in Haiti
Today is the first day of summer. Make this summer one to remember (and to add to your resume) by contributing to food security and income generation in Latin America and the Caribbean! Partners of the Americas is recruiting for specialists in a variety of fields to travel this summer.

Priority areas are described below. You can also bookmark our Volunteer Opportunities Page which is updated periodically with more details. Have questions about traveling with the Farmer to Farmer Program? Click here to view our FAQ page.

In the Dominican Republic, there is a need for specialists in greenhouse production of vegetables, including soil-less cultivation. Other specific needs include Certification of Packing Plants (fruits and vegetables), and Avocado Production.

In Haiti, there is need for specialists in a wide range of beekeeping topics, including evaluating the network of honey producers and the honey value chain. Our beekeeping project has been in place for over ten years and many beneficiaries are operating at a high level, so this project is usually the best fit for highly experienced beekeepers, Master Beekeepers and Apiary Inspectors.
Recordkeeping and Accounting Training in Guyana

Our Haiti project staff have also identified a range of needs in small animal production, specifically goats and rabbits: nutrition, reproduction, general management. Veterinarians are especially sought to help strengthen Haiti's veterinary support services and advise on animal health.

Other areas where we anticipate needing specialists include Food packaging (Haiti), Coffee (various topics - Haiti), and Organic pest control (Horticulture - Guyana).

Monday, June 18, 2012

Horticulture Value Chain Analysis

Traore in San Jose de Ocoa
Doussou Traore recently returned from the Dominican Republic where she completed a Greenhouse Horticulture Value Chain Analysis.  She developed a questionnaire for a value chain analysis which she used to assist farmers in the areas of Constanza, Jarabacoa, and Ocoa.  At the conclusion of her visit she presented on value chain analysis and the findings from her survey.

Ms. Traore describes that one the main objectives of her assignment was to "bring awareness to farmers and technicans on the importance of value chain analysis as critical success factor in the development, efficiency and profitability of the farm enterprise".
Traore with medium sized greenhouse workers 
During this assignment Traore worked with greenhouse owners, local technicans, packing house owners, and storage facility workers.  The greenhouses were growing mini cucumbers, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Some of the challenges the producers face as Traore describes in her report include "very difficult marketing conditions due to the perishable nature of their products, the climatic conditions of the region and the small number of outlets available for marketing of their produce".

The different stakeholders were asked to provide information in the following areas: coordination (producers organizations, inter-professional organizations, extension services), production process (area, quanity, yield, post harvest losses); variable and fixed costs of production (seeds, fertilizers, labor, land, water, interest on loans, tools and machinery); marketing strategies (market information, contracts), marketing costs (transportation and freight costs, storage costs, information, etc) and revenue (prices and volumes in different local and internationa markets). The information gathered was used for summary case studies by area and presented back to participants in a power point format with the objective that they can make more informed decisions in the future using value chain assessments.

FTF  Volunteer: Doussou Traore, US Ambassador; Raul Yzaguirre, and FTF Rield Officer; Kalvin Bencosme
Traore emphasized the importance of continuous and complete cost and market data collection in order to have a complete time series. These time series will serve to conduct more detailed, accurate and frequent value chain assessements such as price transmission and market integration that can allow for evidence based recommendations. Time series will give the growers information to compare production and market conditions over time and across different locations.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Shadehouses Prove Successful in Guyana

Minister of Agriculture Ramsammy gives the keynote address.
The local chapter of Partners of the Americas in Guyana, in collaboration with the Farmer to Farmer Program, Caribbean Self Reliance International (Casri), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and others, is completing a highly successful shadehouse project funded by the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). On June 5th, an Assembly was organized with close to 200 people attending, including the Minister of Agriculture Leslie Ramsammy and the First Lady Deolatchmie Ramotar to showcase the results. The project aimed to establish 20 hydroponic shadehouses in Guyana and it has reached 48, with several more in the final stages of development. The event also showcased locally grown produce from the Hydroponic Shadehouse Producers, who attended the event and received certificates. The Minister of Agriculture spoke about the importance of agriculture in Guyana, both at a household level as well as growing to be able to export. 
Produce being prepared for the Shadehouse Assembly

The idea of hydroponic vegetable production - growing plants without soil either in water or other inert medium - was slow to catch on in Guyana but producers soon saw the benefit of this system. As they achieved success, friends and neighbors became interested and the system spread. Partners of the Americas provided training, technical assistance and some materials but also focused on empowering producers so that they could continue training others. Market linkages are key and shadehouse producers are selling directly to customers but also to restaurants, hotels, and other outlets. This is the key to sustainability for this project.

One of the final hydroponic shadehouses constructed was at the State House at the request of the First Lady of Guyana. She is starting a campaign to have gardens in schools, as well as in households, and she wanted to show students the hydroponic system. She is quite interested in hydroponics personally and plans to attend one of the Partners of the Americas trainings on the topic. This news report shows the launch of her garden, which includes a hydroponic shadehouse but also traditional production systems and a fish pond.

This project and the assembly generated a great deal of local media as well. Below are a selection of articles about the project published in Guyana newspapers and on-line news outlets. This publicity not only shares the success stories but also generates interest in hydroponics. As Partners looks for additional funding to continue this activity, they expect the demand for training and assistance will continue to grow.

Hydroponic vegetable producers crucial to Guyana’s development, June 5:

Hydroponic shadehouse producers reaping success, June 6:

Hydroponic Shadehouse Producers in Guyana get boost, May 10:

US specialist to train Guyanese farmers in financial management, business planning, May 10:

There are also a number of articles published in the Stabroek News but a subscription is required to read the full article. An example is posted below. If you would like to read this and the other Stabroek News stories, please contact Peggy Carlson, for a login.

Ensuring the continuity of the Shadehouse Project, June 8:Editorial – Business Section:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Have Rabbits, Will Travel

Small-scale farmers in the surrounding areas of Port au Prince have had great success in producing numerous rabbits through the support of Farmer to Farmer and Makouti Agro Enterprise, however the logistics of traveling to markets with the animals has presented a significant roadblock for the typical Haitian producer living in a mountain community. In Haiti, revenue from animal sales can make a marked difference in a family's ability to purchase food and basic goods, and pay for a children's school fees.

Aware of this challenge, the Farmer to Farmer Program in Haiti recently collaborated with officials from the Haitian Agricultural Ministry to help form a network of rabbit producers in communities in the environs of Port au Prince, such as Grand Boulage, Kenscoff, and Croix des Bouquets. Among the purposes of this network are to share best practices in rabbit care and management, and to establish market linkages between more rural villages and the bustling markets of Port au Prince. With reliable market linkages, producers will have more sales opportunities which will bring them income for their families and micro-enterprises.
Local Outreach Shows Event Participants with FTF Volunteer Dr. Kaplan-Pasternak

Haiti's first Cuniculture Event was held on May 23 to unite the network and provide training in a range of management topics. Farmer to Farmer volunteer Myriam Kaplan-Pasternak gave workshops to the participants, which included representatives from over 10 communities in the region. With the network set up, there are already over 220 rabbits to sell. For more pictures and information on the Cuniculture event, visit Myriam's DGES Blog.

The Farmer to Farmer Program has planned future trainings in meat quality assurance and marketing. We are seeking volunteers to provide further assistance in the areas of rabbit health, breeding, and animal nutrition. If you are skilled in these areas and interested to learn more, please contact Partners of the Americas' Farmer to Farmer Program.