Monday, May 6, 2013

Introducing Vegetable Grafting to Small-Scale Farmers in Nicaragua

Carol Miles and Patti Kreider recently completed a vegetable grafting assignment in Nicaragua.  Carol Miles is a vegetable horticulture professor at Washington State University's Northwest Washington Research & Extension Center. Carol and Patti provided technical training to small-scale growers and agricultural trainers on the basics of grafting tomato, pepper and watermelon with the goal being to overcome vegetable production constraints, such as soil borne diseases and increase vegetable yield and quality.
Patti Kreider and Carol Miles with the Asociacion Trabajadores del Campo in Mayas, Nicaragua
The team provided written materials, lectures, discussions, hands-on training and supplies for tomato and pepper splice and cleft grafting at 7 locations to a total of 88 trainees, along with trainings for cucurbit (i.e. watermelons, cucumbers) grafting at 2 locations.  The printed materials used by Dr. Miles for the trainings on vegetable grafting were translated by the F2F field staff in Nicaragua, they hope to have these technical resources published by Washington State University and making them available online to download for free. 

Patti & Carol provided hands-on grafting training with predesigned seedlings
Even though almost all training participants had never heard of vegetable grafting prior to their training events, Carol and Patti, shared that "all participants appeared to be interested and enthusiastic about the potential usefulness of this technique given their production limitations, particularly soil-borne diseases. This attitude on their part was greatly influenced by their very positive experience with the use of grafting for tree fruit production."  The team built on this positive experience to introduce vegetable grafting, the advantages of this new practice and how it can be used effectively.  Carol and Patti also noted how impressed they were with the many woman that walked quite a long distance to attend one of their trainings in Esquipulas, some had walked 2 hours.  This showed the strong interest in learning and a desire for new practices that could help many of these single mothers find a way to improve their production, feed their families and have left over crop to sell.
Patti & Carol with Women's group in Esquipulas
The Farmer to Farmer field office was also asked to have Carol and Patti train Peace Corps Volunteers on vegetable grafting.  Carol is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Peace Corps-Cameroon), and began the training by discussing her career path from undergraduate student, to a Peace Corps Volunteer to associate professor at Washington State University.  She provided background information on the development of vegetable grafting worldwide, hands-on vegetable grafting demonstration and extensive questions and answers regarding rootstocks and also exploring ways to use locally available resources.  Patti and Carol noted that the trainees appeared to be very enthusiastic about the potential of utilizing vegetable grafting in their assignments and disseminating this new information to the farmers in their assigned communities.

Patti with Peace Corps Volunteers in Selva Negra

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