Friday, June 27, 2014

Farmer-to-Farmer at the 2014 Peace Corps Connect - Nashville Conference

This past weekend, Courtney Dunham, Senior Program Officer for Partners of the Americas’ Farmer-to-Farmer Program attended the “2014 Peace Corps Connect – Nashville” National Conference to promote Partners’ work in agriculture, food security, and youth development and to find potential Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) interested in becoming Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) volunteers. Courtney also got a chance to meet with Gary Linn, the Chairman of the Partners Nashville Chapter, who is an RPCV from the Dominican Republic.

Courtney observed:

“As a former RPCV from Honduras, I know that RPCVs can make great Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers. RPCVs often have the language skills, cross-cultural awareness, and flexibility that allow them to quickly dive into their assignments. They are used to working in challenging situations and can adapt accordingly. This is especially important for F2F’s short-term 2-4 week assignments. RPCVs also embody the people-to-people mission of Partners of the Americas, which is to ‘connect people and organizations across borders to serve and to change lives through lasting partnerships’.

Farmer-to-Farmer assignments provide a great way for RPCVs to reconnect with their countries of service or to continue volunteering in other countries. From 2008-2013, Partners of the Americas fielded over 590 volunteers to over 10 countries in Latin America. We hope to do the same over the coming years!”

Courtney with Gary Linn, the Chairman of the Partners Nashville Chapter
To read more about the experience of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers with the F2F Program, click the "Peace Corps" label to the right. To find out how you can participate in F2F, visit our website for more information!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Photos from the Field: Beekeeping in Haiti

During the month of June, the Haiti Farmer-to-Farmer Program welcomed a team of two volunteers who provided assistance in queen rearing and queen performance. Chad Carlson and Dr. Michael Bauer conducted field trainings for beekeepers to understand the importance of the queen for hive health, demonstrate criteria for selecting and breeding the best queen, and eliminate any undesirable queens. These skills will allow producers to strengthen their bee colonies, reduce hive loss, and eventually produce more honey.

Below are some photos from their assignment!

Chad Carlson and Michael Bauer working with members of
the AJTAP Beekeepers Association
Hands-on trainings on hive health
Beekeepers from Pierre Payen checking the performance of
their queens by detecting larva damages
Chad Carlson teaching different methods for checking the hives for mites
Training of the trainers - equipping Beekeepers Associations and members of the Ministry of Agriculture
to train others on queen rearing and measuring queen performance

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Farmer-to-Farmer Congratulates Dr. Rajaram for Receiving the 2014 World Food Prize

Sec. of State, John Kerry, speaks at the 2014 World Food Prize
Laureate Announcement Ceremony
On June 18, 2014, Partners of the Americas' Farmer-to-Farmer Program attended the 2014 World Food Prize Laureate Announcement Ceremony where Secretary of State John Kerry announced Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram as the winner of the 2014 World Food Prize.

Dr. Rajaram was born in India and is a renowned plant scientist whose research career began in 1969 at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico. At CIMMYT, he worked alongside Dr. Normal Borlaug and, in 1972, was asked by Dr. Borlaug to succeed him in leading CIMMYT's wheat breeding program. His research in wheat breeding technologies has led to increased production of wheat by more than 200 million tons worldwide. Dr. Rajaram has developed over 480 varieties of wheat. To read more about his work and also to see remarks from the event, visit the World Food Prize website.

Dr. Rajaram evaluating wheat in Mexico.
Partners of the Americas' Farmer-to-Farmer Program congratulates Dr. Rajaram on this noble achievement and acknowledges the extraordinary contributions he has made to promoting global food security. To find out more about what Farmer-to-Farmer is doing to help promote food security in the Americas, click on the "food security" label to the right for a selection of articles and program highlights.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Solutions to Flooding for Banana and Rice Producers in the Dominican Republic

F2F volunteer, Paul Wojtkowski, at a meeting with
banana producers in northern Dominican Republic
Paul Wojtkowski visits banana plantations at
Banelino, a banana producers' association
At the end of May, Partners of the Americas' Farmer-to-Farmer Program sent its first volunteer under the 2013-2018 Dominican Republic (DR) strategy that focuses on increasing the resilience of vulnerable populations to the effects of climate change. From May 28 to June 14, F2F volunteer Paul Wojtkowski agreed to serve as a climate change expert and to assess how climate change may impact the DR's banana and rice industries. During this assignment, Paul has conducted lectures and presentations on what is climate change, the potential impact of climate change on water availability and production, and measures banana and rice producers can take to best adapt to climate change both on the farm and at the community level. Paul is also working with producers and associations to find solutions to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change on the banana and rice sectors in the DR. Below is his report from the field during the first half of his assignment:

“It is not uncommon in Farmer-to-Farmer assignments to attend various functions. During the first day in the countryside, there was a reception for the opening a new building for an association of smallholder producers. Farmer-to-Farmer was mentioned in the opening remarks. At the beginning of the second week, there was a day-long event at a local college. Again, Farmer-to-Farmer was cited in the opening remarks. Between these formal events, [my official assignment] was to introduce banana farmers to the dangers of climate change. The hope was to offer solutions.

Upon visiting a number of farms, it was noted that the grass vetiver, often used for erosion control, might be a useful addition to banana plantations. Flooding is a frequent occurrence, often with damaging effects. The severe flooding associated with hurricanes destroys banana crops.

Vetiver, a perennial grass that may be used to
prevent erosion during flooding
Vetiver is a very deep rooted plant and is reported to be symbiotic with bananas. This suggests that vetiver could anchor the crop during periods of flooding. There might also be additional benefits, as vetiver could offer better year-round soil-moisture management and could help control nematodes, which farmers stated are a constant problem.

Many of the farmers expressed interest in the vetiver solution and, since the plant can be found locally, there are few obstacles to its use. Clearly, a large project to test the effects will soon be underway. This assignment has already been successful. Hopefully, the upcoming week will produce equally good results.”

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Expanding Your Network Through PartnersConnect

Do you want to be the first to know about Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) and other Partners activities?  Then join the Partners of the Americas (Partners) network, PartnersConnect, and help us achieve our mission to “connect, serve, and change lives”. 

Partners of the Americas has one of the largest and longest-standing networks of individuals and organizations in the Americas and has been implementing Farmer-to-Farmer and other agricultural programming since 1991.  In that time, Partners has built an impressive network of agricultural specialists, higher education institutions, and receiving organizations across the hemisphere.  By joining PartnersConnect, you become part of a network that works to combat hunger and build livelihoods. Partners’ Farmer-to-Farmer program is collaborating with PartnersConnect to offer specific benefits to both friend and partner members. PartnersConnect memberships are also not just for U.S.-based organizations. LaSalle University in Bogotá, Colombia is an example of a PartnersConnect  Organization Partner member and is working with Farmer-to-Farmer to develop a strategic plan to sponsor F2F volunteers to complete assignments in animal welfare, plant disease control, and citrus production.

PartnersConnect has both individual and organization level memberships that include becoming a ‘Friend’ or ‘Partner’.  The Individual Friend membership is free and provides several benefits that include opportunities to connect to the Americas through the Partners’ Directory, events, and volunteering opportunities.  Organization-level ‘Friends’ collaborate with Partners to develop custom opportunities for their communities. The Individual Partner membership and the Organization Partner membership are paid memberships that include additional benefits. 

If you are one of the thousands of individuals and organizations that have received special value from Partners in the past, we encourage you to join PartnersConnect! Meet fellow F2F volunteers, learn about new opportunities, and expand your network!

Students of La Salle University School of
Agricultural Sciences in Bogotá, Colombia