Friday, October 16, 2015

Happy World Food Day!

On October 16, people around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger, fighting for the basic human right to food. While the world produces enough food to feed every person on the planet, one in nine people live with chronic hunger.

Ending hunger is not just a moral imperative, but also a good investment for society. The cost to the global economy because of malnutrition is the equivalent of $3.5 trillion a year. Hunger leads to increased levels of global insecurity and environmental degradation.

Fifteen years ago, the UN developed eight Millennium Development Goals, the first of which was to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Since then, 40 countries have been able to halve the proportion of people suffering from hunger.

The Agriculture and Food Security Team at Partners of the Americas has been working on the USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program for the last 24 years to decrease hunger and malnutrition in the Caribbean and Latin America. To celebrate World Food Day, take a look at these examples from the past year of F2F volunteers helping communities to eradicate food insecurity.

Artisan Cheese in Nicaragua

Since 2012, the Nicaragua F2F program has been working with Leonardo Castro on improving his family-owned dairy farm’s practices, production, and cheese quality. His goals for the upcoming years include diversifying his cheese products, improving cheese quality, and increasing production, sales, and access to niche markets. About a year ago, shortly after receiving technical assistance from F2F volunteer Daniel Hewitt, Leonardo began producing and selling raw-milk Gouda through his start-up enterprise, Queso San Ramon.

Through hands-on activities and a five-day cheese-making workshop at the Queso San Ramon facility, Daniel was able to teach the principles and practices of artisanal cheese-making. Throughout these interactive trainings, Daniel facilitated discussions with Leonardo and his team about how these changes could impact the final cheese product.

Thanks to Daniel’s trainings, Leonardo and his team are now well on their way to producing a cheddar-style cheese and there are also plans to increase Queso San Ramon’s production to twice a week. As Queso San Ramon continues to grow, Leonardo hopes to eventually expand and include two dairy neighbors.

Jams and Jellies in the Bahamas

An abundance of agricultural produce can be found in the Bahamas, the majority of which goes to waste as imported products continue to dominate the supermarket shelves. Therefore, the Bahamas Agricultural & Industrial Corporation (BAIC) identifies food processing as an area for development, and a key for producers to both sell locally and export internationally. The Bahamas also receives over 1.5 million tourists annually, which provides an ideal market to sell bottles of local jams, jelly, or sauces from small processors. However, there is currently no formal local or export protocol for these goods.

From June 15-28, 2014, food processing and food safety expert Donna Bromfield was the first Partners of the Americas Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer to travel to the Bahamas in 2014 on a flex assignment. During her assignment, Ms. Bromfield collaborated with BAIC to train seven women in the preparation of mango products from local fruits.

The goal of BAIC is to further support “Bahamian grown foods” and empower Bahamians by providing technical assistance in food preservation, post-harvest techniques, and compliance to food standards/regulations. In turn, this can help facilitate the export of “Bahamian-made” agricultural food products that are safe, of high quality, and follow the model of “from the farm to the fork”. Partners of the Americas’ Farmer-to-Farmer program hopes to continue to support BAIC in their efforts to improve the food security of the islands.

Guatemala Gardens

On March 22nd, Steve Oberle and Arlen Albrecht, traveled to Guatemala to volunteer their time and expertise through Partners' Farmer-to-Farmer program. Read below an excerpt from their experience.

“The urban setting of Guatemala City can be overwhelming when trying to grow organic fruits and vegetables in a sustainable fashion. During our work here, we helped them discover unique ways to grow fruits and vegetables in small areas, on walls, and on their roofs or patios. There is even great potential to grow these small garden systems year round.

They can supplement their diets and improve their self-esteem and self-worth through the mediums of composting and gardening.

If these initial efforts are successful and expanded upon, they could go a long way toward improving the self-sufficiency, food security, public health/safety, and environmental perspective/quality of the Guatemalan people.

I am always humbled and impressed with dedication of leaders in small communities. In the communities of Guatemala this is no different. Local leaders care for their neighbors and friends. They go the extra mile to help them when possible, they give from the heart. To grow at least some of your own healthy food is a hand up, not a hand out.”

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