Thursday, August 27, 2015

Raising Awareness About the Agricultural Impact of Climate Change in the Dominican Republic


By Dr. Gary Linn, F2F Volunteer

In the Dominican Republic, one of the most productive agricultural areas is the Yaque del Norte river basin. Over the past decade, hurricanes, floods, mini-tornadoes, strong winds, and now, a strong drought have impacted banana and other agricultural production in the area. These farm communities are very vulnerable to the impact of global climate change (GCC). Irrigation canals that were once full are now depleted, crops are stressed by extreme heat, and soils are becoming degraded. Long-time agricultural practices are becoming ineffective and the usually plentiful fruit, vegetable, and rice production of the region is dropping. For the present, and possibly for future decades, farmers in the Yaque del Norte river basin (and other agricultural areas of the Dominican Republic) must rapidly adopt new climate smart agricultural practices and technologies that mitigate the effects of climate change and help them adapt their farming to the extreme weather conditions. However, awareness of the widespread effects of GCC and measures that can be taken by farmers to effectively deal with it are low. Unless agricultural producers/ decision-makers comprehend the scope and threat of climate change in their area, they are unlikely to adopt climate smart farming practices and technologies that will make them and their rural communities more resilient.

To raise awareness of GCC among producers, community leaders, and members of communities in the Yaque del Norte river basin, this assignment included four multi-hour workshops in Monte Criste, Mao, and Jarabacoa from July 12-25th. Contacts on the subject of GCC were also made with farm managers, elected officials, directors and professors of technical schools and universities, agricultural business leaders and administrators of producers associations. The workshops were attended by 456 participants, each of whom received a diploma-sized Certificate of Participation from Farmer-to-Farmer. In the communities, contacts were made with another 501 individuals. Workshop participants included agricultural producers, farm managers, agribusiness leaders, directors, professors and students of technical schools and universities, civil defense officials, and agricultural technicians. The workshops were hosted by an agribusiness, Banelino, two banana producers associations, Grupo Banamiel and Associacion de Pequenos Productores de Santa Cruz, a government project, Proyecto La Cruz de Manzanillo, a technical college, Escuela Medioambiente and a university, The Technical University of Santiago – Mao Campus (UTESA).

Discussions with workshop participants following the PowerPoint presentation on GCC and its impact on the Yaque del Norte watershed showed increased understanding of GCC and its human causes (emissions) and international, national, and regional impacts on agriculture, rural communities, and individuals. Further, at each workshop there were many requests from producers and other participants for expert assistance with the future adoption of new agricultural practices and technologies that would help them mitigate the negative effect of GCC and better adapt their farms and communities to changing climatic conditions. Although targeted education on GCC in the Rio Yaque del Norte watershed should be a continuing process, several key recommendations were made for the people, groups, and organizations that we assisted; New agricultural practices/technologies which will help mitigate the effects of GCC and help adapt regional agriculture to climate change must be disseminated and adopted by producers; Prior to the visits of the Farmer to Farmer experts, producers who are likely to adopt recommended climate smart practices/technologies and lead other producers to do the same should be selected for participation in the workshops/trainings; Following the workshops and trainings, the participants should discuss the positive and negative characteristics of the proposed climate smart agricultural practices; Prospective adopters of the climate smart agricultural technologies and practices should receive a cost analysis of the recommended practices; Producers adopting the recommended climate smart agricultural practices should follow up with the agricultural experts via email and Skype; One year following the workshops/training on climate smart agricultural practices, producers who participated should be surveyed with regard to their adoption of the recommended practices.





Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Week in the Life of a Mother Leader

by Yves-Laurent Regis - NSP Deputy Director, Gaetane Blanc - NSP Communications Officer, Dr. Jutile Loiseau - NSP Senior Nutrition Advisor

Women are making a significant contribution to improving the lives of their families in Haiti. They account for 52% of the country’s population and are involved in economic activities and participate in a variety of social initiatives in their communities. At home, women are responsible for their children’s education, the management of the household, and have their share in various decision-making processes affecting family members and neighbors.
Mother Leader - Marie Guerline Ostine

Women are also the backbone of the Haiti Nutrition Security Program (NSP). Much of NSP depends on Mother Leaders - women who have completed or are in the process of completing a 15-month “learning by doing” training program in nutrition and health education. Each Mother Leader is responsible for taking what she has learned and communicating it to her neighbors and other mothers in her community. NSP has chosen to highlight one of the Mother Leaders through a typical week in her life, seeing the role that the program has on her daily life.

Marie Guerline Ostine is a Mother Leader living in Carrefour, one of the four districts in the greater metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, the capital city of Haiti. Carrefour means “intersection” in French. And true to its name, Carrefour connects people commuting to and from the four Southern departments of Haiti. Many residents of Carrefour are migrants from the South of the country and struggle to assimilate to their new community.

As a Mother Leader, Marie is responsible for visiting 10 to 12 households twice a month for a face-to-face conversation on diet diversity, food groups, and best practices related to nutrition and health for children under five. She is committed to visiting her neighbors and having these important conversations. Some neighbors are available only on Sundays and they are happy to dialogue with Marie about health and nutrition. On Sundays, Marie takes her three boys, ages two, six, and ten, to the local church where she is an active member. She is well-known in her community and her neighbors respect her dedication to teaching her children and motivating them to participate in different activities organized by the congregation.
Nutrition counseling card used by Mother Leaders

Throughout the week, Marie continues the visits with the neighbors depending on their availability. To help facilitate their training, she uses counseling cards provided by NSP to deliver nutrition education to the families. Marie walks her kids to school early in the morning - classes start at 7:30 am and end at noon. Her oldest son walks home by himself but she goes to pick up her younger son and then ensures they both take a bath and eat a hot meal. After that, she hits the road with the goods she offers all the way to the market. On school days, Marie sells clothing but she shifts to toiletries over the summer because there is more consumer demand during that period. Marie prefers selling toiletries like toothpaste, toothbrushes, and soap, because they have a rapid turnover of stock. Additionally, the wholesalers who supply her business are located at her market and so this avoids the transportation costs of traveling downtown.  

After 5:00 pm, Marie makes another new round of visits to other neighbors.


On Tuesdays, she joins other community members to learn and study religious matters at the local church.

On Wednesdays, Marie resumes home visits and provides counseling in hygiene, nutrition, and health and supports other community members.
Marie and her sons

On Thursdays, Marie takes time to worship, and fasts along with other members of her church. In Haiti, Tuesdays and Thursdays are often days observed by various religious groups to worship, fast, or go on home or hospital visits.

Marie’s mother lives with her family and watches over the children while Marie goes on her Mother Leader visits, and also when Marie goes downtown to restock for her business. Marie’s husband Millien Pierre-Louis is also a salesman and leaves home early to sell his flashlights and electronic accessories for cell phones at a very busy intersection. He doesn’t arrive home until nightfall.

The Nutrition Security Program uses a cascade model to train the staff on infant and young children feeding. Sites supervisors regularly train the promoters to support the Mother Leaders responsible for teaching their neighbors. Marie spends two Fridays every month attending refresher classes or training sessions on new lessons with the promoters. Some of the other trainings she has participated in cover topics such as savings groups and vegetable production, and soon, capacity-building in malnutrition screening using a tape to measure the Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC).
Training of Mother Leaders

With the time she has left, Marie makes additional home visits and counsels the neighbors of other Mother Leaders who can’t cover their area or have unanswered questions.

Two neighbors enrolled in Marie’s group migrated recently: one to the countryside and one to Cité Soleil, a neighborhood in the metropolitan area. This is not uncommon as Carrefour is a hub of people moving to and from the region but Marie is particularly worried about the neighbor who moved to Cité Soleil. This woman is pregnant and did not show much interest in her health and nutrition lessons. Marie continues to visit the woman’s family and teaching other family members about best practices for nutrition and hygiene. Marie hopes that some of these family members will be able to help the woman when they visit her in Cité Soleil before and after she delivers her baby.

With her three boys, 11 neighbors to visit twice a month, cooking demonstrations, and other community-based activities, Marie Guerline Ostine is a great resource and a leader for her community. She provides engages with her neighbors, leads by example through the education of her children and a good family relationship with her husband, and delivers counseling on nutrition to neighbors and people in need in her community.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Haiti Celebrates International Youth Day

On August 12th, several hundred Haitian young people gathered to celebrate International Youth Day. This day celebrates youth as partners in today’s global society, and promotes the engagement and participation of youth in sustainable development. Youth engagement is at the heart of the strategy of Partners’ Nutrition Security Program (NSP) for the promotion of good nutrition practices for sustainable change. Partners supports the Haitian Ministry of Health and Population by strengthening the capacity of community health workers and traditional birth attendants in nutrition. Partners has also improved coordination with health ministry staff and health institutions in order to achieve better coverage of services such as prevention, screening, referral and managements of cases of malnutrition.

Young people aged 10-19 account for more than 37% of the Haitian population and can play a key role in the promotion and adoption of good nutrition practices. NSP and its local partner organization FOSREF have mobilized young people in fourteen towns in four departments to enhance youths’ nutrition capacity. Because there is great need but also a great desire to learn among young people, NSP facilitates bi-monthly meetings of youth groups to discuss health and nutrition, values, principles, decision making, life skills, civic engagement, and leadership. Acquiring these skills enables youth to gain experience and arms them with the confidence to participate in social change in their communities. These young people are empowered to be leaders among their families, their peers, and in their communities. Currently, 1,875 young girls and boys regularly participate in these groups.  Other school-age children and students attend Vendredi Vert (Green Fridays), weekly sessions on environment, sanitation and hygiene.

Young people are also supported by the entire community network set up by NSP. This network consists of Care Groups and other influencing leaders, and regularly engages 20,597 women, 1,278 grandmothers and 1,362 fathers. Community leaders, community-based organizations, participants in the farmer field schools established by another USAID funded-program called AVANSE, and local institutions also come to support youth. As a result, young leaders become aware of their role and prepare to become tomorrow's active citizens, striving to be worthy, accountable, honest, brilliant and committed to ensure the progress of their country, starting in the communities and counties in which they live.
 
The theme of this year’s International Youth Day was "Youth Civic Engagement" and focused on the value of involving and including youth in contributing to their future. In Haiti, the event’s slogan was "Jèn Yo La" (Youth Engagement) and was promoted by a logo that dynamically represented key skills for young people: leadership, nutrition and participation. Young people were full of energy and promise in the Canaan commune of Croix-des-Bouquets, in Thibeau, the commune of Milot, in Caracol, in Fort-Liberté and in Ouanaminthe. NSP organized six large gatherings where 973 young men and women participated in thematic discussions and presentations related to the potential of youth as partners for social change and opportunities for the local associations and authorities to take appropriate steps to meet the needs of the younger generation. The talks were facilitated by NSP staff, youth leaders and personnel from local health institutions. During time between sessions, young people also showcased their talents and eloquence and expressed their wishes to see more quality education, and improved vocational training and job placement. Participants also received booklets covering topics related to adolescence, health, values, principles, life skills, hygiene, sport, and nutrition.


As part of NSP, young people are connected with Care Groups and meet at least once a month to discuss and seek solutions together to the challenges and barriers to their initiatives and proposals. They want answers to their questions about society and about themselves. They share their experiences and seek further training. Young leaders are getting ready to significantly contribute to changes in health, nutrition, and much more. Young people want every citizen to become aware and know that today's youth are committed to the advancement of their community and the progress of their country.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Supporting Social Entrepreneurship in Colombia: Zen Naturals and F2F

In April 2015, Gabriel Maya, the CEO of a small eco-cosmetic company called Zen Naturals, traveled from his home country of Colombia to Washington, D.C. under Partners of the Americas’ Bavaria Entrepreneurship Exchange program. These Bavaria Fellows won a national entrepreneurship competition in Colombia and were then selected to travel to the United States to meet with experts in investment, small business development, and experts in their individual industries to gain skills, ideas, and contacts for future growth. During his visit to Washington, Gabriel learned about the Farmer-to-Farmer program and was able to request a F2F volunteer to visit his company in Colombia in June 2015. Below is an interview with Gabriel Maya and his experience working with Partners of the Americas.

Gabriel Maya and one of his suppliers
What’s your name and title?
Gabriel Maya, CEO of Zen Naturals. My younger brother is the marketing specialist and Director of Marketing and Advertisement.

Tell me about Zen Naturals.  How did it start?
Our beginnings are that we wanted to create the best natural cosmetics that have the best impact socially and environmentally for the world. Our company started as a dream of social entrepreneurs to integrate beauty with social causes.  We’re addressing [the development of Colombia] in three different areas.  First, through farmer support. We are training the farmers that supply us with raw materials to help them achieve better quality crops so they can sell to many industries.  This helps them have better living wages, more sustainable jobs, and improves the economy and helps their families.  The second is our community where our manufacturing facility is located.  We are working with single mothers in the community. We have an eight month training process and have eight mothers working with us [who] are loyal to the cause, the movement, and the products. The third and final part is our consumers.  We are giving our consumers the opportunity to give back with every purchase they make.  We not only want our products to make you beautiful on the outside, but also beautiful on the inside.

How did you first learn about Partners and Farmer-to-Farmer?
We learned about Partners through the Bavaria fellowship. We won an entrepreneurship contest, so we were granted some capital and a trip to the United States for a week, and Partners was the NGO in charge of working with us.  We came to Partners in April where we got many many opportunities to improve our company and improve our social and environmental goals.

When we came here initially we had never heard of the Farmer-to-Farmer program. When we got here, we had a meeting with [Farmer-to-Farmer Senior Program Officer] Courtney Dunham. That’s when we learned about [the] program and we said hey, we can actually get great things from this and improve our company!

Who was the Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer that you chose and what did he do during the assignment?
Our initial requirement was for a green chemist.  We chose Bruce Akers from California.  He’s worked with many green companies.  With Bruce, many good things happened.  He helped us improve our research and development area.  He started changing things up.  We started buying equipment, so he gave us tips to get cheap but great equipment.  Also, he started playing with our formulas, doing certain modifications to improve our formulations, and started to do a great assessment about the legal requirements for the American market.

What surprised you the most about having a volunteer?
We never had a volunteer before.  The greatest thing about having a volunteer is that it’s a completely new world of knowledge that comes to your company, things that you might never have had the opportunity to achieve before, and you have people who have completely different backgrounds giving you new ideas and new tips for your business. It’s a huge enrichment process for your company. It’s amazing what happens before and after you have a bond with Farmer-to-Farmer.

Could you describe some memorable moments from the experience?
Something that I always say is that I love my country, I’m really passionate about my country. Our country has suffered many social and violence issues.  It was funny to see how when someone from abroad comes to your country to see has many, many ideas or a misconception about what it is like in your country.  When Bruce came into Colombia, he thought we were in danger all the time. But then he started seeing how things were completely different then he thought.  Now, Bruce Akers is actually a part of our company.  He loved the project so much that he joined us and he’s now on the Board of Advisors. 

What was the impact of being a Bavaria Fellow and receiving a Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer?
The impact was huge.  Our core business was improved 100% thanks to the Fellowship and our other meetings with Partners.  One of the long-term goals we have right now is getting into the American market. Farmer-to-Farmer and the Bavaria Fellowship have helped me in this process- the fact that I am here right now about to go into the American market is thanks to Partners, they really opened the doors for us.  It was great; I think we are a stronger company, with stronger goals and core values. If it wasn’t for them, it would have taken a much longer time. It changed our life.

How do you hope your connection with Partners will influence your company and country?
Employees at Zen Naturals
Partners is an organization that is addressing really important issues, one of which is poverty reduction.  Partners supports the leaders that will fight the issues of their country.  Just in four months in having a relationship with Partners our company has changed 100%. We are really, really excited about our future with our company and the relationship with Partners of the Americas.


In October 2015, Partners of the Americas will sponsor a second Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer, Margaret Woodward, to travel to Colombia to work as an international marketing specialist with Zen Naturals.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Photos from the Field: Women and Youth in Nueva Guinea's farming communities

F2F volunteer Laila Salimi just returned from an assignment in Nicaragua. The purpose of this assignment was to complete a community and organizational diagnostic on farming cooperatives in Nueva Guinea, Nicaragua. These groups will receive F2F volunteers as part of Partners' new country strategy focused on Women and Youth in Nicaragua.  Laila met with producers in 4 communities and visited their farms to understand how their organizations and farms were functioning.  

Below are some photos from her trip!

Seeing the pineapple production of Nicholas, a member
of the La Ceiba cooperative.






Capturing a harvest calendar with members of La Ceiba.

Chatting before lunch with some members of the 
cooperative from the community of Montevideo.

Walking around the farm of Christina with
other members of Montevideo.


Discussing some of the resource gaps in the community.

Chatting with Lesbia on her farm in Serrano to better understand Yuca production.


Walking down the land that Mirella (not pictured) leases 
with her partner Ismael (hat) and Flora (bandana),
another member of the Escobin cooperative.

Visiting the farm of Maria with neighbors and members of
the Escobin cooperative.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Marketing Peanuts in Guatemala with Grupo Union Esperanza

This post was written by F2F Volunteers Katie Plaia and Jennifer Rangel from the field in Guatemala.

Greetings!
Jennifer explaining how to set up proper presentation for fair events
My teammate Jennifer Rangel and I are graduate students at Florida State University. Jennifer is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Media and Communication Studies and I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communication. We both have a passion for travel and helping others so we were thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Farmer-to-Farmer program in Guatemala this summer. The Farmer-to-Farmer Program is implemented by Partners of the Americas and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Group Background
We worked with Grupo Union Esperanza, an organization of 30 women who sell all-natural peanut and peanut butter products. They are located in the community of Santa Ana Huista in Huehuetenango, Guatemala.

The group formed in 1998 when five women wanted to improve their economic situation and the lives of their families by developing a business that could provide for them. In 2000, they began to process fried, sweet and salty peanuts. In 2006, they began to produce peanut butter. Now in 2015, the group is making spicy peanuts as well.
Practicing sealing jars

The Assignment
Our task was to create an integrated marketing plan to help raise brand awareness for Grupo Union Esperanza and ultimately help the women to make a profit off their products. We wanted to emphasize the all-natural attribute of the products and the values of the organization through their branding. The plan included rebranding of the logo and development of a tagline. In addition, the plan included techniques they could use for sales promotions, personal selling, business cards, business-to-business brochures, and development of a website.

Based on extensive research done in order to understand the country and the available resources in Santa Ana Huista, we found that personal selling would be essential to the marketing plan. We recommended that Grupo Union Esperanza approach various stores in the area of Huehuetenango and provide businesses with an informational brochure and sample in order to establish relationships with vendors. Throughout our two weeks here, we better understood the market, established a brand image including a mission statement, and educated the group on personal selling and B2B networking. We also created a website for the women to share product varieties, recipes and contact information.

For the first week, we worked with the non-profit currently supporting the women, ASDECOHUE- CSEM, learning more about this organization and what it does to assist women in developing business management skills. We then visited stands and stores that already had Grupo Union Esperanza’s peanuts in stock and were able to ask which of their variety was the most popular and if among other brands of peanuts was Grupo Union Esperanza’s doing well in comparison. During the second week, we met the women of Grupo Union Esperanza at the non-profit and presented the marketing plan to them. Jennifer was able to teach them how to seal their new jars for their peanuts using a hot air gun. They were also taught how to properly set up a presentation for events such as town fairs.
Both volunteers with the group on the last day

While working, we also got to experience Guatemalan culture, including delicious food and amazing views of the mountainous landscape. We spent our first night in Antigua upon flying into Guatemala City, where we got to meet one of our F2F hosts, Andrea. She gave us a tour of the beautiful town and talked to us about living in Guatemala. The next day we drove five hours to Huehuetenango with our other wonderful F2F host, Abraham. At the conclusion of our trip, we enjoyed a couple of days back in Antigua before heading back to the United States.

Overall, this experience opened our eyes to a fascinating different culture. We experienced first hand the challenges that the people of Guatemala face when trying to market a brand and create a lucrative business. With that being said, we felt humbled by the business aspirations of these women and honored to be a part of making their dream a reality. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Call for Volunteers!

The Farmer-to-Farmer program is looking for volunteers - we have some exciting opportunities! Read more below...

Dominican Republic

Water Quality and Wastewater Management Specialist (July – August 2015: 2 weeks)
A volunteer with experience in conducting water quality assessments and treatment at fruit packing centers, with particular experience with banana packing, is needed to measure the physical, biological, and chemical parameters of water quality at several banana packing houses. The volunteer will train banana producers at small packing houses on improved practices and methods to improve water quality and wastewater management.

Agroforestry and protected areas management specialist (July – September 2015: 2-3 weeks)
A volunteer with experience in forest management and restoration of protected areas, developing land use plans for forest protected areas, and training rural farmers and technicians is needed to assess the forestry sector in the Yaque del Norte watershed in Jarabacoa and identify appropriate technologies and practices for managing and protecting forested areas. The volunteer will also assist in the planning, development, and implementation of a forest management and protection plan in the Yaque Del Norte Watershed, and train producers and technicians in best practices of forest protected areas. A strong proficiency in Spanish is preferred but not required.

Solid waste management specialist (July – November 2015: 2 weeks)
A specialist with experience in developing and conducting educational programs for students and teachers on solid waste management is needed to train faculty at ISA University to develop and implement solid waste management programs and manage plans for recycling solid waste that is produced at the university. The trained faculty will then pass this knowledge on to the students. It is very important that the volunteer has experience training beneficiaries in practical activities that can be carried out, as well as assess the amount of waste produced in the different areas in the campus.

Irrigation technology experts for banana production, Dominican Republic (July – December 2015: 2-3 weeks)
Partners is looking for 1-2 specialists in irrigation technologies to train agricultural extension agents, technicians, and banana producers in irrigation systems that will improve water efficiency. The volunteer is expected to assess the current irrigation systems and provide training and technical assistance to resolve problems of water efficiency.

Soil conservation specialist with experience in building live/dead barriers (July – November 2015: 2 weeks)
A specialist in soil conservation is needed to train hillside smallholder farmers on local plants and resources that can be used as live/dead barriers to reduce soil erosion and increase the organic matter in soils. The volunteer will provide hands-on training and recommendations on how to plant these barriers, as well as any other appropriate methods and techniques for soil conservation.



Guatemala

Marketing expert (July - September 2015: 2-3 weeks)
An expert in the food industry with extensive knowledge in the industrialization and processing of products is needed to train farmers on best management practices and to design a marketing strategy. Knowledge of product diversification, packaging, product presentation, setting expiration dates, and nutritional content of products is also desired. Please note this assignment focuses on the development of a marketing strategy for peanuts and hibiscus. However, while experience with these products is desired, it is not required.


Expert on genetic varieties and rootstock deciduous crops (October-November 2015: 2-4 weeks)
A volunteer is needed with knowledge of new and improved varieties of deciduous fruit that are adaptable to the ecological conditions of Guatemala. The volunteer will train technicians and farmers ANAPDE on methods and techniques of plant breeding to increase production and quality of agricultural products per unit area in little time and with minimal effort and cost. Training should provide information on increasing efficiency of crops by teaching the absorption of nutrients, uses of water, fertilizer and tolerance of certain environmental factors that tend to control extreme fluctuations in yields.


Fito expert in breeding varieties of rootstock crop (August-October 2015: 2-4 weeks)
A volunteer is needed who can explain techniques for better post-harvesting handling. The volunteer will train technicians and farmers on methods, related technologies and procedures used in harvesting, processing and storage of fruits and pests. The volunteer should be knowledgeable in techniques involving the handling of these products and be able to provide useful information to all those who have responsibility for the management of these agricultural products.


GMPs Expert for Natural Juice Production (August-September 2015: 2-4 weeks)
A volunteer food engineering expert with experience in the application of good manufacturing practices (GMPs), HACCP regulations, food safety, and product shelf life is needed to assist a business in improving their production practices of natural fruit and vegetable juices. Experience working with small groups in rural areas is also desired. The goal of the assignment is to increase the technical capacity of producers and processors on the subject of GMPs and HACCP regulations in order to improve the production of products such as vegetable and natural juices. The expected deliverables are a manual on GMPs for the production of natural drinks made from fruits and vegetables, a trip report, and recommendations for further work.


GAP Expert for Peas, Carrots, and Potatoes (October 2015-February 2016: 2-4 weeks)
An expert in the production and management of peas, carrots, and potatoes with experience in the implementation of good agricultural practices (GAPs) is needed. Experience working with groups in rural areas and training large groups of people in conventional and organic crop management is desired. The goal of the assignment is to increase the technical capacity of producers and processors on the subject of GAPs in the production and management of peas, carrots, and potatoes. The expected deliverables are a manual on GAPs for vegetable production to be used among producers, a trip report, and recommendations for further work.


Marketing Expert for FECCEG (August-November 2015: 2-3 weeks)
A volunteer marketing expert with extensive knowledge of the food industry with knowledge and skills related to packaging and product presentation is needed. The purpose of the assignment is to improve the agro-industrialization processes of products, to improve product quality and producer productivity, to meet current and future demand and harness the productive potential of the raw materials locally, to participate in formal markets, to increase labor supply and to improve the economy of the families and the community. The expected deliverables of the assignment are a guide to proper labeling of finished products, a new brand design, an operational manual, a trip report, and recommendations for further work.


Nicaragua

Qualitative Research Specialist (August-September 2015: 2-3 weeks)
The purpose of this assignment is to fully understand why there is limited consumption of dairy products in Nicaragua. Based on preliminary findings from previous F2F assignments, factors limiting dairy consumption may include: limited understanding of nutritional benefits, price/limited purchasing power, limited dairy availability in schools and remote areas, and quality concerns. The volunteer will conduct qualitative research throughout the country to better understand the reasons why dairy consumption is so low. He/She will then create a written report and PowerPoint presentation that details the findings and present them to key stakeholders in the Nicaraguan dairy value chain. This information will be used to continue developing the national dairy consumption campaign strategy. The volunteer must have experience conducting qualitative research, strong communication skills, and speak Spanish at a conversational level.



Agribusiness Market Research Specialist (August-September 2015: 3 weeks)
A volunteer is needed to conduct a rapid local and regional market study for value-added products made from cassava, cow milk, cacao, and guava. The market study, in conjunction with a separate feasibility study, will empower four women’s cooperatives in Nueva Guinea to make informed and strategic decisions as they develop their business plans. The volunteer should have experience conducting field market studies/analyses and surveys, leading focus groups, working with small-scale producers, processors, and cooperatives, and will preferably have a graduate degree in Agricultural Economics or Agribusiness or a related field and have a basic knowledge of Spanish.

Cheese Processing Specialist (October 2015 (Preferably October 11-25th): 2 weeks)
A volunteer Cheese Processing Specialist is needed to conduct workshops with the Nicaraguan Institute for Development (INDE) regarding proper cheese processing techniques that will ensure safe, high-quality products. The volunteer will also deliver two presentations at the National Cheese Fair in October: 1) new cheese processing techniques to ensure food quality and safety; and 2) Market trends in the commercialization of dairy products and potential opportunities with free trade agreements. The volunteer will also teach the INDE team proper methodology for evaluating and grading different types of cheese, which may include: queso fresco (artisanal basic cheese), mozzarella, hard cheeses (parmesan, etc.), and specialty cheeses (goat cheese, etc.). It is expected that at the end of the assignment, the INDE team will improve their ability to evaluate and grade different cheeses at the National Cheese Fair, promoting cheese quality in Nicaragua. Additionally it is expected that producers will be training on how to improve their processing skills to make higher quality cheese.


Hive Management (Nicaragua, August-September 2015: 2-3 weeks)
A volunteer is needed with experience in general hive management, preferably with a graduate degree in entomology. The purpose of this assignment is to help improve beehive management including inspection, monitoring and development of new and innovative trap systems for managing unwanted inhabitants. In this assignment, the volunteer will help the beekeepers learn about the following: hive inspection, increasing hive productivity, understanding factors that affect hive production, understanding bee activity both in and out of the hive, removing old combs, and building and using a system to catch pollen and propolis. The volunteer needs to have at least a conversational level of Spanish, be flexible and adaptable, and strong presentation and communication skills.


Honey Value-Added Assignment (Nicaragua, September 2015: 2-3 weeks)
A volunteer is needed with experience in: general hive management, working with minimal resources to make high quality value-added products from honey, and packaging, labeling, marketing, and selling value-added honey products. The purpose of this assignment is to teach beekeepers how to create value-added products derived from honey in order to increase their economic returns on honey yields. At the end of this assignment hosts will know how to make new products and package, label, and market them in local and regional markets. The volunteer is expected to give workshops on making and marketing value-added honey products and on how to maintain honey quality post-harvest. Some of the possible value-added products are mead/honey wine, candles, propolis, and pollen. The volunteer needs to have at least a conversational level of Spanish, be flexible and adaptable, and strong presentation and communication skills.



Haiti

The Haiti Farmer-to-Farmer program recruits specialist volunteers in a range of fields such as agribusiness, marketing, coffee, small animals, and beekeeping.  If interested in an assignment in Haiti, please submit your resume on our website. 



Ecuador


Sustainable Agriculture/Gardening and Nutrition Specialist (Fall/Winter 2015-2016: 2-3 Months)
One or two volunteers (with 2-3 months of availability) are needed with experience in organic gardening and/or agriculture (ideally in tropical environments). This assignment will work in collaboration with the Arajuno Road Project (ARP) to support food insecure communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The purpose of this assignment is to train ARP field technicians and student and adult community members in sustainable agriculture/gardening practices and continue to develop school/community gardens. Application of the consultation and training will result in developmentally appropriate planning for the following age-appropriate learning activities: choosing and preparing nutritious and healthy foods; planning, cultivating, and maintaining a garden; re-use or recycling of materials to conserve natural resources. The ideal volunteer(s) will have knowledge of basic nutrition, good writing, analytical and evaluation skills, strong interpersonal communication and presentation skills, and have hands-on classroom experience with children and adults. A certification/undergraduate/post-graduate degree in horticulture, agronomy, or a related field is preferred. The volunteer(s) need to be flexible and adaptable and have at least a conversational level of Spanish.


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