Friday, October 28, 2016

Country Program Highlight: Guatemala Farmer-to-Farmer Program

By: José Cano, Guatemala Farmer-to-Farmer Country Coordinator

As Partners reaches the halfway point of its 2013-2018 Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program, our staff are reviewing and analyzing program data and reflecting on the program so far. Below, José Cano, the Country Coordinator for the Guatemala F2F program, shares highlights and information on what the program has been able to accomplish so far in Guatemala.


F2F Country Coordinator, José Cano, presenting the
F2F program to a women's group
To keep advancing Guatemala´s development we have to answer three basic questions: 1) What do we have? 2) What do we want? and 3) How do we accomplish the results we want to see? The Farmer-to-Farmer program is playing an important role in strengthening rural development in Guatemala by upgrading capacity building, supporting rural value chains with high potential for impact, focusing on gender, and facilitating strategic alliances with public, academic, private, and international cooperation.


F2F volunteer, Beth Sastre Flores, meeting with apple producers during her
assignment
Since the beginning of F2F in Guatemala back in May 2014, we have focused on training farmers, women, and youth of a variety of different organizations, such as rural producer associations, small farmers groups, small and medium sized enterprises, cooperatives, and universities. The technical assistance provided by volunteers in Guatemala F2F is based in two main areas: Value-Added Horticulture and Rural Enterprise Development.  

Our Value-added Horticulture Strategy provides producers with knowledge, skills, and appropriate technologies to produce a variety of horticultural crops to sell in local, regional, or international markets or for household consumption. Adding value to horticultural products offers great opportunities for Guatemalan producers, so F2F assists producers and processors in meeting quality and sanitation standards to obtain domestic and international certification. Rural enterprises in Guatemala - from individual households to medium or large operations - are engaged in producing and distributing goods and services. They also play a vital role in poverty reduction and economic development but need improved access to local, urban and regional markets. Therefore, F2F works to promote the products of rural enterprises, identify potential micro-enterprise opportunities, and build capacity in key skills such as business development, market orientation, and leadership. 

F2F volunteer, Wayne Burleson, poses for a photo after his organic compost
workshop
In these two and a half years working in Guatemala we have completed over 71 volunteer assignments with 10 partners and 37 host organizations. Through these assignments, we have assisted almost 6,000 beneficiaries. To manage the high demand for volunteer assignments, we work with our hosts and partners to develop Operational Plans. These Operational Plans help us identify each organization's specific needs for technical assistance. Writing a good Operational Plan is crucial for making better assignments and ensuring that each assignment contributes to a greater impact. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation before, during, and after each assignment is also important for our program so we can provide adequate follow-up to the recommendations volunteers make to hosts. 

We have several success stories that show the impact F2F is having in Guatemala´s rural areas and on local associations, cooperatives, small farmers groups, and the other organizations with which we work. To learn more about the impact of the F2F Guatemala program, please see our Success Stories page found on the Partners' website here. You can also visit the Guatemala F2F Facebook page here.

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