Farmer-to-Farmer Program Volunteers Champion Smallholder Causes
Today, December 5, is International Volunteer Day, a day to celebrate volunteers and their accomplishments. While every day is volunteer day for the Farmer-to-Farmer Program (F2F), today provides a particularly fitting opportunity to recognize the many volunteers who give their time and expertise to support smallholder farmers in developing and transitional countries worldwide. In the past year alone, 885 F2F volunteers from all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia completed assignments in nearly 50 countries, assisting 60,700 people overseas and donating $9 million of their time and resources. These volunteers join the other 17,000 volunteers who have completed assignments since F2F began in 1985.
As we celebrate all of our volunteers today, I would like to highlight the extraordinary contributions of a few F2F volunteers who turned their volunteer experiences into something more.
Rick Peyser was so impressed with the sustainable growing practices and the quality of the coffee that he observed on his 2013 F2F assignment assisting smallholder coffee producers in Burma with Winrock International that he published articles in USA Today and Roast magazine to spread the word. He also helped connect his hosts with international coffee buyers. Since then, Rick’s hosts have received support from two additional volunteers and USAID’s Value Chains for Rural Development project. In July 2016, the first shipment of Burmese coffee reached the U.S.—Rick’s hosts are now participating in the lucrative global coffee market, significantly increasing their incomes.
Dr. Myriam Kaplan-Pasternak has completed over 15 F2F assignments with Partners of the Americas in Haiti, using her veterinary expertise to support farmers involved in rabbit husbandry. After spending so much time in Haiti, she was inspired to support the country’s agricultural and economic development in an entirely new way, incorporating Haiti Coffee in 2011 to help Haitian coffee producers market their coffee in the U.S. Over the past five years, Myriam has continued to work with smallholders in Haiti, both with marketing and technical support through Haiti Coffee and through additional assignments and work with F2F.
Dr. Tom Graham has been providing his expertise to the livestock and veterinary sectors in developing countries throughout his career. As CEO of the non-profit Veterinarians Without Borders, Tom has implemented multiple F2F sub-awards to provide hands-on support to farmers and veterinarians in several countries. Most recently, through the Syndromic Surveillance for Livestock Health Program Development Project, a sub-award through VEGA’s F2F Special Program Support Project, Tom worked with district-level veterinary offices and educational institutions in Ethiopia and Uganda, sending 86 U.S. volunteers who then assisted 7,300 people.
Judy Moses completed multiple F2F assignments in Mali with Winrock International and ACDI/VOCA, supporting farmers and cooperative members in raising small ruminants. Her enthusiasm for working with Malian farmers was infectious, and soon her colleagues in Wisconsin in the Browse and Grass Growers Cooperative (BGGC) also became involved. When the F2F project in Mali closed, Judy maintained contact with the local team and her hosts in Mali. Today, she and the BGCC continue to provide resources and technical assistance to those hosts.
This International Volunteer Day, please join F2F in celebrating all of our volunteers and the incredible work they do to support small farmers throughout the world.