For 27 years, Partners’ Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program has helped to connect hundreds of technical assistance volunteers to host country organizations in over 30 countries.
As the year comes to a close, Partners has launched another cycle of its Farmer to Farmer program. The 2018-2023 USAID-funded Farmer to Farmer (F2F) program will feature projects in Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Colombia, Guyana and Burma.
In preparation, Partners facilitated a week-long program planning and training with the country directors and staff from three of these countries. Partners President and CEO John McPhail and Partners’ Economic Development and Health (EDH) Unit staff members, Stephanie Verganza and Janira Romero, traveled to Guatemala to meet the country directors of Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Guyana to begin laying program groundwork and implementation.
Verganza and Romero trained the country directors to host a projected 540 volunteers over the next five years, a critical component of meeting the program’s target goals. The October trainings encompassed an array of different themes including: policies, procedures, financial management, reporting systems, scope of work development, and volunteer logistics and safety.
Most importantly, however, the country directors were able to bond and share experiences managing challenging situations, discovering that there were many similarities between their respective field offices. Although the days were packed, the evenings were spent getting dinners outside of the hotel, exploring Antigua, Guatemala under the rain and haggling at the local market for souvenir shopping. The EDH staff also celebrated a country director’s birthday with a night of dinner and dancing!
The volunteers will work closely with their host country to provide technical assistance and promote the best agricultural practices to the most vulnerable in the region. Partners’ F2F program recruits from a diverse pool of candidates from all over the United States: experts in agricultural related fields are selected to spend up to four weeks working alongside host-country organizations.
The previous F2F cycle demonstrated great successes from volunteers, most notably Carmen Pacheco-Borden, who used her experience of owning a small salsa business to help train tomato farmers in Panama’s indigenous Ngäbe-Buglé reservation. Pacheco-Borden turned what was previously a 40% post-harvest loss into positive income by training the farmers on how to make value-added products.
Now in its 27th year, F2F is projected to be better than ever, with a strong network of country directors, skilled volunteers, and improved systems and procedures. F2F assignments will continue to target areas where the greatest impact on developing farmers and organizations can be met. Partners looks forward to continuing to connect farmers with volunteers and build on the success of one of its most distinguished programs.