Melanie Forstrom changes lives as a Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) volunteer with her most recent assignment in the Dominican Republic. Partners’ Farmer-to-Farmer program aims to promote sustainable improvements in both food security and agricultural production, processing, and marketing. Highly skilled U.S volunteers provide technical assistance to farmers, farm groups, agribusinesses, service providers and other agricultural institutions in developing and transitional countries. Over the next six years, the 2018-2023 Farmer-to-Farmer program plans to place 610 volunteers in six countries.
Read about her experience below:
“Being the first volunteer of a cycle gave me the exciting opportunity to contribute to and shape the youth involvement strategy for the following 5 years in the Dominican Republic. I was mainly stationed in Santo Domingo but had the opportunity to travel to Jarabacoa and Mao. There I saw and experienced organic strawberry and banana production, talked to young producers, and had rich conversations about protecting the basins of the Rio Yaque del Norte.
The main outcome of my assignment was creating a draft youth development strategy. This was accomplished through research, surveys, and meetings with host organizations and young producers. I produced a SWOT Analysis of each of the 3 organization partnering to incentivize youth agriculture in the Dominican Republic, as well as of the youth sector overall.
My assessment that a smaller scale mentoring program with each producer teaching 1-2 youth is the most viable path for the next five years, until there are additional incentives for producers to educate younger youth. If there is then enough interest to sustain a 4-H club model, this could happen further down the road.”
Learn how to volunteer with F2F here.