Training Beef Fattening for Youth Entrepreneurship Development
Winrock International invited me to volunteer in Bangladesh as part of the Farmer-to-Farmer Program funded by USAID. In Bangladesh, the Farmer-to-Farmer program engages skilled American volunteers to provide training and technical assistance to support youth entrepreneurship in the agriculture sector and to strengthen agricultural education and training institutions. My assignment was to visit local beef cattle fattening farms and locally available feed sources to assess the existing status, practices, problems, and opportunities to improve practices of beef fattening activities in the community, and to conduct two 3-day trainings on improved beef fattening for the host staff and youth group members with a focus on youth entrepreneurship development. The Rural Reconstruction Foundation (RRF) hosted me, as part of its mission to seek and accomplish “the comprehensive development of underprivileged men, women, youths, and children towards understanding a civil society with respect of full democracy, liberty, equality, justice, peace, and solidarity”.
This was my first Winrock volunteer experience, my first visit to Bangladesh and my first visit to Asia. I enjoyed Bangladesh since the day of my arrival in Dhaka City. During my assignment, I visited farms, worked with farmers, and participated in the two three-day training for the youth beef fattening group members. I value and admire the great interest shown by all participants to enhance their beef fattening knowledge and make of it a mechanism to improve their lifestyles. All farmers that we visited were very attentive to our recommendations on how to improve their production system. They wrote the recommendations on animal management, feeding practices, and animal comfort.
The RRF technical staff and the beef farmers showed a great attitude during the 3-day training sections. All participated actively during the training, asking many questions. The RRF staff showed critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, especially during the ration formulation exercises where we used local feed resources to formulate beef cattle diets.
Professionally, I will share this experience with my colleagues from the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of the University of Puerto Rico and encourage them to volunteer in this type of activities. I will also share this experience in the classes that I teach to undergraduate and graduate students of at the University of Puerto Rico. It is very important for the student population to know about how volunteering aboard can improve the livelihoods for so many youths around the world.
In closing, I really appreciate the new relationships I have acquired with people from the RRF and Winrock International. My special and personal gratitude goes to Mr. Badal Golder, Project Manager Specialist, Winrock International, and Mrs. Shahnaz Begum, Assistant Director, RRF, for their friendship and professional support during the activities. This experience, working with Winrock International in Bangladesh, has enriched my life and I feel it has empowered my career. After 22 years of teaching Animal Sciences, I believe that a higher education degree is not complete without the experience to be a volunteer and have the ability to help and transfer to people the knowledge that we have had the opportunity to acquire during our life.