This week Feed the Future is celebrating its partners who are working to #EndHunger across the globe. Since 2009, the United States has led the way in strengthening global efforts to reduce poverty, hunger, and undernutrition through the Feed the Future initiative. Winrock International’s USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer Program is currently supporting this mission in three of the 19 Feed the Future focus countries – Bangladesh, Nepal, and Senegal.
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. Six Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers have supported four Feed the Future projects in Bangladesh.
Dr. Daniel Miller, who has completed eight Farmer-to-Farmer assignments in Bangladesh, worked with the Feed the Future Livestock Production for Improved Nutrition project to train 50 private sector entrepreneurs on cattle herd management techniques. This training better equips the private sector entrepreneurs to educate smallholder farmers on proper herd management and treatment practices. Dr. Mahbub Alam, Livestock Team Leader for the Livestock Production for Improved Nutrition project expressed, “Daniel Miller’s training and the module he developed have been a complete package for our staff and private sector entrepreneurs to conduct future training on improved dairy cattle herd management for the farmers. I expect that the private sector entrepreneurs who received training would be able to show some noticeable changes.”
In 2015, volunteer Dr. Yangming “Martin” Lo conducted two trainings with Feed the Future’s Cold Chain Bangladesh Alliance on good agricultural practices (GAP) and developing GAP guidelines for farmers. After the training, the project was able to disseminate information on improved pre- and post- harvest management, safe use of pesticides, GAP, and sanitation standard operating procedures to 6,750 (40% youth) fruit and vegetable farmers. The project prioritized protocols to set up a three-tiered Bangladesh-specific GAP system based on farmers’ needs, input from government and non-government actors, and findings from a stakeholder workshop. “[The] Farmer-to-Farmer training helped our staff to learn improved information and knowledge on GAP,” said Dr. Md. Anisur Rahman, the project’s Deputy Chief of Party. “The staff are providing training and disseminating information to the farmers efficiently, and thus farmers are getting improved results.”
Dr. Vonny Barlow, a University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources entomology expert, conducted training sessions on proper pesticide use for the Feed the Future Agro-Inputs Project. Since the volunteer assignment, the project and the Agro-Input Retailers Network have been able to train 245 retailers and disseminate information on safe pesticide use to over 9,000 farmers. The Agro-Input Retailers Network members have rearranged shelved pesticides according to World Health Organization toxicity color codes and organized 150 farmer field days to share the information with farmers. Improved pesticide practices will subsequently help improve judicious use of pesticides and ultimately food safety and food security for the people of Bangladesh.
Dr. John Woiwode provided training for the Feed the Future Aquaculture for Income and Nutrition project on hatchery management and set up of a water recirculation system for fish hatchery operations. After the training, the host was able to train others on water recycling techniques for carp and tilapia hatcheries and help two other hatcheries to install water recycling systems. The systems allow for consistent supply of water to ensure production throughout the season. With one production season, the cost the equipment is able to pay for itself, and reduce energy consumption by 20%. Over 2,500 fish farmers have benefited by obtaining a consistent supply of improved quality fish spawns from those hatcheries. The host noted that Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer assistance built their confidence to help private hatchery operators to install improved water recycling systems in fish hatcheries, which contributed to low cost, good quality spawn production, and thus increased fish production.
Currently, about 27 million people live in Feed the Future’s target regions in Bangladesh where food security and nutrition present major challenges. With the continued support of generous volunteers and ongoing collaboration through the Farmer-to-Farmer program, Winrock hopes to continue to support the important mission of Feed the Future to ultimately improve the lives of Bangladeshis for years to come.
To learn how you can volunteer with Winrock through the Farmer-to-Farmer program and help #EndHunger, visit winrock.org/join-us/volunteer/.