The USAID John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) programme, which was started in April 2020, celebrated the culmination of the programme on May 10 and 11 at The University of West Indies, St Augustine, (The UWI) coming out of a collaboration with Purdue University, a land grant university in West Lafayette, Indiana, responsible for the implementation of the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) programme.
For the past three years, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the programme and provided technical assistance from US volunteers to farmers, farm groups, agribusinesses, and other agriculture sector institutions in Trinidad and Tobago. Through this programme, more than 750 people in Trinidad and Tobago were trained across several exciting themes.
The closing ceremony included cultural presentations by host groups and local volunteers who were a part of the programme.
The F2F programme received high praise from campus registrar Dr Dawn-Marie De Four-Gill who spoke on behalf of pro vice-chancellor and campus principal Prof Rose-Marie Belle Antoine.
The programme was also commended by country director for F2F Trinidad and Tobago, Prof Wayne Ganpat, and associate dean and director of Purdue University’s International Programmes in Agriculture (IPIA), Prof Gerald Shively, all of whom delivered remarks at the closing ceremony.
“Farmer-to-Farmer has shown itself to be not only very effective, but also very timely. We are in an era of great uncertainty. The world is still in recovery from the pandemic, and still dealing with the fallout of the Russian-Ukraine war,” said Dr De Four-Gill. She continued stating that “Inflation, although showing some signs of easing, still has impacted food prices globally. The Caribbean, perhaps like never before, has to examine and greatly improve our relationship with food, both as producers and consumers,” she added.
In her remarks, US Ambassador Candace A Bond told participants the US government is committed to helping address food insecurity challenges in the region. She noted that the work being done through the F2F programme is critical to strengthening the food system in Trinidad and Tobago and around the region.
“It has been exciting to see Trinbagonian farmers, extension agents, and agro-processors adapt and adopt new techniques, reach audiences in a different way, and create new products,” said Amanda Dickson, programme director for the F2F programme in Trinidad and Tobago. “This is exactly what this demand-driven technical assistance is for. Farmers are implementing climate-smart techniques that address drought and excess rainfall, precision watering, using less pesticides and in safer ways, and creating food products that are safer, nutritious, and meet food-allergy needs,” Dickson noted.
The dual approach will empower farmers by providing them with an array of technical expertise proven to be highly beneficial to all those involved within the programme. The specialised education has helped to enhance nutrition and health, increase food safety, add value to produce, marketing, help farmers respond to the changing environment, and address many other key challenges.
“This one-on-one attention to skills and knowledge is very beneficial for our groups,” said Prof Ganpat, F2F country director and retired UWI dean, Faculty of Food and Agriculture (FFA). “It complements the support they receive from FFA and extension, but gives more individual attention that is needed.”