Elizabeth City, North Carolina — Dr. Felix Buabeng, program coordinator/instructor of the Agribusiness Technology program at College of The Albemarle (COA), had the unique opportunity to participate in the Farmer-to-Farmer program, established by the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID), over the college’s winter break.
From the USAID website, the John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer program “provides technical assistance from highly-skilled U.S. volunteers to farmers, farm groups, agribusinesses, service providers and other agriculture sector institutions in developing and transitional countries. The program’s goal is to promote sustainable improvements in both food security and agricultural production, processing and marketing.” Interested candidates apply through the website and applications go through a selection process. Dr. Buabeng had first heard of the Farmer-to-Farmer program through a faculty member at his previous academic institution and this was his first time participating.
Dr. Buabeng was assigned to Tajikistan, Central Asia for three weeks. His assignment, “Vegetable Production: Technology transfer related to Greenhouse Vegetable production management,” was to communicate and offer technical advice to local high tunnel vegetable growers on the basics of vegetable growing technology, addressing issues including soil testing, pest and disease control, heating and humidity control, growing technology, soil sterilization and fumigation, nursery care and seed selection.
“Having the ability to offer my services to the global community, and the opportunity to apply my experience and education to enhance rural agricultural food systems, was the central piece of this volunteering assignment,” explained Dr. Buabeng. “The trip also offered me the opportunity to experience other cultures. I learned different native sustainable techniques used in food production which will be useful in enhancing my students’ concepts of sustainability whilst experimenting it. A presentation will be made to my students this semester to share with them a global perspective about the culture and food systems in Tajikistan.”
Pictured: Dr. Felix Buabeng, program coordinator/instructor of the Agribusiness Technology program, examines tomatoes in a greenhouse in Tajikistan while volunteering for the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer production