Farmer to Farmer Project Is a Great Success in Meta
The Farmer to Farmer Project in Colombia is a USAID and VEGA funded project that was designed to support small producers with the help of volunteers from the United States. But it is so much more than that. The ultimate goal is to promote a sustainable local foods system that benefits both farmers and consumers, while strengthening the local economy and preserving the local culture. It is a broad project with the power to generate tremendous impact.
Dr. Jess Lowenberg-Deboer, Professor of Agricultural Economics, has led the project since its inception in 2015 with the support of Andrea Burniske, currently withGlobal Engineering Programs at Purdue, and Tamara Benjamin, Purdue Extension. The project was initiated from International Programs in Agriculture (IPIA). Emma Charlebois, IPIA, handles the day-to-day management. The project depends on a partnership that was made with Dr. Alvaro Ocampo at the Universidad de los Llanos (Unillanos). Unillanos is the critical basepoint that allows Purdue to contact and interact with farmers in Meta. Overall, the project seeks to send a total of 40 US volunteer experts to Colombia with the purpose of addressing specific problems that the farmers and producers are experience in the Orinoquia region of Colombia. No one is sent unless they have the skills required to assess the needs of local producers. Volunteers stay in Colombia for two-week assignments, and Purdue, along with Unillanos, ensure that the solutions proposed are applicable and affordable.
The Farmer to Farmer project has become a model project. Originally founded on the basic idea of transferring knowledge and technology, it has become an effort that transforms the way Colombians think about food, farming, cultural preservation and land management. It is beginning to shape an entire local food system that connects growers with consumers and ties an outlying Department, Meta, with the Colombian capital, Bogotá. The project has taken lessons from previous efforts that individuals companies, restaurants, and chefs in the capital and other large Colombian cities made in this direction. The most remarkable aspect of this initiative has been its ability to bring organization, lacking in other efforts, that was necessary to create a true culture of gastronomía, or an awareness of the importance of buying local foods and supporting local economies.
Farmer to Farmer Volunteer Amanda Dickson is teaching Colombian livestock producers the importance and basic of financial and production record keeping
Group of Colombian livestock producers organizing financial and production records for a sample farm
Colombian livestock producers are learning how to organize financial and production records for a local farm
Group of Colombian livestock producers learning about record keeping for their farms