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Posts tagged: FAS

USDA Borlaug Fellow Helps Farmers in His Native Country

Researcher and Borlaug Fellow Issah Sugri (right) with a farmer

Researcher and Borlaug Fellow Issah Sugri (right) working with peanut farmers in Ghana to address aflatoxin issues. Photo credit: courtesy of Issah Sugri

Issah Sugri of Ghana is helping his nation feed itself and improve its farmers’ efficiency thanks to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program. The Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program, funded by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), is a six to 12 week training program that pairs up-and-coming researchers from selected countries with mentors from a U.S. land-grant institution or government agency. Sugri, one of 36 FAS Borlaug Fellows in 2012, was assigned to the University of Florida with the specific goal of reducing post-harvest losses of tomatoes by better understanding climate-relevant, low-tech methods of extending shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables.

When he returned to Ghana, Sugri put his fellowship training to immediate use. Collaborating with fellow researchers at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR-SARI), based in Bawku, Ghana, he published fact sheets for local farmers describing optimal harvest and storage conditions. Sugri even included his mobile phone number so he could accept field questions and provide clarification.  He also worked with extension agents to train producers on post-harvest loss avoidance techniques and their economic benefits. At Sugri’s urging, SARI hired a dedicated food scientist to focus additional research on the topic. Read more »

Kenyan Credits McGovern-Dole Program for Changing His Life

Peter Mumo of Kenya meets with Amy Harding, deputy director of the FAS Food Assistance Division

Peter Mumo of Kenya meets with Amy Harding, deputy director of the FAS Food Assistance Division, in Washington. Photo credit: Steve Taravella, United Nations World Food Program

As a young boy in eastern Kenya, Peter Mumo faced a life of poverty, hunger and illness. That is until he started receiving school meals at the age of nine through the USDA McGovern–Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program. After that, his life turned around. He started to gain weight, his health improved and he began doing well in school.

And now, at age 28, he is in Des Moines, Iowa, to take part in a six-week business and entrepreneurship training program hosted by Drake University as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship. The Fellowship is the flagship program of the Obama Administration’s Young African Leaders Initiative that empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training and networking. Read more »

Discovering New Opportunities in Thailand – from Grains and Greens to Seafood

FAS Administrator Phil Karsting showing U.S. organic produce

FAS Administrator Phil Karsting shows one example of U.S. organic produce from Earthbound Farms, now available at the Gourmet Market at Siam Paragon shopping complex in Bangkok. Photo credit: U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand

In mid-August, I traveled to Southeast Asia and witnessed firsthand the great strides being made to help increase food security and trade. I also came to appreciate the immense potential for future trade opportunities in the area. I returned with a reaffirmed sense of urgency to continue building upon recent gains in trade with Thailand.

Thailand purchased a record $1.7 billion in food and agricultural products last year from the United States, making it our 13th largest export market. Overall, U.S. agricultural exports to Thailand have grown by more than 150 percent over the past decade. Throughout my visit, growing demand for both U.S. bulk commodities and consumer products was very clear. Read more »

Showcasing New Opportunities in the Growing Philippines Food and Beverage Market

Dane International Commodities showcasing its products

Dane International Commodities, Inc., a Philippine importer specializing in the supply of U.S. nuts, California raisins, other dried fruits and food ingredients, showcases its products to food franchises attending a marketing event in Manila organized by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

As the largest U.S. food and beverage export market in Southeast Asia and one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, the Philippines is attracting top food franchises. To showcase these new market opportunities, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and U.S. Commercial Service offices in Manila organized a first-ever cooperative marketing event for the country.

Supported by the Philippine Franchise Association and the Hotel and Restaurant Purchasing Managers Association of the Philippines, the event brought together more than 15 importers and 180 key decision makers of U.S. and Philippine-grown food franchises. Not only did the event showcase the availability, quality and uses of U.S. fine foods and beverages, it also linked importers with food franchises and helped them identify market access issues, trends and new trade opportunities. Read more »

Cacao for Peace: How the Fruit of a Tree Could Help Sustain Peace and Revive Rural Communities in Colombia

Cacao Hunters

By partnering with Cacao Hunters, a specialty chocolate producer, Colombia’s indigenous Arhauco farmers have been able to sell their cacao at a premium price. USDA’s Cacao for Peace initiative will help replicate this success on a larger scale by creating new opportunities for Colombia’s 35,000 small-scale cacao farmers.

I’ve learned a lot about cacao lately. I learned that it’s pronounced ka-COW. I learned that it’s grown on trees in tropical climates and is the essential ingredient in chocolate, cocoa powder and cocoa butter. I learned that it’s not to be confused with coca, which is an illicit crop and the primary ingredient in cocaine.

I also learned that Colombia, despite having near-perfect growing conditions for the cacao tree, produces a small fraction of the world’s supply. So how might cacao help solidify peace in Colombia after a 52-year armed conflict and, at the same time, enhance the U.S.-Colombia relationship? I discovered how when I visited last month and learned more about USDA’s Cacao for Peace project. Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Mary Safie

Mary Safie pictured with Jamie Clover Adams, Jamie Zmitko-Somers, and Allie Fox

(Right to Left) Mary Safie, owner of Safie Specialty Foods pictured with Jamie Clover Adams, Director of Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), Jamie Zmitko-Somers, MDARD’s International Marketing Program Manager of the Office of Agriculture Development and Allie Fox, MDARD’s International Marketing Assistant of the Agriculture Development Division at the 2016 National Restaurant Association in Chicago.

Every month, USDA shares the story of a woman in agriculture who is leading the industry and helping other women succeed along the way. This month, we hear from Mary Safie, owner of Safie Specialty Foods. In 1994, Mary took over her family’s canning business which began in 1929 in her grandfather’s kitchen with food grown on his farm in Chesterfield Township, Michigan. Specializing in pickled vegetables, Safie’s has experienced success domestically and abroad, with assistance from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and State Regional Trade Groups. Read more »