USAID initiatives Feed the Future and the volunteer program Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) build food security and strive to end global hunger. Both recognize that these grand goals require energy, resources, information-sharing, talent, and expertise from multiple sectors, truly an “all-hands-on-deck” approach. Feed the Future’s global partnership consists of governments, businesses, NGOS, researchers, universities, and individuals, including everyday Americans who volunteer through F2F.
Aligned with Feed the Future, F2F supports inclusive agricultural growth, facilitates private-sector engagement in agriculture, enhances local capacity, and promotes climate-smart development. Volunteer assignments address local priorities to expand economic growth, increase incomes, and improve access to nutritious food.
Volunteer Supports Food Processor in Georgia through Virtual Means
F2F volunteers are dedicated to helping others, something we need more of, especially now. The COVID-19 crisis has forced ACDI/VOCA, a F2F and FTF implementer, to rethink how we field volunteer assignments to end hunger and fuel economic growth. As a result, we now orchestrate virtual volunteer assignments.
One such volunteer is Barbara Schranz, a food industry professional from Kentucky, who is also a member of the Institute for Food Technologists (IFT). Through ACDI/VOCA’s collaboration with IFT, we invited Barbara to volunteer with us in the Republic of Georgia to provide short-term technical assistance to Davit Janelidze, a food processor in the town of Tskaltubo. The company aims to produce high-quality, nutritional vegetable sauces for local and international markets. It buys the herbs and vegetables it uses in its recipes from 40+ local farmers, thereby strengthening the local agricultural sector.
With her trip postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis, Barbara shifted her focus to share information and better understand her host business’s current needs. Through Skype, WhatsApp, and email, Barbara reviewed the company’s sauces and packaging. When her virtual hosts expressed concern about the taste and color of their sauces, she set up a home test kitchen using the same ingredients. She then sent suggestions on how to improve the flavor and opaqueness by adjusting the ingredients. She also provided guidance on packaging and which natural preservatives increase shelf life.
The timing of her assistance has been crucial for the company because Davit Janelidze had to produce its latest batch of sauces when the herbs and vegetables were at their peak; they could not wait for Barbara to arrive in person. Now, instead of producing low-quality sauces, they craft a better product. Thanks to Barbara, Davit Janelidze will grow a wider customer base and enjoy a higher volume of sales.
While there is certainly more work to do when international travel resumes, until then, volunteers like Barbara are sharing their knowledge and goodwill with host businesses in developing countries. She is one of eight volunteers we are currently working with to support host businesses remotely. We are also recruiting more volunteers and host businesses to join this encouraging trend.
ACDI/VOCA has been a leader in volunteer assistance since 1971, having mobilized over 12,000 professional volunteers to more than 130 countries. To learn more or to join us, visit www.acdivoca.org/volunteer
Learn more about the Institute for Food Technologists here.