Ogechukwu Tasie is a post doctoral research fellow at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University and a member of the Institute of Food Technologists. She completed her first volunteer assignment remotely with the ACDI/VOCA-led and USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer Program training women in Tajikistan how to expand their recipes for canned fruits and vegetables and improve product quality. Read our Q&A with Ogechukwu below and learn more about how to volunteer with ACDI/VOCA.
An experience, they say, is the best teacher. I had the opportunity to volunteer remotely for ACDI/VOCA’s Farmer-to-Farmer Program, funded by USAID, in the Central Asian country of Tajikistan. The program provides technical assistance from U.S. volunteers to farmers, farm groups, agribusinesses, and other agriculture sector institutions to promote improvements in food security and agricultural processing, production, and marketing.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I conducted this work remotely. My task was to provide mentorship, guidance, and recommendations on homemade canning and food preservation to my host and other local women in Tajikistan. It was an exciting experience because I worked with the best team: Muzaffar Yorazizov, the project coordinator, and Nargis Ibragimova, the local volunteer and home canning specialist. They both made me feel as if I was there in Tajikistan with them. We communicated through WhatsApp video and calls, and the training took place on video calls with a group of housewives in Tajikistan.
It was challenging because I was not there physically, but I trusted Ms. Nargis, who together with Mr. Muzaffar conveyed to me how each day’s task went. It was a wonderful experience for me to see smiles on the women’s faces and watch as Ms. Nargis prepared the day’s canning activity with so much diligence and joy.
We taught the group about the proper sterilization of lids and jars before canning and the processing time for water bath canning. We also provided simple recipes for jam, pickle, and sauce canning. This training empowered the group with canning skills and simple recipes for canning fruits and vegetables. Even though there were limited resources and tools, they were still able to use what was available to them at the moment.
During training, you could see women excited — some making videos and taking notes. I was impressed. As a result of the training, the hosts and families were able to use water bath canning to preserve their vegetables and fruits at the proper sterilization time, providing them with more food security and more income potential selling their products.
I want to say thank you for this opportunity to work with women in Tajikistan. I built a great friendship with Muzaffar and Nargis. I am profoundly grateful and hope to volunteer more in the future.
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