The U.S. Agency for International Development's Food for Peace: Farmer-to-Farmer program connects volunteers in the United States with farmers in developing nations. The goal is to help make sustainable improvements in food processing, production and marketing. Purdue Extension educators not only share their knowledge with the farmers, they also come home with perspective-changing international experience they can use in their home communities.
In 2010 and 2011, Purdue Extension received USAID funding to send educators to Costa Rica to work with 40 of the nearly 250 families that make up the Asociación de Productores Orgánicos de Turrialba (Turrialba Organic Producers Association), or APOT. APOT farmers grow organic products such as coffee, cacao, citrus fruits and livestock. Purdue Extension educators meet with APOT farmers and host workshops to share agricultural and business practices commonly used in the United States.
In 2012, Purdue Extension educators will work with nearly 40 new families from the Cabecar indigenous group. The focus of their work includes improving the business planning skillset of the Cabecar farmers. APOT and Cabecar families will, in turn, train the rest of their groups, who will continue to share their knowledge with other aspiring organic farmers.
Tamara Benjamin, a Purdue Agriculture research scientist stationed at the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in Costa Rica, coordinates the project, along with Jim Murren, program facilitator for Purdue's International Programs in Agriculture.
In 2011, Purdue Extension educators traveled to Costa Rica in three separate groups for two weeks at a time. They are: J.W. Fansler, Scott County; Scott Monroe, Daviess County; Ed Farris, Huntington County; Carmen DeRusha, Marion County; Amy Thompson, Monroe County; Stacy Clupper, Blackford County; Kris Parker, Porter County; Bill Horan, Wells County; and Margie Zoglmann, Perry County.
In 2012, Thompson, DeRusha and Parker will return to Costa Rica with three other educators: Amanda Chraca, LaPorte County; Melinda Grismer, Clinton County; and Miranda Ulery, Harrison County.