Thursday, January 18, 2018

U.S. and Japan Beef Trade

Agriculture products are traded around the world and are very important to agriculture markets and farmers bottom lines. This week we take a look at the relationship between Japan and the United States on trade, specifically Beef. We encourage you to look over the attached article and utilize the discussion points below to guide conversations in your classrooms, coffee shops, and communities around the world!

U.S. Urges Japan to Eliminate Import Restrictions on U.S. Beef

Discussion Points

  • What is the history of beef trade between Japan and the United States?
  • What trade agreements does your home country have with others? Why are these trade agreements so important?
  • Recently I moderated a panel of agriculture experts who stressed the importance of building positive relationships with other countries to strengthen trade agreements. In your opinion what are the best ways to build strong relationships with other countries?
  • What are your predictions on the future of U.S. beef imports into Japan and why?

Monday, January 8, 2018

Final Hurrah in Haiti

Today was our final full day in Haiti. It’s hard to believe how quickly our time has gone and how much has been accomplished. We started off the morning going in many different directions. Some ventured to the preschool and elementary to teach, others spearheaded more tractor operation training, and a small group tested soil in the lab. These activities took us right up to lunch.

Following lunch we all made our way to teach an English lesson at the elementary. Once we had completed our lesson we split into two groups. One prepped a meal for the feeding center and the other helped move medical equipment from the clinic up to the university. We then came together to make our way to the feeding center to distribute the meal to the young children in the community. Upon our return we took time to recognize the students from UCCC for their hard work over the past week. We presented certificates of recognition for “Tractor Fundamentals” and “Problem Solving Workshop.” It was evident the Haitian students were proud of their achievements from the past week.

We concluded our day with volleyball and more intense games of spoons. It has truly been an unforgettable experience with a group that has become more like a family than friends. Great things were achieved this past week, but there is a lot more work yet too do. We look forward to continuing to collaborate and move agriculture forward with our partners in Haiti. Stay tuned for some exciting news from this partnership coming in the next couple of weeks!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sunday Reflections

Today was a little bit slower paced. After enjoying cinnamon rolls for breakfast we walked up to check out Sunday School before church. We then attended the church service and heard beautiful music and a great message from JeanJean. On Sunday’s the kitchen help gets the day off which means it was our time to cook and do dishes. Thanks to Julie for spearheading lunch. Following lunch we had some down time to reflect on what we have accomplished in the past couple days. Some enjoyed the hammock, others visited while soaking in the sun, and overall we took time to relax. Something that most of us do not take time to do in our fast pace lives back home. We truly can learn a lot from our friends in Haiti. We could all take a little more time to slow down and reflect on things.

Late afternoon we went for a hike to a cave in the side of the mountain. It was great to get out and about and see where they collect a fertilizer source for crops. They collect guano from the cave for fertilizer. It was also great to eye many different crops and livestock on our hike to the cave. After our hike we once again enjoyed refreshing sour orange juice from the local juice bar.

Tonight we enjoyed a barbecue chicken dinner and the wonderful sounds of the local men’s choir. This choir has been together for over 37 years. They even invited us to join them and sing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” We look forward to our final full day in Haiti tomorrow.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Mingling in the Market

We woke up to more rain this morning which made us rework our teaching plans for the morning. Yes! We had students show up on a Saturday morning for class. By the time most of the students had arrived the rain had stopped. This allowed training time for a couple more students on the post hole digger operation and general tractor operation. By mid morning we began assembling a two row planter side by side with the students and ran some seeds through it to test it and teach them how to make adjustments. It was rewarding to see so many students show up on a Saturday morning to learn more.

After a morning of education we loaded up and headed to Pignon to the market. The overnight rain left the roads a little sloppy. Thanks to the expert driving skills of our driver we arrived in Pignon with no problems. The market was packed with locals purchasing everything from clothes to medication to agricultural products. It was great to see how they marketed fruits, vegetables, meat, and livestock.

After we returned to campus we ventured out to deliver more rice and beans to area families. It was great to connect with the local Haitians and see more of the countryside. After our delivereies we visited the juice bar again and enjoyed a refreshing sour orange juice. We tried to catch a sunset from the third floor of the university tonight, but the clouds spoiled our plans. We enjoyed pizza for supper before an evening of conversations and cards with great friends!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Mudding With the Bus

Today we had an awesome opportunity to take a field trip to the Hinche area to explore agriculture. A group of about 35 from UCCC and Hawkeye had this opportunity thanks to the sponsorship of Orchard Hill Church farmers from Iowa. Due to the unusual rain yesterday the roads where a bit slippery to say the least. I think it is safe to say it was the first time most of us have been “mudding” on a bus. Before lunch we were able to visit an area outside Hinche that is partnered with Whispering Roots, an organization in Omaha, Nebraska. They are producing about 12,000 tilapia in cages and have large gardens. It was great to see the interaction between the farmers from Hinche and the students from UCCC excahnage information and have great discussions. While in the area we, also, stopped by and visited an organization that shares farming practices with Haitian farmers. They focus on plant and crop production, but had aquaculture as well.

The group enjoyed a chicken lunch at a cozy restaurant in Hinche, before we returned to the Caiman area. This was a rare experience for the students and it was great to see their excitement from the day. When we returned to campus we trekked out to deliver rice and beans to families in the area. We are grateful to Randy and Jill Konken for purchasing the rice and beans to be delivered. While walking back to campus we found some area children playing soccer and joined in for a bit. Many took the opportunity to get some additional physical activity with a volleyball game on campus upon our return.

After dinner tonight Nelson, who is a former witch doctor, joined us to share his story. It was an eye opening experience for the group into the history and culture of Haiti. There is no questioning the dedication of the students here in Haiti. They are excited to join us on Saturday morning to learn more and help us assemble the one row planter.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Breaking Ground in Haiti

Today was another productive day of agricultural education! We started off the day by continuing to prep the ground for planting. While we were utilizing the plow and teaching students how to plow ground we had a serious discussion on conservation tillage and the importance of conserving and building up soil. It was great to see the Haitian students taking what we had taught them and turning around and teaching their classmates.

After our time in the fields we had a great workshop on problem solving in agriculture. This was an interactive workshop that got the students out of their comfort zones a bit. It was rewarding to hear the students excitement that we were asking for their thoughts and expertise in solving agriculture problems, instead of others telling them what to do.

Following lunch we split the students into two groups and worked side by side with them to assemble a post hole digger for the tractor, that will be used for a variety of applications, and a workshop on how to research material utilizing the internet. We are excited to see how they will use both the post hole digger and research knowledge to move things forward.

Late afternoon we traveled to one of UCI’s nearby feeding centers that provides three meals a week for the local children. We assisted with serving the children a rice and bean meal. We didn’t spend as much time at the feeding center as usual as a rain shower moved in. The unseasonably rain gave us time this evening to visit with each other on the front porch of our dorm and enjoy papaya juice from the nearby “juice bar.” Once again we ended this evening with intense games of spoons!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Professional Rock Picking Team

Today was our first full day in Haiti! We got a lot accomplished, but realize we have a lot left to do. We started off the day by visiting UCI’s broiler chicken house. This is their second group of 1,000 broilers. The first group of laying hens will be arriving within the next week. Next we explored the irrigation gardens where they produce a variety of fruits and vegetables and raise talapia. It is amazing to see the production in this area and shows the true potential of agriculture in Haiti.

Before lunch Kristie took us for a tour of the UCI campus. She shared the story of UCI and how things became the way they are. It is truly a remarkable story! After lunch some of us worked with the university on tractor safety and operation  while others organized clothing donations. For the tractor crew we went over prepping land for planting.  Although it’s not a popular job we started with picking rocks. We have determined that we have the best rock picking team this side of the Dominican Republic! From there we went over running the brush mower and tomorrow we will cover plowing.

We ended the day by taking in a very competitive volleyball game between neighboring towns, packed rice and beans for distribution, and engaged in an intense game of spoons. We look forward to getting back at it tomorrow morning!