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March 2016

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BREAKING NEWS: United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced today that The Wallace Center at Winrock International will be the national coordinator of a new USDA program that will support Value Chain Coordinators across the country. Read more.

Forest and water resources are essential for domestic, agricultural and ecological use and are maximized by effective and efficient water resource management. To raise awareness of issues related to forests and water, USAID’s Climate-Resilient Ecosystems and Livelihoods (CREL) Project produced this video as part of the International Day of Forests, March 21.

As part of International Women's Day, Winrock reflected on the extraordinary roles that our women volunteers have played to improving lives around the world.

Hand seeders save time, reduce labor costs and potentially increase soybean yields for smallholders in Burma. That means improved livelihoods for farmers. Watch one of the machines in action.

Former Winrock staff and volunteers are now collaborating on a Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) small grant program in Mali. We are so proud of our F2F family ... and you will be too after you watch this inspiring video.

Winrock is proud to contribute tools for improving women’s leadership to the 2nd edition of the Intervention Guide for Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI): Practitioners' Guide To Selecting and Designing WEAI Interventions.

Are you interested in working at Winrock? Search current openings and post your resume. Would you like to volunteer with Winrock? Learn more about new opportunities for volunteers.

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Burma: 'The Coffee Trip of a Lifetime'
Coffee Farmers in BurmaSomething special is brewing for smallholder coffee producers in Burma.

For the vast majority of coffee drinkers in the United States and around the world, java from Burma remains an unexperienced delight. But, with Winrock connecting hundreds of smallholder farmers with international coffee buyers recently, that may be primed to change.

In February, two years after a single Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer visited the country to explore its virtually unknown coffee landscape, the USAID-funded Value Chains for Rural Development project and the nonprofit Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) arranged a visit for eight “relationship coffee” buyers. These buyers — owners or representatives of socially conscious companies — offer premium prices to small-scale coffee growers engaged in sustainable farming and rural development. The group included elite roasters and importers from Seattle, Los Angeles, Princeton and St. Louis, as well as buyers from the United Kingdom and New Zealand. A buyer from Allegro Coffee Co., which supplies Whole Foods Markets, also attended.

The group toured a dozen coffee farms, tasted sun-dried natural Arabica coffee varietals, and visited smallholders in the country’s remote coffee highlands, where farmers had never met with prospective international importers. 

“I know I speak for all the buyers when I say it was the coffee trip of a lifetime,” said Craig Holt, owner of Atlas Coffee Importers (Seattle) and Board Chairman for CQI. “All of us see the potential to do something great on behalf of these communities, and we're all motivated.” 

While details of a groundbreaking potential export deal are still under discussion, plans are underway to showcase Burma’s smallholder coffee for the first time at the world’s largest annual specialty coffee trade event next month: The Specialty Coffee Association of America’s 2016 Expo in Atlanta. Stay tuned!

A Game-Changer for Farmers Struggling to Get Their Produce to Market
A farmer at the collection center.On a foggy winter morning in early February, smallholder farmers in the Jessore district of Bangladesh contributed to a hectic and previously unusual sight. 
Some farmers sorted produce under a large shed adjacent to a vast field of crops. Even more eagerly bargained with the very buyers who, not long ago, wouldn’t have bothered to come out here on a morning like this.

“We used to struggle a lot to take our products to market in foggy or rainy days (before) the establishment of this collection center,” said farmer Nizam Uddin, while sorting his tomatoes. “(Now) this is an everyday affair during this season.

“In pick season, the place is so crowded that you cannot stand here.”

The Birnarayanpur village, in the Sadar upazila, is well known throughout the region for high yields; yet farmers struggled to make a profit because of a poor supply chain. Before the Winrock-implemented Cold Chain Bangladesh Alliance (CCBA) set up this collection center, farmers spent far too much time and money to take their crops to the market because of terrible road conditions.

“There were days when we cut our crops, but could not sell them as we could not take them to market. But things have changed. Now the buyers come to (us),” says Mofidul Molla, another area farmer.

At the collection center, farmers can sort, grade, clean and package their crops and, most importantly, sell directly to the buyers. From October to December 2015, nearly 300 metric tons of vegetables were sold, generating approximately USD
54,398 in revenue for the farmers. Buyers also benefit from the increased accessibility of their basic necessities and the availability of large numbers of farmers.

CCBA, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development, has set up eight collection centers and dozens of aggregation points in nine regions of Bangladesh.

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