Convoy of Hope, the University of Missouri, and USAID — through USAID’s Farmer-to-Farmer program — continue to create generational change in the Bahamas through agriculture. Convoy and USAID are bringing long-term solutions to major problems caused by 2019’s Hurricane Dorian. People across the islands are decreasing their dependence on food imports, increasing agricultural knowledge, and finding sustainable solutions.
Agronomy specialists from the University of Missouri Agriculture Extension have gone on several of the trips. They teach various topics centered on agriculture, farming, and horticulture. Each spends one to two weeks of their time holding training sessions and working hands-on with farmers. These professional agronomists are choosing to share their wealth of knowledge and expertise with people who otherwise could not acquire either on their own.
“The eagerness of the Bahamian farmers to learn was refreshing,” said Valarie Tate, a Field Specialist in Agronomy, “as was their kindness and generosity, not only to us, but to other Bahamian people. This experience reiterated the importance of science-based education and has renewed my energy and enthusiasm for teaching agriculture to farmers in the U.S. and abroad.”
Kathi Mecham, a Horticulture Specialist, taught sessions on produce loss mitigation. While in the Bahamas, she discussed backyard farming, as well as church, community, and commercial farming. She was also able to see the 100 gardening kits a local church was giving away to help community members grow their own food.
“The people were incredible,” said Kathi. “They stay positive and are appreciative of the learning opportunities. They make a lot out of the limited resources they have, always with a smile on their face and a warmth in their hearts. They were growing more than I thought possible in the type of soil they have.”
Convoy of Hope is committed to serving the Bahamas and has been a constant presence on the island chain since Hurricane Dorian. While disaster response is initially what brought the organization to the island, it’s agriculture that’s keeping it there. Convoy sees an incredible opportunity to break the cycles of poverty and hopelessness that keep so many people in the Bahamas from realizing their dreams.
Kathi put it best: “They produce big results with little resources. Imagine what can be accomplished with more resources.”