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Source: ACDI/VOCA news release

Today ACDI/VOCA's 11,000th volunteer returns from Lebanon, fresh from training farmers on a market information system. Such specialized ACDI/VOCA volunteers have traveled to 130 countries over the past 42 years.

Their expertise has ranged from artichoke production to product packaging, from rural finance to slaughterhouse management, from animal breeding to coffee cupping.

ACDI/VOCA empowers people to succeed in the global economy through approximately 75 current programs worldwide in food security, agribusiness, financial services, community development and enterprise development.

In developing and transitional nations, small- and medium-scale producer groups and enterprises drive economic growth but need techni­cal and managerial assistance, appropri­ate equipment, partners, and new mar­kets and the means to reach them. Volunteers bridge this gap with training, advice on best practices and assistance with plans for growth, helping men and women build local businesses, rural economies and regional trade.

"We are fortunate to have so many high quality professionals in this country willing to volunteer their valuable time. Our volunteers often tell us they learn as much as they teach on their assignments," said Diana Roach, senior director at ACDI/VOCA.

ACDI/VOCA Celebrates the Service of Volunteer Experts
ACDI/VOCA volunteer assignments are entirely field driven. Candidates are recruited and placed based on the needs of clients participating in the organization's long-term development programs.

Most ACDI/VOCA volunteers are seasoned, mid-career or retired professionals who serve in short-term (two- to three-week) technical assistance assignments, helping programs achieve more with less donor funds. The approximately 300 volunteers who serve each year represent $2.7 million of technical assistance value.

USAID John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program
ACDI/VOCA sends volunteers to Africa and the Middle East as part of the U.S. Agency for International Development's Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program, which relies on the expertise of volunteers from U.S. farms, universities, cooperatives, businesses and nonprofits to respond to particular local needs in developing countries.

Dr. Archie Devore, a dairy specialist with the Missouri Extension Service, traveled to Lebanon in 2009 as a Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer to evaluate the feed practices of local dairy producers. Dr. Devore found that most Lebanese small-scale dairy farmers purchased ready-mixed feed rations that lack the nutrients needed for optimal production.

Dr. Devore built on this first assignment to improve knowledge of key but cost-effective nutrients, and over three years conducted training to benefit the producers, feed manufacturers, researchers and technicians.

He said, "I have seen a tremendous increase in understanding of principles as a result of the five F2F assignments that I have made to Lebanon. Minds have been changed, and nutrition and feeding of dairy cows has been improved as a result.

I am so pleased to have been able to have the opportunity to observe the transformation taking place in Lebanon during the short span of four years."

Volunteers add an important people-to-people element to development initiatives, building relationships with individuals and businesses from small farms to financial institutions, large processing companies and business service providers.

These relationships are not fleeting; they often result in long-term business linkages and cultural exchanges. Volunteers learn from first-hand experience the value of foreign assistance.

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