Welcoming our New Agriculture Team!

MFK welcomes a new fellow, Bryan Sobel, to Haiti at the start of this September. Bryan finished his masters degree in horticulture production systems at Cornell University this past May. His thesis focused on cultivation methods for mushrooms, which provide substantial health benefits and are a high value crop for many. Bryan has spent time in Rwanda working on a CRSP (Collaborative Research Support Program) Trellis Project. In Rwanda he lent his expertise to a woman’s cooperative to help increase mushroom yields for many widowed farmers stricken by poverty since the 1994 genocide.

Bryan is also an expert in agroforestry, an integrated farming approach of combining livestock, trees and crops. Agroforestry has shown to be more sustainable and to increase yield for all crops as compared to traditional farming and he is excited to see what role this way of farming can have in Haiti.

This September Bryan is heading down for a year as the development specialist for MFK. Bryan will help graduate students from the US collaborate with farmers in Haiti to research better farming methods. These graduate students have partnered with MFK under the USAID Peanut and Mycotoxin Innovation Laboratory CRSP to further research methods to reduce aflatoxin, increase yields and discover the best peanut varieties for the area. Bryan will also work with the Agriculture Team in furthering its efforts to assist peanut farmers and raise their income. MFK is very excited to welcome him to Haiti and looks forward to the expertise and excitement he can lend to Haiti.

august 23 2013

This summer MFK also welcomes another new member to the agriculture team, Ioanna de Barros. Originally from France, Ioanna graduated with a master’s from ISTOM in International Agro-Development in 2010 and has since been working as a consultant in agri-business and value chain development. These past three years, Ioanna has worked for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on food security programs. Based in Rome, Ioanna worked on agricultural marketing projects in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. During this time Ioanna had a project in the Northeast of Haiti studying peanuts and other crops. Here, she was introduced to MFK’s Jamie Rhoads and learned about MFK’s progress with local peanut supplies. Impressed by the new factory and MFK’s focus on nutritional products for children, Ioanna became interested in working full time in Haiti. After working for such an international institution she was excited to settle down in Haiti with MFK.

august 22 2013 #2

Ioanna arrived to Haiti two weeks ago for her year-long fellowship, bringing her international expertise as a consultant to the agriculture team. She is excited to be back in Haiti where she sees many opportunities to partner with new agricultural projects that are being launched in the area. She will be working with Jamie Rhoads and Bryan Sobel to implement and design new agriculture programs while scaling up the valuable work that the team has already accomplished. Ioanna is ultimately interested in increasing the quality and quantities of local peanuts and increasing the local ingredients used for nutritional products.