Horticulture Professor Helps Angolan Farmers Recover From War, Produce Fruit to Feed a Nation
Dr. Malcolm Manners (second from left) worked in Angola from July 7 to August 2. As part of the USAID’s Farmer to Farmer Program.
Dr. Malcolm Manners (left) at the Coopecunha Coop nursery.
LAKELAND, Fla. (Aug. 22, 2011) — Dr. Malcolm Manners, the John and Ruth Tyndall Professor of Citrus Science at Florida Southern College, has taken his agricultural expertise to Angola, Africa, where he has worked for two years to establish a sustainable tropical fruit and citrus nursery program. His work on behalf of the much-needed program is helping Angolans to recover from decades of war, famine, and agricultural losses.
Since 1996, Dr. Manners has donated much of his time and knowledge to communities around the world who are in need of his expertise as they expand and enrich their fruit and citrus programs. He believes his volunteer work is important not only to those he helps in other countries but also to the students at FSC that he hopes to motivate and encourage to get involved themselves.
This year, Dr. Manners worked in Angola from July 7 to August 2. As part of the USAID’s Farmer to Farmer Program, the trip was coordinated by Citizen’s Network for Foreign Affairs (CNFA). The CNFA works to determine specific needs in communities throughout Africa, and then searches for volunteers whose skills match those needs. Last year, several Angolan cooperatives identified a need to plant and grow fruit trees and Dr. Manners was asked to assist them.
The Coopecunha cooperative successfully implemented Dr. Manners’ recommendations from his first visit. When he returned to assess the progress this year, he was pleased and impressed with the farmers’ achievements. The cooperative was thriving and had increased its revenue by $25,000 over the previous year. Additionally, the cooperative was able to give away half of the citrus trees it produced to the people living in the surrounding community. The cooperative also earned enough money to build a greenhouse, which is expected to increase fruit production by 200%.
“The program is really taking off. It’s amazing to see what the farmers are doing, how successful they are becoming, and how they are giving back to their community,” said Dr. Manners.
In addition to his work with the Coopecunha group, Dr. Manners taught another cooperative a better process for growing citrus, mango, avocado, papaya, and passion fruit.
Angola is in the process of recovering from a civil war that spanned nearly three decades and left hundreds of thousands of people dead as well as another million displaced from their homes. The prolonged war destroyed the country’s infrastructure and economy. The agricultural industry was decimated and most of the commercial farming programs reverted back to subsistence agriculture. As a result, agricultural knowledge from previous generations was lost in the war — something the Farmer to Farmer Program is trying to remedy.
“Angola is an optimistic place and the people are making remarkable progress,” said Dr. Manners. “I feel like we have accomplished something great.”
That accomplishment is important to Dr. Manners who is a two-time recipient of the prestigious President’s Volunteer Service Award. He also is proud of the impact Florida Southern College has had on communities around the globe through its Student Awareness Generates Action (SAGA) initiative, a campus-wide program that promotes community service and volunteerism among students. “Through FSC’s SAGA promotion, we are emphasizing awareness of the needs in the world. I hope that it inspires all of our students to think about what they can do to help others and to improve the world around them. That’s an important concept. Everyone should know that there are things they can do to make a real difference by volunteering just a little time and effort.”
See more photos of Dr. Manners trip at http://bit.ly/nwk9t0 .