Hands-on Training Produces Delicious Results for PVOs and USPB
October 24, 2014
Submitted by Tammie Hettermann, on behalf of US Potato Board
By merely combining fresh local tomatoes, onions, cabbage, and curry with US dehydrated mashed potatoes, a team of workshop participants from multiple private voluntary organizations (PVOs) created a dish they called “Ethiopian Delight” – and took top honors in a friendly contest organized by the United States Potato Board (USPB). The PVO team had been tasked with creating a recipe using US dehydrated potatoes that worked well in an emergency or disaster situation. Two other recipes that were ranked among the top three were Banana Avocado Porridge, created with an emergency/disaster situation in mind, and Potato ”Lafi”, which was envisioned as a dish targeted to people living with HIV/AIDS.
These recipes were only three of the creations thought up by participants in the USPB’s 2014 Dehydrated Potato Workshop, recently conducted in Idaho Falls, Idaho and Washington D.C. The popular workshop allows participants to develop a better understanding of dehydrated potato products and the role in the food basket, experience first-hand the life cycle of the potato from “farm to fork,” and build a working relationship with the US Potato Board.
Fourteen representatives from seven PVOs attended, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Counterpart International, Save the Children, Africare, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), World Vision, and Fabretto. Participants included US-based headquarters personnel, as well as personnel from programming countries such as Nicaragua, Mauritania, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Bangladesh, Niger, Cameroon, and Ethiopia. In addition, USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) representatives participated. Local potato growers and dehydrated potato processors attended meet-and-greet events to round out the experience for PVO participants.
Workshop participants began their journey from “farm to fork” with a visit to USPB Chairman Brett Jensen’s farm, which included a tour of a potato field where potato plants were emerging from the ground, a visit to a potato storage shed containing a crop of potatoes, and an overview of farm equipment and tractors used in potato agriculture. They observed the first steps in processing at Rigby Produce, a fresh pack facility, and learned how fresh potatoes are sorted for the dehydrated potato processing plant.
Workshop attendees continued their journey at the Idaho Pacific processing plant, where they learned how the process and quality assurance procedures
guarantee high-quality dehydrated potato products. The concept of “farm to fork” came full cycle when workshop participants traveled to Miles Willard Technologies for a hands-on, simulated field experience utilizing dehydrated potatoes. Here they experimented with dehydrated potato flakes and granules and competed to create the best tasting recipes. The contest enabled participants to experience firsthand the special features of dehydrated potato products such as versatility, convenience, and fuel and labor economy.
“The hands-on interaction with products was priceless to my understanding of dehy use and benefits,” commented one participant.
“The recipe activity is when the participants have that ‘aha’ moment when they really understand how beneficiaries in the field can benefit by dehydrated potatoes,” explained USPB International Marketing Manager TK Kuwahara. “Many of the participants were really surprised when they tasted how delicious the recipes were and yet how simple and quick they were to prepare.”
Participants then traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the workshop symposium luncheon. This event featured panel discussions and presentations by workshop participants, USAID, and USDA with an emphasis on the uses of dehydrated potatoes in school feeding, vulnerable populations, and emergency and disaster relief food assistance efforts. By hearing program results from PVOs that have programmed or are programming dehydrated potatoes, workshop participants further enhanced their knowledge of US dehydrated potato applications.