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Mildred Alvarado

Mildred Alvarado

LatinX Farmer Training Coordinator

ma853@cornell.edu

I grew up on a small subsistence farm in western Honduras. On our farm we grew coffee, fruits, vegetables, beans, and corn. As a young girl, I helped grow our crops and market what we produced. My parents, farmers, gave me a one of a kind experience. The experience of working with one's hands turned me into a woman of agriculture.

Continuing my interest in farming, I pursued my studies at the University of Zamorano and, in 2000, I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture, majoring in Natural Resource Management and Rural Development. From 2001 to 2009, while working in Central America, I formulated and implemented programs and projects that supported farmers and ranchers, growers associations, and beginner farmers who worked in the agriculture sector. In 2009, I graduated from the Institute of Economics and Business Administration (ISEADE El Salvador), obtaining a Master (MBA) in Business Administration, focusing on International Markets.

In 2011, I received a second master's degree in Agricultural Sciences (MSc) from UMass Amherst. As part of this program, I researched the performance of Central American markets and analyzed data to determine opportunities for New England apple growers. Then by 2014, I finished my PhD in Agricultural Sciences from UMass Amherst, and researched commercial handling practices to export apples from Massachusetts to Central America, I also researched ethnic crops to be produced in New England by diverse farmers. My research of interest was based on business practices for small farms and small-scale farmer associations to introduce perishable commodities to markets.

My work in the United States has been filled with a diverse community of farmers and families from many countries such as Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Brazil, Kenia, Vietnam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S.; from working with non-profit organizations, universities and the private sector. As a result, sound agricultural practices, postharvest handling, and new promising crops were introduced year-round to supermarkets and niche markets in MA and NYC. With the private sector, I helped to lead the Banana and Avocado Fair Trade and Organic Supply Chain. My time with growers associations included advising them in postharvest quality, management, financial strategies, technical assistance, logistics, and overcoming cultural barriers with growers associations in Peru, Ecuador, and Mexico and buyers in the USA. Further on I worked as a consultant advising government agencies and growers associations in Central and South America to promote a sustainable agricultural sector.

Currently, as the LatinX Farmer Training Coordinator for the Cornell Small Farms Program, I am focused on building bridges to facilitate knowledge and help farmers to overcome linguistic, cultural, and technical barriers to promote inclusive and profitable businesses. Coming from a farm myself facing the challenges that many still face, the SFP’s mission is close to home. The soil of my Honduran farm taught me how to survive, fueled my body, and my dreams which have brought me here to the Small Farms Program Team.