Tuesday, January 24, 2012

MRPers in Latin America, Part 1

Over winter break, 1st year MRP students, Maren Hill and Marshall McCormick, continued their research on community health and the Sustainable Rural Cities (SRC) model on local agricultural livelihoods, respectively, in Chiapas, Mexico. Their trip was funded through Tinker Travel grants from the Latin American Studies Department. Maren and Marshall began their research in the International Studies in Planning workshop taught in the fall semester by Marcela González Rivas. Their class's research will be presented throughout the course of the semester in the Seminar in International Planning and LATA/IARD 4010.

First SRC in Nuevo Juan de Grijalva, Chiapas, Mexico
Photo credit: Marshall McCormick

Additionally, Marshall was selected to participate in a CIIFAD SMART trip in the Dominican Republic. He and a group of four other SMART fellows conducted a feasibility study of farmers cooperatives in the San Juan region of the Dominican Republic. Their aim was to help farmers reduce costs or increase productivity. The group encouraged the famers to create a cooperative which would help reduce interest rates, access funds from real banks, and begin to offer loans against group assets such as building, tractors, etc and buy items in larger amounts at a cheaper cost. The SMART fellows also advised on constructing a storage facilities to hold goods for several months when prices are higher.

Marshall with farmers in the DR Photo credit: Marshall McCormick