Volunteer Shares Organics Expertise In Tunisia

24-Apr-2014 Categories: Our Impact Tunisia Volunteer Stories

Volunteering is a real world way to get outside our desires, and ourselves, to experience something new and rewarding. It’s a way to truly give, just for the satisfaction of helping others achieve a better life.”
-Melody Meyer

For almost 50 years, IESC has set the global standard for identifying and deploying Volunteer Experts (VEs) in technical and managerial assistance    projects overseas. IESC VEs report great satisfaction from helping businesses and organizations improve their operations and compete more effectively. In her blog Organic Matters, VE Melody Meyer wrote “Volunteering is a real world way to get outside our desires, and ourselves, to experience something new and rewarding. It’s a way to truly give, just for the satisfaction of helping others achieve a better life. That is exactly why I am going to Tunisia this week!”

                 VOLUNTEER HIGHLIGHTS
  • Recruited four American buyers and accompanied them on organics buyer’s mission to Tunisia.
  • Traveled to Tunisia for one week with buyers to meet with Tunisian producers and government officials.
  • Visited organic agricultural producers throughout the country to share her expertise and experience outstanding Tunisian products.

In 2012, organic food expert Melody Meyer signed up to serve as an IESC volunteer. In December, 2013, she left the U.S. to connect Tunisian producer with U.S. buyers, and to help the Tunisian government develop agricultural export strategies. Tunisia produces a variety of high quality foods, many of them organically, in particular dates and olives for olive oil and consumption in whole form. Tunisia’s ancient history in agriculture, combined with sophisticated farmers and farming practices give it an unmatched opportunity to supply the EU and markets farther afield.

Ms. Meyer started her career in agriculture at the Iowa Natural Food Cooperative. She then built her own company, Source Organic, which linked organic producers to producers across the globe. She now serves as Vice President of Policy and Industry Relations for United Natural Foods (UNFI). She strongly advocates for organic agriculture through her blog, with Congress, and as a speaker at major international trade missions.

Ms. Meyer is one of over 11,000 IESC Volunteers Experts, with specialized knowledge in areas ranging from agribusiness to infrastructure financing.  The first component of Ms. Meyer’s assignment was to assist program staff in preparing a buyer’s mission with American organics buyers to Tunisia. In the second component, Ms. Meyer traveled with the buyers to Tunisia to meet organic agriculture producers. She also met with Tunisian government ministries to develop trade promotion strategies for the Tunisian organics market. Finally, after returning from Tunisia, Ms. Meyer provided program staff feedback and advised on follow-up activities to the buyer’s mission.

Ms. Meyer’s IESC assignment allowed her to visit  Tunisia for the first time, share decades of expertise, and work closely with Tunisians in one of their most vital sectors. Her blog posts exude her enthusiasm for this assignment, which could revolutionize organic agriculture in Tunisia.

IESC gives volunteer experts challenging assignments which take them across the globe to improve lives through private sector development. Ms. Meyer captured the excitement of an IESC volunteer assignment in her blog, writing, “I really have no idea what I will encounter as I travel to this foreign land, but I am thrilled to get out of my own preoccupations and volunteer to help organic producers.”