A Helping Hand Earns A National Service Award

By any measure April 21 was an extraordinary day for Francoise Favi, Ph.D.—it was the day she received the President’s Volunteer Service Award. And it happened during National Volunteer Week.

Favi, a laboratory and research specialist in entomology at VSU’s Agricultural Research Station (ARS), received the national honor for her volunteer work in Bangladesh on a project to grow cassava for industrial use. “I was overwhelmed with joy,” she said. “This work involved a lot of time outside my regular employment. I am very grateful to VSU and everyone who helped… we have made a great contribution toward U.S. assistance for international development.”

Dr. Favi (2nd from right) with single stem variety of cassava showing well developed tubers after six months.

Dr. Favi (2nd from right) with single stem variety of cassava showing well developed tubers after six months.

Cassava, a tropical plant native to South America, is used as an industrial crop in Asia, but is not currently grown in Bangladesh. The cassava’s tuber is used to make gluten-free starch that is turned into the sweetener glucose or flour. Cassava starch is also vital for the country’s clothing industry, which accounts for 20 percent of Bangladesh’s gross domestic product. Ninety percent of cassava starch used in the country is imported from Thailand.

PRAN Agro Business Limited, a food processor and agribusiness company in Bangladesh, started a project to grow cassava for industrial purposes and needed a volunteer to train entrepreneurs. As part of her volunteer work, Favi visited farms to assess the status of cassava production, agricultural practices, problems and potential pests. She trained PRAN staff and cassava producers on improved production methods and developed training modules for future training. She also established a surveillance unit to monitor crop pests and diseases.

Dr. Francoise Favi

Dr. Francoise Favi

President George W. Bush established the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2003. It is awarded annually to individuals, groups and families who have met or exceeded requirements for volunteer service and have demonstrated exemplary citizenship through volunteering. Winrock International (Winrock) is one of thousands of certifying organizations participating in the award program and confers the award to recognize the outstanding achievements of its volunteers. More than 200 people volunteer each year on behalf of Winrock through the Farmer-to-Farmer Program funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

Erica Shambley