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ECHO hosts world for annual agriculture conference | News, Sports, Jobs – North Fort Myers Neighbor

After two years of holding its annual agricultural conference virtually, the world was able to again converge on the ECHO Global Farm in North Fort Myers for three afternoons of tours, seminars, and hands-on training.
The 29th annual conference was held Tuesday through Thursday at the Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport and the ECHO Global Farm, with the theme being “Reflecting, Renewing, Restoring Hope.”
The conference, attended by nearly 200 delegates from 23 countries, was held at the hotel for morning and evening sessions. The afternoon sessions were held at the farm, where delegates got to see and learn about plants and techniques that can help small-scale farmers in food-challenged countries help themselves.
“We invite people from all over the world to learn, share and grow in the context in which they serve,” said Danielle Flood, communications director at ECHO. “It’s wonderful to be back in person, the human connections made are invaluable. Seeing people face to face and share their challenges, struggles and their mission is great.”
Saviour Kaonga, who was from Zambia but now lives in Congo, said he has attended the conference before and now there are people in Congo helping the farmers out there.
“I want to add to the knowledge and experience. I want to be hands-on because if you just hear about it, it’s difficult to grasp,” Kaonga said. “If you have the knowledge and hands on, you have everything.”
Ashley Beachy, with Haitian Relief and Missions, said her husband has attended the conferences for years, but this was her first time.
“I’ve enjoyed getting to know people. I haven’t sat in on a lot of talks because we brought our son along, but it’s been a good experience,” Beachy said. “We have a lot of trees growing in Haiti and my husband tells me to eat moringa and chia, so hearing someone talk about all the benefits is good.”
Joyce Njoro attended for the International Fund for Agricultural Development, a United Nations Agency that supports small farmers in developing countries.
“I’m hoping to learn innovation and different ways to engage in communities from the participants. What can grow and different technologies we can send to the farmers we support,” Njoro said. “There’s a lot of diversity in terms of experiences here where we are all learning together.”
Bounoeuy Kes, with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, knows the importance of food security. From Cambodia, his mother died during the famine and war that took place in the 1970s.
“I came to learn abut the sustainable ministry and ECHO seems to provide that and ideas and principles we can use in Cambodia,” said Kes, who learned about ECHO 15 years ago. “It’s better there now. There is no war so people can focus on developing themselves.”
Abram Bicksler, ECHO’s new president and CEO who took over just before the hurricane, gave talks to delegates at the farm. This is not the first conference for him. His first conference was 20 years ago.
“We have a great team that has done some incredible work, not only in Florida but supporting work all over the world,” Bicksler said. “We need to focus on the foundation we have laid and expand on that.”
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