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Uzbek 11 member team visits Lanier Tech
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11 member Uzbek team visits Lanier Tech's
world-class Ammonia Refrigeration Training Program

The IARW (International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses) as part of the GCCA (Global Cold Chain Alliance) reached out to Lanier Tech, the official ammonia refrigeration training partner of the IARW, to assist in a visit to the US by an agricultural group from Uzbekistan. Their visit to the US was sponsored by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of a broad program of exchanges between Uzbek and US horticulturalists. Similar exchange visits have been held in California under this mutually reinforcing exchange program with a total of 68 Uzbeks having visited US counterparts in the last year and a half. Lanier Tech was among the sites targeted for the first East Coast visits under this program.

The tour group--eleven Uzbek nationals and Richard (Dick) Dowdell, Cold Storage Specialist--was composed of farmers, businessmen, and a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Management (MAWR) of the Republic of Uzbekistan. All work in, or have an interest in, the cold food supply chain. The mission of the U.S. trip was to learn best practices in growing, harvesting, storing, transporting, and wholesaling/retailing fruits and vegetables. Through their interpreter, the Uzbeks said that they are exactly like U.S. farmers; they want to increase yield, reduce food waste resulting from spoilage, and promote greater food safety. The group’s interpreter, Sunnat Djalalov, had previously studied in the US under the State Department’s Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program from 2006-07.

Tim McDonald, VP of Economic Development briefs the group on entering
Lanier Tech's Ammonia Refrigeration Training Program live-system.

To provide a complete cold food supply chain overview, Lanier Tech included a farm experience for the Uzbekistan team. An in-depth tour of Jaemor Farms was generously conducted by Judah and Drew Echols. The uniqueness of Jaemor Farms, with its locally grown, harvested, stored, and retail sold business model, made a perfect venue for the foreign counterparts. Drew Echols spent almost three hours explaining the retail operations, storage and packaging, and touring Jaemor's fields and orchards. Members of the tour had many questions for Drew, and he openly and patiently answered all questions while the Uzbeks contributed their own experiences to the wider discussion. While all parts of the tour were informative, the Uzbekistan group found the discussions in the fields and orchards to be very beneficial, immediately relevant and applicable to farm operations on their home farms.

Drew Echols answers questions about fertilizer and crop yield.

Drew answered many questions related to fertilizing techniques and blends, irrigation, pest control, maximizing yield, increasing fruit size, and pruning for next year's harvest.  Through their interpreter, the group repeatedly said that they learned a lot of valuable information that would benefit them from Drew Echols.

Drew Echols compares retailing techniques with his Uzbek counterparts.

Drew Echols felt a bond with his new Uzbek friends, "I could spend all day talking with these guys; they are farmers, just like me and my family."

The Uzbek group also toured RefrigiWear in Dahlonega, a leading manufacturer of insulated clothing and packaging material widely used in the cold food storage industry.

After the agricultural field trips, the Uzbek team returned to the Oakwood Campus to meet with Dr. Ray Perren, President of Lanier Technical College and tour the College’s live system Ammonia Refrigeration Training operation. Dr. Perren explained the Technical College System of Georgia and the important workforce development and higher education role that Lanier Tech plays to its seven county service area.

In a discussion session with Dr. Perren, the Uzbek explained that the total number of annual graduates and the 98% job placement rate of the College impressed them.

Through their interpreter, the group also told Dr. Perren that they were impressed with the fact the every College program has an advisory committee comprised of business professionals who ensure that Lanier Tech is training the most current and relevant industry skills sets needed.

Dr. Perren shows-off the cremonial tea-cup with the College's new friends.

Lanier Tech’s new Uzbek friends presented Dr. Perren with a traditional Uzbek ceremonial, hand-made hot tea cup.  Although most Uzbeks do not drink coffee, they all agreed that Dr. Perren’s gift of Lanier Tech hot beverage mugs was perfect for hot tea.

While in the U.S. the Uzbek team attended the 2013 IARW Conference and Expo where a member of the extended Uzbek delegation made a presentation to this international conference on advances and practices in cold storage in Uzbekistan. They also toured cold storage facilities and other food warehouses in Florida, and toured other farms located in Florida and south Georgia. Their two week visit ended with visits to the Atlanta Farmers Market and to trip to Lenox Mall.

For more information about Lanier Technical College, the Economic Development Department, or the Georgia Ammonia Training Program, please visit the college’s website at or call Lanier Technical College at 770-533-7000.

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