NDSU Extension agronomist shares skills with Ethiopian farmers
North Dakota State University Extension Service agronomist Hans Kandel, traveled to Ethiopia for 2 1/2 weeks in July to share his technical skills and expertise with local farmers.
“Local farmers are hardworking but lack knowledge about some of the essential principles of farming, for instance the utilization of nitrogen-fixing bacteria, recycling of nutrients and proper plant distribution,” Kandel says.
He represented the NDSU Plant Sciences Department and NDSU Extension Service during his teaching assignment, which was part of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Farmer-to-Farmer (FTF) program that promotes economic growth, food security and agricultural development in East Africa. This is the first time CRS has been involved in the 28-year-old FTF program.
Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the FTF program matches the technical assistance of U.S. farmers, agribusinesses, cooperatives and universities to help farmers in developing countries improve agricultural productivity, access new markets and increase their incomes.
In Ethiopia, Kandel worked with the Hararghe Catholic Secretariat in grain crops production training, providing technical assistance to smallholder farmers to enable them to increase their food security.
The Hararghe region, a province in eastern Ethiopia, had a severe drought in 2015, which resulted in regional food shortages. The main staple crops grown by farmers are corn, sorghum and dry beans. Some of the poorer farmers still are receiving food aid (including from USAID) to bridge the period from planting until the upcoming harvest.
The major production constraints of these smallholder farmers are poor land preparation, uneven distribution of the plants, poor intercropping and crop rotation systems, as well as insufficient water conservation practices, lack of knowledge on plant water requirements, poor soil fertility management, ineffective traditional pest control practices and little knowledge in farm planning. Producers also have relatively low levels of production technologies.
Kandel was able to help up to 140 producers in seven villages. Farmers received training from Kandel on how to utilize manure and compost, and how to use legume inoculation with appropriate bacteria to increase dry bean production and quality.
Kandel also trained 15 agricultural development workers, who will follow up with the farmers who participated in the local training sessions.
Kandel’s work was one of nearly 500 assignments that focus on agriculture, food security and nutrition in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
The U.S. experts travel to East Africa for one to six weeks, their expenses covered by USAID.