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Agronomists Teach Agriculture Research Techniques in Ethiopia

Hans Kandel and Joel Ransom, North Dakota State University Extension agronomists and Department of Plant Sciences faculty, recently spent two weeks teaching and sharing their expertise with new farmers and faculty at two agriculture universities in Ethiopia.

October 18, 2019

Hans Kandel and Joel Ransom, North Dakota State University Extension agronomists and Department of Plant Sciences faculty, recently spent two weeks teaching and sharing their expertise with new farmers and faculty at two agriculture universities in Ethiopia.

Both agronomists were part of the Catholic Relief Services Farmer-to-Farmer (FTF) program, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

An article on Kandel’s and Ransom’s trips published by North Dakota State University Agriculture Communication is printed in its entirety below.

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Ethiopian farmers and university staff have a better understanding of crop production, thanks to two North Dakota State University Extension specialists.

NDSU Extension agronomists Hans Kandel and Joel Ransom traveled to Ethiopia for two weeks this fall to share their technical skills and expertise with local agricultural producers and staff at two universities.

“Ethiopian farmers are eager to obtain new knowledge about the essential principles of farming: for instance, the utilization of nitrogen-fixing bacteria, composting, proper plant distribution and new tools to weed the crops in a timely fashion,” Kandel says.

“There are several new universities in Ethiopia,” Ransom says. “However, the new faculty has limited experience doing agricultural research and statistical analysis. I was able to work closely with faculty on improving their skill level.”

The NDSU Extension agronomists were part of the Catholic Relief Services’ Farmer-to-Farmer (FTF) program that promotes economic growth, food security and agricultural development in East Africa.

Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the FTF program matches the technical assistance of U.S. farmers, agribusinesses, cooperatives and universities with farmers in developing countries to help those farmers improve agricultural productivity, access new markets and increase their incomes.

In Ethiopia, Kandel worked with the Wolkite University, training faculty and a group of farmers about grain crops production. Providing technical assistance to smallholder farmers will enable them to increase their food security.

The major production constraints these smallholder farmers face are poor land preparation, uneven distribution of the plants, a lack of suitable crop varieties, poor crop rotation systems, poor soil fertility management, ineffective traditional pest control practices, inadequate crop storage and little knowledge of farm planning. Producers also have relatively low levels of production technologies.

Farmers received training from Kandel on how to use manure and compost, and inoculate legumes with appropriate bacteria to increase dry bean production and quality.

Ransom worked with faculty from the Food and Climate Science College at Injibara University. This university is only three years old but provides education to more than 10,000 students.

“New faculty have a massive challenge of building relevant programs and improving curriculum to meet the needs of this large student population,” Ransom says.

His lectures and practical training focused on agricultural research techniques, data analysis and technical writing. Faculty at the university have a responsibility to conduct applied research and provide outreach to small-scale farmers near the university, so learning research skills was critical for the faculty to assist nearby farmers effectively with relevant technology that could improve their productivity, Ransom notes.

The Extension agronomists’ work was one of nearly 500 FTF program assignments that focus on agriculture, food security and nutrition in Ethiopia, Benin, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda.

Sources: Hans Kandel, 701-231-8135, hans.kandel@ndsu.edu; Joel Ransom, 701-213-7405, joel.ransom@ndsu.edu
Editor: Ellen Crawford, 701-231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu

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