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NDSU Extension agronomists share skills in Ethiopia

Ethiopian farmers and university staff have a better understanding of crop production, thanks to two NDSU 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 said.

"There are several new universities in Ethiopia," Ransom said. "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 agronomists were part of the Catholic Relief Services' Farmer-to-Farmer program that promotes economic growth, food security and agricultural development in East Africa.

Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the 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.

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. The 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 said.

His lectures and practical training focused on agricultural research techniques, data analysis and technical writing.

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.

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