Gila Valley Rotary Teaches Africans Sustainable Agriculture

Via eacourier.com

Researchers and scientists from eight African nations visited the University of Arizona Safford Agricultural Center last week as part of a six-day tour of Arizona. Ag Center Director Randy Norton outlined the farm’s operations for his international guests. Their itinerary also included stops at Glenbar Gin and Sun Pumps. Arranged through the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program, the tour’s theme was “Our Planet: Sustainable Agriculture and the Environment.”

The Gila Valley Rotary club recently hosted a discussion focusing on sustainable agriculture and the environment, with special guests from Africa.

The discussion and potluck dinner took place at Roper Lake State Park and was followed the next day by a tour of agricultural sites in the Gila Valley, including the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension experimental farm.

Members of an agriculture group visiting from Africa are greeted by guests at the potluck dinner Sunday night at Roper Lake State Park.

A group of eight members from different countries in Africa came to the United States to seek helpful tips and policies to be taken back to their home countries.

Participating were: Oula Damien Ouattare, forecast analysis group head for the Office of Sustainable Agriculture Policy for the Burkina Faso Ministry of Agriculture; Rassei Neldjibaye, information and communications officer for the National Locust Control Agency of Chad’s Ministry of Agriculture; Dr. Kafumbata, lecturer in biology for Chancellor College at the University of Malawi; Elimane Abou Ibrahima Kane, manager of the social and economic studies laboratory for the Mauritanian Ocean and Fisheries Research Institute’s Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Economy; Jonah Dogo Barde, chief environmental scientist for the Nigerian Federal Ministry of the Environment; Amanda Gcanga, researcher for the Water Institute of Stellenbosch University in South Africa; Gerald Nkusi, executive director of the Uganda Adventure Learning and Community Development Initiative; and Mulundu Mwila, senior agricultural research officer for the Africa RISING Project of the Zambia Agricultural Research Institute.

Researchers and scientists from eight African nations visited the University of Arizona Safford Agricultural Center last week as part of a six-day tour of Arizona. Ag Center Director Randy Norton outlined the farm’s operations for his international guests. Their itinerary also included stops at Glenbar Gin and Sun Pumps. Arranged through the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program, the tour’s theme was “Our Planet: Sustainable Agriculture and the Environment.”

The African nations represented have had difficulty sustaining crops due to massive drought, which brought the group to Arizona to seek solutions, as the Gila Valley is mired in a nearly 20-year drought.

In order to learn more about the agricultural practices in Graham County, the group visited the Glenbar Gin in Pima, the Cooperative Extension building of the University of Arizona in Safford and Sun Pumps.

At the gin, the group met with Clint Colvin and Jay Larson, who discussed drip irrigation.

On their visit to the Cooperative Extension building of the University of Arizona, the group met with Randy Norton, director of the farm. The agricultural center has been a performance testing site for a long staple cotton breeding program for more than 30 years. Other crops under study include: short staple cotton, durum and winter wheat, barley, triticale, alfalfa, vegetables, fruit trees, pecans and pistachios.

On the visit to Sun Pumps, the visiting African experts were met by Cort Clonts and JT Lines, who discussed solar panels and irrigation systems for livestock and plants.

However, one issue the Africans are facing couldn’t be examined locally.

“We are running out of fish in our waters; we need the fish to feed our families,” Kane said.

The problem is fishermen are overfishing to sell to local fisheries for a profit.

The group expressed enthusiasm about the topics covered and hope to implement some of the Gila Valley’s farming practices upon their return.

 

 

 

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