Growing relationships: Professors work to help African farmers

25Aug 2021
The Guardian
Growing relationships: Professors work to help African farmers

​​​​​​​PROFESSORS of the University of Georgia's Tifton campus and their team have recently returned from their latest trip to Nigeria, the latest in their contribution to a nationwide project to help Nigerian farmers develop a joint agriculture-aquaculture farming plan that would-

-diversify their output.

Supported by a $100 million grant, UGA professors Dr. Gary Burtle, Department of Animal and Dairy Science, and Dr. Esendugue Greg Fonash, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, have routinely made trips to Nigeria during the past two years.

They travel with a carefully picked team of fellow professors and graduate students to develop a system the Nigerian farmers can adapt and use.

The planned program will introduce raising fish to Nigerian rice farms, which will provide a variety of benefits in return, including diversification of industries, increase ease of access for fish, improve nutritional status and provide employment opportunities.

However, the professors said the project hinges on the farmers being able to adapt to the new system and profiting from it more than they would the old system.

Fonsah's main mission is ensuring the latter is in favor of the new system.

"What we'll be looking at is profitability analysis, are they going to be able to make more money with this technology than they used to, or not?" Fonsah said. "If the answer is yes, then we're in business, because we'll show them how to make it. It's better than what they were making before, and that will trigger a love for the new technology and will possibly trigger the acceptance and adoption of the technology."

Burtle is helping the catfish farmers find an alternative for their feed, as their only option at the moment is to import it, which is becoming too expensive. Finding a suitable alternative that's local and easily accessible would take this obstacle off the board entirely.

The entire team is working to help train these farmers in the new farming style, with estimates listing that at least 200 farmers in the Nigerian states of Kebbi and Ebonyi will be trained in this process.

Now in its second year, the project is expected to wrap things up at the end of the third year; however, there are some plans to extend the project time further to reach more farmers in need