From the Ground Up - Technology Needed for Poor Farmers

Farmers in the United States are able to employ the world’s best technologies to make them the most productive agricultural producers in the world. However, small farmers in poor countries are also in need of technologies that can help them be more successful. Pierre Ferrari is the CEO of Heifer Project International.

“What is the appropriate technology for farmers in the mountains of Nepal or the semi-desert areas of Registan? And there is a technology that’s appropriate, and we need to make the investments to find the right technologies for those farmers as opposed to the right technologies for soybean farmers in Brazil. An enormous amount of research has been done for the soy farmer in Brazil.”

Ferrari contends that very little has been done in the way of developing technologies for small farmers in poor countries.

“They need technology just as much. In fact, they need it more because they live in areas that are so fragile and so complicated. Soil conditions and climatic microclimate conditions change within the space of twenty miles in these places. The soil quality in Africa on the average is not good. How do we do it? What’s the technology to actually improve productivity out of these very poor soils?”

Craig Nessler is the director of Texas A&M Agrilife Research maintains that there are places in Texas that simulate climates of many locations around the world.

“What do we want to do? Do we want to help people feed themselves or do we want to send troops into an area where people are starving and fighting with one another? I submit that agriculture is a good method for world peace, and that’s why we work in various countries to help them to help themselves.”

Genetics will play a big role in solving these problems.

“What we’re planning on doing, for example with water use efficiency, that is to make plants more drought resistant, is to crosswalk. We intend to go from one crop to another crop to another crop, because the genes that are involved in water use are going to likely be similar in most of the plants.”