Thursday, August 20, 2009

Visit to Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research

This morning, Teddy picked us up to head to Holeta, and we picked up Worknesh on our way. We went to the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research (EIAR) at their Holeta Research Center. Seyoum Bedlye, the director of the facility, arranged a special meeting for us and representatives of a Brazilian company that are here in Addis. BrazAfric specializes in importing farm equipment and machinery so they will be a good resource for us.

Seyoum gave a couple of presentations about the research that is being done and their vision for the future. He shared some very good information for our projects. I was very interested to hear his presentation and learn more about Ethiopia and agriculture production here. What I have seen in the dairy industry in general is that they could benefit from using newer & more efficient techniques and equipment. When he finished his second presentation, Seyoum announced a coffee break which would be followed by presentations from the Brazilian company and from us. I was caught by surprise. I had just realized that they were planning on us doing a presentation! So, while everyone else went for coffee or hot milk, I threw together a quick PowerPoint presentation of what we were doing. Fortunately, I had taken a lot of pictures and had my laptop with me. I thought that it went well, considering the time that I had to prepare. Worknesh leaned over and said that I had done a very good job and had covered all of the main points of our company. I am sure that I had some help from above.

After the presentations, we toured the facility. They are using Boran and Holstein animals to get a crossbred animal to milk. For Ethiopian standards, they get very good production from their cows, up to 33 liters (70 lbs) a day. It appears that the farmers prefer the benefits of crossbreeds rather than using straight Holstein cows. From what I have seen, under poor to moderate conditions, this crossbreed may be the best choice, but I would like to see how Holsteins would do here if given ideal feeding and care. I will have to research this further.

The animals at this facility are in very good condition that the typical animals I have seen in Ethiopia, because they feed them much better. Their staff would love for us to use some of their cows as embryo recipients in exchange for training. We will have to work out the details to see if it will work. It would be nice to have good calves from these embryos and I would love to spend time training them. I will have to consider this further when I work on our project timeline back home.

This afternoon we met with Dr. Amsalu, the crop research director for Oromia. It was great to see him again. I gave him the Book of Mormon that I had prepared with our family picture in it. He invited us for coffee so we went and had fruit drinks together. I really enjoy sprise, a combination of all the fruits in one glass. He reported that some of the seed that he received from us was planted in a very arid area of the region and did reasonably well (17 Q/ha) considering the weather conditions. He has also been to see some irrigation projects that are going on now. He is one one the men who came out to Utah to tour facilities there. He has been great to work with and shares our passion and vision for this country.

This evening, Abera and I mapped out the work on the Kokosa property. We have traveled about 3200km (1900miles) this last month, and about half of that has been on rough roads. Abera is looking forward to getting back to work in Kokosa. We have a long way to go to get where we want to be,but we are excited about the journey.

It was hard to say goodbye to Teddy. He has been my driver, my guide, and my friend for the last month. I gave him my last Book of Mormon and I consider his companionship to be another one of those “tender mercies” from the Lord.

I am going to have to work and plan very carefully to balance this responsibility and my responsibility to my family. I know that the Lord wants me to be involved with this project, and that he also wants me to be an effective father and supportive husband. Somehow He will help me to accomplish this task that He has laid before me. I just have to stay humble and rely upon Him for guidance and direction.

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