Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Challenge: Transportation

These are some of the 185 motorcycles that are sitting in storage at a state Agricultural Development Program (ADP) office. They were bought with the intention of being provided to the Extension Agents (EAs), but money that was to come down from the Governor to pay for them to be registered never made it to the ADP.

So there they sit. Unused. Since April.

The Extension Director was visibly saddened by this reality, one all too familiar in Nigeria. Currently, EAs get around on foot, and/or by using public transportation, if they have the money to pay for it.

From what I gathered during the two weeks of working with the EAs, if they had dependable transportation, they could get a lot more work done, and want to get more done.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Pictures from around Nigeria

Woman roasting ears of maize and goats eating the husks
The group of EA's in Kaduna

A bull at the training inLokoja.

A role play scenario action shot.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More Coming

We're working on getting photos selected and uploaded to the site. We also have some video footage we hope to post here. In the meantime...

Tying the bag at training in Makurdi:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Home by Maria Restrepo

We are finally back to the USA, what a trip home! Because of the rainy season, there was quit a bit of lighting and thunder before the plane could land in Kano to take us to Amsterdam, about an hour later they had landed and we had to wait a bit more for the rest of the storm to pass. This made us rush a bit in Amsterdam to get to our gate immediately. After the metal detector went off, and I was overly searched for some weapon (my watch) I forgot to take off, I was able to board the plane. Never mind that I had not slept most of the flight. I was pretty excited about getting home.
From Amsterdam to Detroit we had strong head winds which caused our flight to be not just 7 hours, but roughly 8 hours long. This flight was a bit rougher and my stomach was not handling any of the food/flying quite as nicely as it had the entire trip. Our last flight from Detroit to Indy was delayed just slightly, but we made it home safely!! It was so great to see friends and family again and share the many stories of Nigeria. I can't deny by the time I got home, food that I have graved, (steak, baked potato, milk, ice cream...) the entire time in Nigeria no longer felt like a good idea with my stomach being a bit upset. My stomach is having an adjusting time and I look forward to eating some good food soon.

I have truly in the past taken for granted all the little things (clean water, power, full pressure showers, food..etc) that we have at our disposal at all times. I absolutely walked away with an incredible experience, and so much knowledge of the culture, language and customs of Nigeria. Our fellow team member Onu, shared so much about his life and culture, it was invaluable. Having the opportunity to work with the Extension Agents there was a good challenge (to make me think more about how to approach examples and get the message across) We had the opportunity to speak with many about how their jobs work and what a typical day is like. Having the opportunity to teach them this technology will hopefully take off and be used solely. I hope that there will never be stories of anyone dying from eating cowpeas that were stored with chemicals again. It was a great experience and can't thank the team enough for the great trip. IITA truly was wonderful and a pleasure to work with.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hello from Kwara State

Wow! I can't believe we have been here for 11 days now. I am on a team with Maria Restrepo (from Purdue) and Onu Anyebe (from IITA - the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture - here in Nigeria.) We've completed 4 out of our 5 "Train the Trainier" sessions so far, and we have one more to go.

We traveled over 7 hours yesterday to go from Abuja to Ilorin (in Kwara State). The view along the route was great. As close to "jungle" as I've seen. Very hilly. It reminds me of the hills in Brown County, with the vegetation from Florida. Anyway, we arrived safely and got checked in to our hotel about 5 pm. Unfortunately, the power was off when we arrived. This hotel runs their generator from 5 pm to 9 am in case the power is off. And my room had an AC unit and at least cold running water, so I'm a happy camper.

Today we had the Kwara State training session, with 20 extension agents present. We finished in good time, at about 4 pm. So we have time to visit this cyber cafe before dark. Then tomorrow, we will take about a 4 hour trip to Lokoja in Kogi State for our last training session.

Along our trip yesterday we had to dodge a few goats and thousands of potholes. Twice we saw vehicles pass 3 abreast - and it was a 2 lane road. Needless to say it was an interesting trip. This state is a mix of Christian and Muslum so we see both mosques and churches. Since yesterday was Sunday, we saw a lot of families walking to and from churches.

I've been talking to my family pretty regularly via our cell phone. We bought a local phone (only $25) and we can add minutes as we go. We estimated it costs about 35 cents per minute to call home, so it is definitely worth it.

The people here have been polite and very friendly. I will miss that part the most.


Lokoja Next by Maria

We are off to Lokoja tomorrow for our final training on thursday. What a trip so far!! We actually have already driven through there, but we were on our way to Ilorin for our training today.
The trainings have gone very well and are a lot of fun especially with the role play scenarios!! Many are laughing so hard, they are practically off their seats!! The people in each state have been very appreciative and friendly to us. It has definitely eased some of the worries that I did have when I arrived.

The scenery has changed with each location from a flat, green landscape to hills and small mountains to forest. It is so beautiful. My pictures can't hardly capture all that we have seen. The weather has been raining, but have also had several nice days. Nothing very hot and the insects are not near as bad as they are at home this time of year. Which has been nice. We have seen more goats than mosquitos.

I have to tell you all the roads are very interesting here, between the passing multiple cars on a narrow road to dodging potholes. I know that I would never be a good driver and I think any driver in Nigeria would make an excellent Nascar driver. Onu our team member and driver has done such as wonderful job and have full faith that he will get us to each location safely. I have held my breathe a time or two as we have had a car heading right at us from time to time.

I really look forward to the last training Kossai and Moui Moui have been my favorite food here so far. I can't wait to share stories and pictures when I get back.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

North to Katsina - by Adrienne

Greetings from Kano!
My team has completed the trainings here in Kano, and today we are headed north to Katsina to start our workshops there. We had 93 extension agents partcipate in the trainings here in Kano. I agree with Jim completely, that the role play exercises are the most fun. While I don't understand the hausa language, I can tell you they have the most fun playing the "difficult" chief. I have some video and pictures I hope to upload to the blog once we are home.
I am also very much enjoying my trip to Nigeria. I have a great team for the workshops and we have fun working together. Everyone has been very welcoming and they are all excited about the PICS technology, as insecticide treated cowpea have caused many deaths, blindness, deafness, etc here in Nigeria.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit in on part of the business meeting with Lela, the manufacturer of the PICS bags here in Nigeria. It was a very interesting meeting and there appears to be the potential of a large market for the bags here in Nigeria as well as the other western african countries.
I'm excited about the trip to Katsina. This will be my first trip outside of Kano, and I am looking forward to seeing another part of the country.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Not Hot

We're in the thick of rainy season, meaning it's been raining a lot. Most of my days have been cloudy or overcast, with windows of sunshine, or perhaps a 20 minute or so sunblast--which is hot--throughout the day. Another way of looking at it, I've been quite comfy in cotton Carharts and a shirt.

I talked or texted with the Purdue team today. Everyone is in good spirits, a combination perhaps of getting into a groove here, enjoying the people we are working with, and, if I may, also knowing we're inside a week now before we return to our loved ones in Indiana.

Role-playing is my favorite part of the trainings, especially when we have them "act out" how they will approach the village chief to ask for permission to do a training/demonstration in the village. Nigerians love to laugh, and they really get going with this part of the training. My team leader, Damisa, always has at least one woman play the role of village chief. That is a hoot, and a very interesting thing to see, as women are not village chiefs in Nigeria. However, they surely know how chiefs act. When the extension agent comes into the village during role playing, the female chief actresses are quite tough! They ask difficult questions about the project and the bagging technology. The male agents laugh and roll along with it, but also they seem a bit nervous about how they will perform/how well their answers may be/what others may think.

Food: moi moi is one of my favorite dishes. It's cowpea that is ground into flour, more or less, and then water is added to thicken it into an airy dough of sorts, from what I understand. Add in some peppers, onions, spices, maybe a hard-boiled egg, or even some meat. Then you boil/steam it in a cup mold or plastic bag. In Jalingo the other day, I had the best moi moi ever! My Nigerian colleague agreed, saying it was delicious.

This is my 3rd time working in Nigeria, and I have to say it's been my most enjoyable. I have to chalk that up to our counterpart here in Nigeria--IITA, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture. What a great group of people!

It's Saturday evening, 5:46 p.m. I have a solid/fast inet connection. Doing fine...


Thursday, August 13, 2009

News from Kano - by Adrienne

Sanuku!! (Hausa for 'hello everyone')
I have finally found a fast enough internet connection to blog!! The internet here tends to be slow, or nonexistant!
I am the spoiled member of the Purdue team...I am spending a majority of my time in Kano. We have completed two workshops so far (about 1.5 days each). When we got here I wondered why we would need two days...well...the first day of the workshop is planned to start at 9am. The earliest we've started so far is 11:30 am. Dr. Musa (my team member) then has to give a long speech about the value of time and how we all need to be responsible and arrive on time, which he then reinforces again in hausa...just to make sure it is clear. We have started on time the second day (I don't think they want to hear the timeliness speech again!). The response to the PICS project has been very positive. The extension agents have a lot of questions and are excited about the new technology. Everyone here has been very gracious and friendly to me as I adjust to the cultural differences. One thing that I struggle with is the portion sizes!! Yesterday for lunch they brought me SIX potatoes and some chicken in a red spicy sauce. Seriously...six potatoes is too many! When I told them it was too much, they asked me if I was on a diet.... but the food, for the most part, has been very good.
I've learned a few words in Hausa (the local language) and the workshop participants get a big kick out of it when I try to speak in Hausa.
We've had a total of about 63 participants (7 women total) over the two workshops. We have one left here in Kano, and then I will travel north to Katsina on Sunday.
My other teammate, Suno, welcomed his first daughter last Saturday. This Saturday will be her naming celebration, as is the Muslim tradition.
Hopefully, I'll be able to check in again before I travel north!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ba Damu

Our driver says we've covered 1000 miles since Sunday. Tomorrow, we're off for Jalingo, another 7 hours in the truck.

Today's training in Jos brought out 60 participants!

BAH-dah-MWA. Let it all roll together as one word. It's Hausa for "no problem."

So far, so good, y'all!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Going Well

Greetings from Jos! It's pouring outside, as we are in the height of the rainy season here on the plateau.

Trainings are going well. In a nutshell, we use the Training Manual, which you can access on the PICS website, to train Extension Agents, as they are called here, who will then go out into their zones in the various states to educate villagers.

Jeremy is in the east, Bill and Maria are down south. Adrienne is up in Kano, and I am content in Jos after conducting trainings in Makurdi and Lafia. I'm not certain the number of kilometers we've covered, but on Sunday I was in the truck for 12 hours, and today for more than 5.

After Jos I go out towards Cameroon, stopping in Jalingo and Yola to carry out 2 more trainings.

My belly is filled with pounded yam and fish served in egusi stew--made from pounded melon seeds. I ate 6 hours ago, and yep...still full!

Nigerian sight: moonrise glistening off the Benue River as we crossed the bridge into Makurdi town. A pale yellow/white shining on a water ribbon of silver.



Tuesday, August 4, 2009

We Go!

Tomorrow afternoon, 5:15 to be exact, we fly out. It's never easy getting on the plane and leaving loved ones behind, they having their worries and concerns, and we having ours as we settle in our seats.

The other side of that is: excitement!

Two weeks in Africa's most populous country. The home of more than 240 ethnicities. Teamwork between cultures. Nigerian and Purdue Extension improving livelihoods. University research being applied on the ground. Learning new words and phrases. Tasting local food and drink. Mind expansion.

For me, being with Adrienne, Maria, Bill and Jeremy, and our Nigeria counterparts, with their wealth of experience, is an opportunity to learn and experience international extension in practice.

How can the extension educator from Indiana assist the extension educator in Nigeria? What might the team in Nigeria teach the Purdue team? How will what we do in Nigeria have importance in Indiana? What will Purdue Extension accomplish in Nigeria?

These questions can't be answered without going.

Tomorrow, we go!


Friday, July 31, 2009

The Bluffton News-Banner


Bill Horan’s about to get an education, even as he teaches others.

Horan is the educator for agriculture with the Purdue Extension office in Wells County. He will be going to Nigeria next month to teach members of that nation's agriculture ministry how to better store cowpeas.

That sounds rather mundane. It’s only when you realize what the crop — also called field beans in the United States — means to Africa's food supply that you realize how important the task is.

Horan and three other Purdue Extension educators will be making the trip Aug. 6-21. They'll arrive in Nigeria Aug. 6; Horan and two Africans with him will visit five states.

“Cowpeas are the major protein source for Nigeria, which is the most populous country in Africa,” he said. The issue is, they harvest the crop in the fall, and it gets infested by weevils. They can lose half of the harvest.”

Prices are lowest for the crop at the time of harvest. In the springtime, prices are much higher — as much as three times higher — but if the crop has not been stored properly, farmers can’t get those higher prices.

The Purdue team — Maria Restrepo of Pike County, Adrienne Held of Warrick County, Jeremy Weber of Franklin County, and Horan — will be participating at what is being billed as a “train the trainer” series of seminars. They’ll go to a location and work with members of the Nigerian agriculture ministry. They’ll teach them so they can teach farmers how to save their crops.

The solution is referred to as Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS). According to an explanation on the Purdue Web site, PICS consists of a series of hermetically sealed bags; weevils become inactive in the bags, unable to feed or reproduce. In a nation where most people live on less than $2 a day, the bags estimated to provide a farmer an additional $150 a year in income.

“What was needed was a long-range plan that was economically viable and environmentally friendly,” Horan said in a recent interview. “People can adapt to this technology.”

The trip is being put together by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture. Each of the Purdue Extension educators will be on a team; a representative of IITA, Onu Anyebe, and a representative of the Nigerian agriculture ministry, Mrs. R. H. Adedayo, will form a team with Horan. Their team will visit five states in western and northern Nigeria.

Horan got linked up to the group when he answered a posting asking for volunteers. Horan is a veteran of
the Peace Corps and was willing to go overseas again. He’s looking forward to the adventure.

“Every time you go through an experience like this, it gives you a perspective of how we fit into the world,” he said.

(The News-Banner, July 9, 2009, pp. 1-2)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Time is up! - Adrienne Held

I can't really add anything that my other travel companions haven't already mentioned. I've had my suitcase on the floor at home for a week or so now, adding to it as I check things off my list. Here's hoping I don't forget anything important!
The summer has gone by so quickly, but at the same time, it feels like I've been anticipating this trip for much longer than 3 months. Like everyone else, I am excited and ready to board the plane, but I also have some anxiety that stems from the fear of the unknown. Only one way to cure that fear! I also wonder who is going to do all the work for me while I'm gone?! Even worse, how will I ever get caught up once I get back?! But it's not like I'm ever caught up when I'm here anyway- so let's go! :)

Time to pack!

It's crunch time now. I've made a list of all the items I think I'll need to purchase / pack for the trip, and I'm getting really excited. Soon, we'll be off to Nigeria!

We'll be landing in Kano in one week (Aug. 6th). After a few days of orientation and meeting our training partners / team members, we'll all venture out to the seperate training sites. I'll be traveling with two Nigerian teammates to the west-central states of Kaduna, Niger, Kwara and Kogi. The last site is about 300 miles south of Kano, so I will get to see a lot of the country as I go from one site to the next, and then we'll rendez-vous with the Purdue team members back at Kano before we head home on the 20th.

Our local newspaper, The Bluffton News-Banner, did a nice article about the trip already, and I have a slide presentation for Area XI staff scheduled in September. I looking forward to sharing my pictures and stories with everyone once we are back home.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

7 days to go!- Maria Restrepo

I can't hardly write my mind has so many thoughts and excitement about this trip that is approaching so quickly. I know that I am truly grateful to have this opportunity with Purdue Extension. I have written two brief articles in my monthly newsletter about the upcoming trip and had my first pre trip interview with the paper this week. I already have a couple post trip speaking engagements. I look forward to them and excited to share my experience.
I have spent time gathering travel supplies, sewing skirts and reading up on the training manual. I plan to go in with an open mind and grasp as much as I am able with the culture and history on this trip.
I really look forward to entire opportunity that we will have in Nigeria and the experience will be nothing that I have ever had before.
So the next few days I will be making those lists, checking them several times and stuffing the suitcase with essentials!! Then I will be READY TO GO!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Still Waiting - Jeremy Weber

It seems like I've been ready for this trip since I heard about it. In reality, I just need some DEET, a watch (or other travel friendly time-telling device), and to pack. It'll be nice to be out of this holding pattern.

I had a short radio interview this morning. I've got one more pre-trip interview scheduled and a couple of post-trip interviews, including a radio follow-up, and I'm supposed to give a presentation at an Extension Area VII meeting after we return. I'm not one who relishes such attention, but I'm not going to complain about it, either.

This morning I had a bowl of Honey Nut Clusters, some cantaloupe, a Zone bar, and tea. I can't wait to see how breakfast in Nigeria compares.

Can we leave tomorrow?

Some Photos

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Where We'll Be

If you click on the map, it will upload larger, making it easier to view. We'll be in different locations after spending the first weekend in Kano. Here's where we'll be:

Adrienne--Kano and surrouding villages, and then up to Katsina.
Jeremy--east to Maiduguri, Biu and Damaturu.
Jim--southeast to Lafia, Yola, Jalingo and Jos.
Bill--south to Kaduna, Suleija and Lokoja.
Maria--west to Birnin Kebbi, Sokoto and Gusau.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Anticipation and Preparation - Jeremy Weber

My sister-in-law recently asked me what I expected this trip to be like. I gave her the same answer that I would give anybody in reference to any trip I ever take; I try to research enough to try to get an idea of what the place will be like in terms of weather and culture. However, I've learned that no matter how much research you do it will always be different from what you expect, so I try to go into it with a blank slate. I keep my mind as open as possible to get the fullest experience possible. I don't want preconceived filters in the way. I also told her that I expect nothing less than a life-changing experience--and nothing more.

I've also been remembering the time that I've spent in Europe, where there is evidence of the depth of history just about wherever you look. As open as I want to be for this trip to Africa, where I've always dreamed of going, I am also trying to prepare myself to not be overwhelmed by the immensity of the cultural, spiritual, and natural history.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to go to Africa and do what I got into Extension for in the first place. And I would encourage anyone and everyone to participate in an international program like this.

"The World Awaits" by John Harlin (Backpacker Contributing Editor) Feb. 1, 1998

"Here be dragons" read the ancient maps wherever a blank corner seemed big enough to hold the fabled creatures. And for most of us, the dragons still roar. Sure, we know all about the incredible shrinking world. We know that there are only 6 degrees of separation between a Tibetan yak herder and Kevin Bacon, that the one can call the other on a cell phone. We read National Geographic monthly, Time weekly, and watch the world news nightly. Sitting there in the living room with a glass of wine in hand, we feel we know the world-until we actually consider packing the bags and hiking from Zanskar to Ladakh. Then butterflies flutter in our stomachs and dragons roar in our brains. Yes, the world is bigger than our favorite section of the Appalachian Trail. When we strike off for lands that we've never seen, things take us by surprise. But that's the way it should be because those surprises breed a fascination that lasts a lifetime.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nigerians Living in Indiana

Here are some interesting numbers from the year 2000 Census conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau:

There were 1528 Nigerians living in Indiana.

Median age: 24 years.

Average family size: 4.

559 of those 25 years old or over (total: 748) held a Bachelor's degree or higher.

888 were in the labor force (16 years and over).

Per capita income in 1999 (dollars): 37,195.

Individuals below poverty level: 187.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Opening the Bags

Click on the link to view a short film showing an "Open-the-Bag" ceremony in Niger.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gearing up for Nigeria - Adrienne Held

Why do I want to go to Africa? It's a question that my family and friends have been asking me since I announced that I had been chosen as part of the Purdue Extension PICS team to travel to Nigeria this summer. My answer- "Why not?". How often do we, as Extension Educators, get the opportunity to travel the world as part of our jobs? Not very often! Africa has always been a place that has intrigued me, but I never thought I'd have the opportunity to travel there, so when the opportunity presented itself, I made sure I applied. Going through the process of being a human pin cushion at the health center and the time away from my family and work will be a small price to pay for what is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was also worried about how I would handle the heat of Africa, but Mother Nature has been helping with that portion of the training here in recent weeks!
Like Bill, I've also been preparing for the trip. I also know that no matter what I read before I go, I won't really know what to expect until the plane lands in Kano.
I'm looking forward to the trip to Nigeria (only six short, fair filled weeks to go!) and sharing my experiences before, during, and after the trip!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A few thoughts from Bill Horan

I must say that I am VERY excited to be joining this PICS team and heading off to Nigeria in 44 days. We've already had our first set of vaccinations (4 or 5?) and we're due for a another day of pincushion-practice in July (second Hepatitus booster, and then the big Tetanus - OUCH!) So far the shots really haven't bothered me much.

To help me prepare for the trip, I've been busy trying to find as much info as I can about Nigeria: the history, culture, politics, and weather. Even though I spent time in Africa before, (Peace Corps - Tunisia - in the 1980's) the area south of the Sahara desert is a LOT different than North Africa. So I have a lot to learn in the coming month and a half.

Bill -

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

From West Lafayette to Northern Nigeria

Greetings to everyone at Purdue Extension, International Programs in Agriculture (IPIA), and to all of the friends and family of Extension, IPIA and Purdue University.

We've set up this little corner of the world wide web in an effort to have a meeting place for those interested in following along with the upcoming "Train-the-Trainer" program set for August 6-20 in northern Nigeria. Watch for posts before, during and after our time in Nigeria, as we plan to share our thoughts, emotions, pictures with you as the journey unfolds.

On behalf of Adrienne, Maria, Bill and Jeremy, we look forward to this wonderful opportunity to work alongside our fellow extensionists in Nigeria, and to represent Purdue University in West Africa.

To learn more about PICS, we encourage you to click on the Purdue PICS link located in the column to the right.