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.