Thursday, September 14, 2017

Intercropping in China

Farming on the steep hills of China can be a challenge and soil erosion is a huge concern. This week we take a closer look at some research to protect the soil while increasing profits at the same time in China. We encourage you to look at the linked article and utilize the discussion points below to guide the conversations in your classrooms and communities around the globe.

Helping Chinese Farmers Tackle Erosion

Discussion Points

  • Imagine someone approaches you on the street and has no idea what intercropping is. Explain it to them in a couple sentences.
  • What benefits where found utilizing intercropping in China? 
  • Of all the benefits listed which do you feel was the most important and why?
  • Soil erosion continues to be an issue in China and around the world. What are additional ways that erosion can be reduced in China and globally? Explain how/why your recommendations would be successful.
**Ag Educators: Take the last point a step farther and have students create a plan to reduce erosion in China and present to the class.

Friday, September 8, 2017

World Cereal Production and the Food Price Index

World cereal production is on pace for an all time high. This is one factor that impacts the Food Price Index put out by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Below we have linked two items. The first is an article regarding a summary of the recent Food Price Index and production trends around the globe. The second link is the latest Food Price Index report from the FAO. We encourage you to look over both links and utilize the discussion points below to guide your conversations in your classrooms, coffee shops, and communities around the world!

Global Cereal Output Heads for New Record

Food Price Index

Discussion Points

  • What is the FAO Food Price Index?
  • What is the trend with cereal production around the world? Are their trends within certain regions of the world that are different than others?
  • Looking at the Food Price Index what trends have you noticed over the past years? What may be causing these fluctuations? 
  • Some Food Price Indexes have decreased while other areas have increased or held stable? What are the reasonings for this?
  • What specific area increase or decrease in the Food Price Index surprises you the most and why?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Drought and Agriculture

There are many weather events that can impact agriculture. The linked video below takes a closer look at droughts and their impacts on agriculture. We encourage you to watch the linked video and utilize the discussion points below to guide conversations in your classrooms and communities.

Drought in Agriculture

Discussion Points

  • Which fact shared in the video did you find most interesting and why?
  • Why is a proactive response to droughts in agriculture so important?
  • Explain the solutions shared in the video to combat drought?
  • What is the key to success in combating droughts in agriculture in your opinion? Explain your reasoning.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

South African Beef Potential

A new school year is upon us and with that comes our weekly blog posts with discussion points! We kick this school year off with a closer look at beef production and agriculture in South Africa. This article has many great resources besides the text including an interactive "Global Food Security Index" map and several videos. We encourage you to check out all and utilize the discussion points below to guide conversations in your classrooms, coffee shops, and communities.

Beefing Up Africa's Food Security

Discussion Points

  • How does South Africa rate in regards to food security when compared to other African countries and countries around the world?
  • Explore the "Global Food Security Index" map. What did you notice or what surprised you and explain?
  • What is the story of Beef in South Africa? Where are they? What is the potential?
  • Watch the video "A Visit with Brylyne Chitsunge." What are Brylyne's thoughts on keys to food security success in South Africa?
  • After watching the video on South African feedlots what did you find most interesting and why?
  • Of the three takeaways at the end of the article which did you find most interesting and why?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Perfect Saturday in Kosovo

We had a wonderful Saturday for our last full day in Kosovo! The delegation started the day off with exploring the city of Pristina. We ventured down and checked out the soccer stadium that is under renovation for the National Team of Kosovo. After we explored for a bit we loaded the military bus to travel to the municipality of Istog. We had a nice discussion with the Mayor and it was evident, as it was most of the week that, agriculture played a big role in their community. This is the same community that we visited the day before when we toured Agroproduct. The Major of Istog invited a local farmer to join the discussion as well.

After our meeting we returned to Trofta to tour their trout farm. There is a natural spring that fills roughly 600 gallons per second. After the tour we were able to enjoy some of the delicious trout from their menu. Following lunch we had the amazing opportunity to travel to Consul General Xhavit Gashi's home. This is where he was born right at home, to making many memories with his seven siblings, and taught many life lessons from his father. General Gashi's mother and family still live there today.

The Gashi family are a great group of people who were warm and welcoming. It was great to join them in the yard and learn more about their family and the struggles of the past because of the war. As General Gashi told stories from the war our hearts ached as we imagined what life was like in Kosovo 20 years ago. It was hard to hear what had happened to the people of this small country, but the stories helped us better understand the sufferings. At this point in time the people from Iowa and Kosovo became more thean a delegation, we became a family. We were touched dearly by this. Thanks to General Gashi for opening up to us about hard times.

Wrapping up our time in Kosovo we joined the Ministry of Agriculture team to visit cultural sites and enjoy dinner together. We saw many amazing artifacts, learned more about the history of Kosovo, and different areas of the cultures. As we prepared to wrap up the evening we received a call from the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He had just returned to town and wanted to meet us. We joined him for a brief meeting before returning to our hotel to pack our bags and get things in order for our departure Sunday morning.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Kosovo Agriculture on the Rise

Today we traveled to different regions than we have been to previously. We started the day by traveling to the Peja region where we visited Agroproduct and apple orchards. Agroproduct dries various herbs, berries, leaves, flowers, etc. They have a unique drying facility allowing them to produce over 160 different quality products. They export 90% of their products, with Germany being a main buyer. Seventy percent of their products are gathered from the wild, leaving thirty percent cultivated.

Next we traveled to an apple orchard where we met 12 farmers and the head of their association. This group of farmers have 130 hectares of land in apple production. Unfortunately, this year they have lost their entire crop due to a late frost. Most of the apples stay in Kosovo with approximately 65% sold fresh at markets and 35% processed into further products.

We enjoyed lunch at a beautiful restaurant, which specializes in fish. As usual, we did not go hungry. Following lunch we traveled to the municipality of Rahovec. We had a nice visit with the mayor, who is a former Minster of Agriculture for Kosovo. He explained agriculture in the region and the opportunities in front of them. This area is known for it's vineyards and wineries. After a great conversation we visited the Bodrumi i Vjeter Winery. They gave us a short history of their winery and then gave us a tour. They shared that the skin of grapes give wine their color and the seeds provide the flavor. With red wines they leave the seeds in during fermentation, but with white wines the seeds are removed for fermentation.

From the winery we made our way to a beautiful vineyard. We were able to discuss production practices and inspect the soil closer. We concluded the evening with a social at Soma. As some prepare to head home or other directions this gave us a chance to reflect on our time in Kosovo. We have one more day in Kosovo with some site seeing and a farewell event with the Ministry of Agriculture. It was evident today and throughout the week that agriculture in Kosovo is on the rise. There are great things to come and we are excited to be a part of it!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Presidential Praise: Kosovo and Iowa

It was another full day in Kosovo! We started the day off by visiting with the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci. There was great discussion around the success of the Iowa-Kosovo partnership and plans for the future. Once our meeting was completed with the president we traveled to an archaeological site. We were able to see roads, churches, tombs, etc. that were built by the Romans. We were also able to get a good look at the soil profile, wheat, and corn in the surrounding area.

We enjoyed another spectacular lunch outdoors at a country themed restaurant visiting with folks from USAID about agriculture projects in the northwest region of Kosovo. Following lunch we traveled to see the projects they were explaining to us. We visited a young farmer producing raspberries. He had grown his operation substantially over the last couple years and plans further expansion. Raspberries are much more profitable than the traditional corn and wheat crops grown in the region. After planting raspberries they will produce for 15 years. It just takes one year to receive your return on investment with raspberries in Kosovo. After our time in the field we traveled to a processing plant that is being built for the raspberries.

Next up was a visit with the University of Pristina College of Agriculture and Vetrenary Medicine. We had a great discussion on agriculture education for their 2,000 students. Public universities in Kosovo are funded 100% by the government.

To wrap up our day of touring and visits we traveled to PESTOVA which processes potatoes into a variety of products. We found their products delicious! They are working to increase production in order to continue increasing their exports.

We rounded out a spectacular day at a backyard BBQ that was fabulous. It included a wide range of food, live music, fireworks, and a birthday celebration for our great friend Consul General Xhavit Gashi!