Phillip Brasher, The Des Moines Register via USA TODAY
GUNCHIRE, Ethiopia (USA Today)—President Barack Obama is counting on an unusual mix of taxpayer dollars and investments from profit-hunting agribusiness giants such as DuPont to feed the globe’s growing population.
For the plan to work, small-scale Ethiopian farmers like Tekalgna Abebe will need to greatly increase their paltry yields of corn and other crops. That will be no small achievement in a country where farmers typically plow by hand or with oxen and still plant their crops by tossing the seed willy-nilly out on the ground instead of placing it in rows.
Abebe, 38, a participant in DuPont’s program, harvested about 4 tons of corn from just over an acre of land last year, four times what he produced the year before. The extra corn will help him pay for schooling for his four children, the oldest of whom is 8. “I am confident that my children will have a bright future,” he said through an interpreter.
His village of Gunchire has a long history of food shortages, and it is one of the places that DuPont’s Iowa-based seed business, DuPont Pioneer, and the U.S. Agency for International Development are testing a new approach to improve the production of corn among the millions of poor, small-scale farmers who dominate African agriculture.