Pursuing the “impossible” idea to grow crops in a climate where none have thrived before, in order to help end famine and provide food security in a poor country.
A wealthy person in a third world country is one that can afford three meals a day. Many people in Ethiopia are not that fortunate.
While Ethiopian soil creates a fertile growing environment, much of the land’s potential is untapped. The ground is overgrazed and the land has been deforested to a large extent. Traditionally, Ethiopian crops are only grown in the rainy seasons. The rest of the year, the land is idle as sustenance crop production halts. Some regions of the country are too arid to successfully produce even one crop. With drought-resistant varieties, the potential for agricultural growth in the country is substantial and good yields could be produced.
Morrell Agro Industries, PLC (MAI) was formed in 2008 by Paul Morrell. Morrell wanted to find a way to help improve agricultural productivity and to provide famine relief in Ethiopia. American MAI employees travel to Ethiopia throughout the year to lend their expertise while working to improve the future.
MAI is introducing dry farming and drought-resistant crops to Ethiopia. These crops primarily include wheat, barley, and safflower. Seeds have been developed in arid regions of the US over the last century that are adapt at growing in dry climates and capturing residual moisture from the soil, rather than relying on rain or irrigation. If dry farming could be established in Ethiopia, food and grain yields could more than double. 10,000 hectares of land have been made available for MAI to establish a seed farm. This land is being planted with imported drought-resistant seed, which will be for sale and distribution in the country upon harvest.
MAI has also been working with the Ethiopian people to grow personal vegetable gardens and improve irrigation. Employees from the US are developing an orchard and an American-style dairy in the country. Cattle herds are being improved by artificial insemination and embryo transfer.