EPN Hero: Dov Pasternak Pt. 2

Friday, February 13, 2015

When we left off, we introduced our first EPN Hero, Dov Pasternak. Dov is an agricultural scientist and father of our Farmers of the Future program. In Part 1 we shared stories from the first 30 years of his career, including years developing and introducing drip irrigation around the globe and creating the African Market Garden, a system combining small-scale irrigation with fruit and vegetable varieties customized to the local soil and climate of the Sahel. In this post we’ll share more of Dov’s work to transform lives through agriculture, including his work with the Farmers of the Future program.

Here's a perfect example. Women of the Sahel (the region south of the Sahara desert that gets just enough rainfall to support agriculture) legally can only own “degraded land." Degraded land is so hard and barren that virtually nothing will grow. So Dov developed a range of techniques called the Bioreclamation of Degraded Land, or BDL for short, to enable women to grow hardy, traditional vegetables even in degraded soil (Bioreclamation of Degraded Lands). Today, around 50,000 women in 500 villages in Niger and Senegal use BDL techniques. The Many Fruits of Dov's Labor.

 Over the years Dov has introduced many new varieties of fruits and vegetables. He’s even named one! The Pomme du Sahel is a fruit Dov named and introduced to the Sahel region. The fruit is hugely popular in Niger and expanding to new markets quickly. It's such a good story it's worth it's own upcoming post.

Then there's Moringa. Moringa is a perennial vegetable with remarkable properties. The tree-like plant produces highly nutritious leaves that can be harvested up to 10 times per year and used in a variety of applications from food recipes to health and beauty aid products. Dov spent years researching optimal varieties and introduced a new variant of Moringa that has become wildly popular. Tens of thousands of farmers are growing it commercially and millions are eating it. Moringa is more than just a tasty, versatile vegetable. It's being hailed by many as the most nutritious food on the planet. Another great story we will share in an upcoming post.

During our conversation, I asked Dov what was the most eye-opening project he’s worked on. He said without hesitation: Farmers of the Future. He explained, “my first experiment with the program was at the Sadoré village. I introduced this village to BDL , Moringa production, and most importantly, fruit tree nurseries. This village has been fully independent over the last six years, with each woman earning $6,000 per year – 12 times the national average income in Niger."

And that’s worth repeating: The women of Sadoré village, through the Farmers of the Future program, are making 12 times the average income in Niger! You can watch Sadoré's remarkable transformation in this YouTube video.

Future Opportunity - The Eliminate Poverty NOW team and Dov are convinced that the Farmers of the Future program can enable subsistence farmers in Niger and elsewhere escape the bonds of persistent poverty. If the women of the Sadoré village are any indication, this program could transform the lives of countless farmers in other villages across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Dov, through the Farmers of the Future project, could be on the verge of leading hundreds of thousands of families out of extreme poverty. New possibilities are blooming in the desert and Dov is a big reason why. Now that’s heroic.

Dov has captured 40 years of experience and valuable lessons learned in his new book, Agricultural Prosperity in Dry Africa. It's a must read for anyone seriously interested in agricultural development in Africa. Download it for free using this link.

Did Dov’s story inspire you to action? How so? If you’ve heard of other cool stories about heroes using science to eliminate poverty in Africa, share in the comments section below!

And for some additional information, check out these links: