2012 Annual Report

Programs and Projects Accomplished in 2012

Turkmenistan Value Chain Analysis

The educational program in Turkmenistan was carried-out with the Desert Institute, Flora and Fauna. The focus was the development of a journal article which has been published in the Journal of Arid Lands, 2013 January issue with the title, “Value Chain Analysis for Evaluating Saline Irrigation Drainage Water Reuse for Livestock Feed Production in Turkmenistan.” The program was designed to instruct the senior staff of the Institution how to do economics of evaluating the potential for a new crop for the sheep and other livestock industries. We did the technology and used value chain analysis to investigate the kinds of government programs that could make for better use of the residual saline water from irrigation.

Norman E. Borlaug Scientific Exchange Program

We hosted the latest group of Borlaug Fellows from China in June of 2012. Two fellows were with us for six weeks to learn about biotechnology regulations in the US. We toured the GIPSA lab, private sector shippers and the Rice Research Institute in New Orleans and vicinity for one week; reviewed university input in the regulatory decisions at Iowa State University for one week; and spent the balance of their time in Washington, DC learning from USDA, FDA and USEPA and other federal agencies about the US regulatory process. The fellows were Dr. Zhixing Wang, Group Chief of Crop Genetic Engineering, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science, Ministry of Agriculture, and Mr. Lian Qing, Agronomist, Development Center for Science and Technology, Ministry of Agriculture, both with major responsibility for imports of genetically modified crops in China.

John Deere Data Analysis

Five universities (Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State, Nebraska and Guelph) contracted with NCFAP to investigate the possibilities of better utilizing the sensing data gained by the use of John Deere and related machinery manufacturers that are now standard on modern farm equipment. One of the problems with the potential use of this rich data set is that the data are owned by the farmers. The contract now is with a Family Farms Group that manages about 500,000 acres of farm land in the USA and Canada. The idea is to use these data to develop management tools that can improve the management of the farms and farmers. Meetings are being held with input suppliers to design a system that can process this data into a form that can be used for variable applications of seed, fertilizer and other materials, as well as to provide better information for farm decisions on market of their crops.

Kazakhstan Book and Instructional Assignment

We completed a book “Extension in Kazakhstan and the Experience of the USA: Lessons from a Working National Model” which was published in August of 2012. It is in English and Russian, and has been introduced in Kazakhstan during October of 2012. The book is co-authored by Rector Yespolov and others from the Kazakh National Agrarian University. The presentation of the book was to an audience of over 150 researchers, government workers and leaders from Kazakhstan, and was very well received. The idea of the book was to suggest how the best from government, universities and NGOs could be marshaled to support the new extension program in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan now has only a government operated extension program that focuses mainly on technology for large farms, even though about 50 percent of the population is rural and many smaller farms are trying to move to a new market platform and adopt modern technologies. Also, the book made the point that there are other technologies than agricultural that are required to assist the farm population in making a successful transformation and becoming more productive components of the agricultural economy.

Kazakhstan FAO Project

Based on the book that was written, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has commissioned a project in Kazakhstan to try to implement the recommended approach. The Rector of the Kazakh National Agrarian University has agreed to cooperate. The project will occur during 2013, and bring in to NCFAP a significant sum of funding. It has great potential for being expanded to the other New Independent States, all of which are struggling to set the appropriate extension system.

Cooperative Agreement with UDA/OCE

NCFAP is currently engaged in a cooperative agreement with the Office of the Chief Economist of USDA for investigation the relationship of petroleum and agricultural feedstock prices. The result has been that a sophisticated time series analysis of monthly prices for the period 1990 – 2010 has shown that there is no relationship, except for short tern period that were brought on mainly by government policy. This result will be published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics during 2013. We have also shown that with current technology switch grass and corn stover are not competitive with grains for biofuel. Our last project is now being completed and is focused on the relationships of futures prices for petroleum products and agricultural feedstock. These papers will put a halt to the specious claims that agricultural feedstock used for fuel are diminishing the potential for feeding the world with grains, a constant clam of various groups that are watching technology and used of agricultural products worldwide. It also drives a stake in the rhetoric about alternative feedstock and their potential use for agricultural feedstock for producing petroleum like products.

Women’s Farm and Forestry Alliance

The Women’s Farm and Forestry Alliance was organized through NCFAP to provide online skills training for leadership, financial and business management that is targeted for women who produce and market all types of agricultural or forestry products. A Board of Incorporators was established to shape the vision, and Stan Johnson, NCFAP Chairman of the Board, served as one of the original members. The Alliance launched a website and hosted a National Gathering on March 11-12, 2013. The program is now under the Center for Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota, and they are in the process of developing and recording on-line curriculum modules. Their website is www.wf2a.org