Sun 05 Jul
Learning In Every Opportunity
I woke up to discover that we are half of the way into a 13 hour flight to Ethiopia - en route to South Africa! I pull my static hair away from my face and wonder, is this really what I'm hearing? Who on this flight is speaking about manure? What an odd conversation topic! My curiosity is peaked and I listen in from my seat, straining to hear their next words.
Agriculture! Of course.
I've just learned sometime new: the proper process from transforming fresh manure into a substance appropriate for agricultural purposes, providing nutrients to the soil for plants to grow. I can't help but wonder what other new knowledge can I glean. I lean in trying to be as discreet as possible.
The two men in front of me are speaking about farming communities of Southern, Central, and Western Africa. For a continent as large as it is, I am impressed by their agricultural knowledge of such diverse regions. I wonder which international organization they are with, or, whether they are professors.
They discuss agronomics and other political issues that Canada's university students learn and debate. It all came back to the basics. If people spend 80% of their days working the fields, physically spending themselves for their next meal, what time is there to think about tomorrow? If they want to eat today, they cannot prioritize tomorrow. The remainder of the time they spend preparing and enjoying the food they've worked hard to eat. This is no solely something seen in Africa but in other agricultural based economies too.
The conversation took us to examples beyond the continent too. The USA, Israel, Jordan, etc. They spoke of examples involving hydroponic farms, clearing cutting, exportation of potable water, desalination processes, erosion and terrace farming, drying food to preserve it for longer, price fixing, and private-governmental partnerships among many other things. The conversation culminated with one of them saying something I've strongly believed for quite some time. "The problem the world faces is not that we do not produce enough food. The problem is with distribution."
I am impressed by them and am thankful for the counter stereotypical reminder - intelligence, brilliance and innovation is active here across this content too. Not everyone works the same way around our globe but we face common challenges. Although our different environments and technologies really set us apart from each other these same challenges allow us to humbly learn from each other.
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