Friday, September 07, 2012

Wahpeton-Breckenridge, North Dakota: Local farmers work to improve lives in South Africa

Carrie McDermott • Daily News
 Wallie Hardie stands with his Piper Seneca plane. He will fly a similar aircraft down to Africa in February to assist with farming operations.

Members of Kiwanis Club of Wahpeton-Breckenridge were treated to an educational presentation by farmer and businessman Wallie Hardie Wednesday afternoon. 

 Hardie and his son, Josh, recently returned from a three-week trip to Mozambique and Tanzania at the invitation of Aslan Group Global, an agricultural company that helped create sustainable farming in Ukraine. The company needed farming expertise for its large Rei de Agro farm it was creating in South Africa.

Hardie’s relationship with Africa actually began five years ago when his daughter spent a year in Mozambique as a missionary nurse.

“She loved it there, and my family visited her there, and we loved it too,” he said. “We loved the people — such caring and warm people.”

Unfortunately, unemployment is the reality in that area. Eighty percent of the people who live in Mozambique and Tanzania live on less than $2 a day, Hardie said.

“This is a tragedy of the human spirit. You drive the roads and you see them sitting there, doing nothing — no jobs, no prospects,” he said. “That’s the heartbreaking thing when you visit Africa. Everybody is the same, the desperate poverty is homogenous, it’s everywhere.”

Mozambique gave a 50-year concession of 35,000 tree-covered acres to Aslan to clear the land and plant soybeans, corn and other crops. Soybeans are needed to develop the chicken industry, Hardie explained.

“Chickens can be raised by families, and there are places you can get chicks, but the problem is the high price of feed,” Hardie said. “Soybeans have to be imported from Argentina at about $22 per bushel.”

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