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American Cultivates Land, Soldiers in DRC
Skiing on the muddy-brown waters of the Congo River may sound like a wild adventure, but for one man, it&#39;s a usual leisure activity. <br /> <br />Beau Davis, a 27-year-old Nigerian-born American, lives along the river in Kisangani, Democratic
CAMP BASE, Democratic Republic of Congo - Beau Davis, the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture Democratic Republic of Congo country director and project coordinator, shows land being cleared for future farming as part of the institute's partnership with U.S. Africa Command to produce a large-scale agriculture project on Camp Base March 17, 2011. The project is aimed at assisting Congolese soldiers from the Armed Forces of the DRC in becoming self-sufficient in food production for the camp. (AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty)
5 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 5: CAMP BASE, Democratic Republic of Congo - Beau Davis, the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture Democratic Republic of Congo country director and project coordinator, shows land being cleared for future farming as part of the institute's partnership with U.S. Africa Command to produce a large-scale agriculture project on Camp Base March 17, 2011. The project is aimed at assisting Congolese soldiers from the Armed Forces of the DRC in becoming self-sufficient in food production for the camp. (AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty) Download full-resolution version
CAMP BASE, Democratic Republic of Congo - A pig barn sits on the edge of one of two fish ponds on Camp Base, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), March 17, 2011. The Normal Borlaug Institute was contracted in October 2009 to conduct a two-year agriculture project with the DRC's armed forces at Camp Base to help subsidize the food needed by the troops as well as to equip the roughly 60 soldiers who are part of the agricultural company to sustain the mission through training. (AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty)
5 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 2 of 5: CAMP BASE, Democratic Republic of Congo - A pig barn sits on the edge of one of two fish ponds on Camp Base, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), March 17, 2011. The Normal Borlaug Institute was contracted in October 2009 to conduct a two-year agriculture project with the DRC's armed forces at Camp Base to help subsidize the food needed by the troops as well as to equip the roughly 60 soldiers who are part of the agricultural company to sustain the mission through training. (AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty) Download full-resolution version
CAMP BASE, Democratic Republic of Congo - The Agricultural Company commander of the Democratic Republic of Congo armed forces at Camp Base outside Kisangani (left), stands with the Normal Borlaug Institute staff contracted to conduct an agriculture project at Camp Base to help subsidize the food needed by the troops as well as to equip the roughly 60 soldiers who are part of the agricultural company to sustain the mission through training. (AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty)
5 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 3 of 5: CAMP BASE, Democratic Republic of Congo - The Agricultural Company commander of the Democratic Republic of Congo armed forces at Camp Base outside Kisangani (left), stands with the Normal Borlaug Institute staff contracted to conduct an agriculture project at Camp Base to help subsidize the food needed by the troops as well as to equip the roughly 60 soldiers who are part of the agricultural company to sustain the mission through training. (AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty) Download full-resolution version
CAMP BASE, Democratic Republic of Congo - A young pig is one of a handful on the Camp Base farm in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo, as part of an agricultural initiative with the Normal Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture and U.S. Africa Command. The farm is aimed at assisting Congolese soldiers from the Armed Forces of the DRC at Camp Base in becoming self-sufficient in food production. (AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty)
5 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 4 of 5: CAMP BASE, Democratic Republic of Congo - A young pig is one of a handful on the Camp Base farm in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo, as part of an agricultural initiative with the Normal Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture and U.S. Africa Command. The farm is aimed at assisting Congolese soldiers from the Armed Forces of the DRC at Camp Base in becoming self-sufficient in food production. (AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty) Download full-resolution version
CAMP BASE, Democratic Republic of Congo - A Congolese soldier stands in a field in the farming area on Camp Base, Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo. (AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty)
5 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 5 of 5: CAMP BASE, Democratic Republic of Congo - A Congolese soldier stands in a field in the farming area on Camp Base, Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo. (AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty) Download full-resolution version
CAMP BASE, Democratic Republic of Congo - Beau Davis, the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture Democratic Republic of Congo country director and project coordinator, shows land being cleared for future farming as part of the institute's partnership with U.S. Africa Command to produce a large-scale agriculture project on Camp Base March 17, 2011. The project is aimed at assisting Congolese soldiers from the Armed Forces of the DRC in becoming self-sufficient in food production for the camp. (AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty)
CAMP BASE, Democratic Republic of Congo - A pig barn sits on the edge of one of two fish ponds on Camp Base, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), March 17, 2011. The Normal Borlaug Institute was contracted in October 2009 to conduct a two-year agriculture project with the DRC's armed forces at Camp Base to help subsidize the food needed by the troops as well as to equip the roughly 60 soldiers who are part of the agricultural company to sustain the mission through training. (AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty)
CAMP BASE, Democratic Republic of Congo - The Agricultural Company commander of the Democratic Republic of Congo armed forces at Camp Base outside Kisangani (left), stands with the Normal Borlaug Institute staff contracted to conduct an agriculture project at Camp Base to help subsidize the food needed by the troops as well as to equip the roughly 60 soldiers who are part of the agricultural company to sustain the mission through training. (AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty)
CAMP BASE, Democratic Republic of Congo - A young pig is one of a handful on the Camp Base farm in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo, as part of an agricultural initiative with the Normal Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture and U.S. Africa Command. The farm is aimed at assisting Congolese soldiers from the Armed Forces of the DRC at Camp Base in becoming self-sufficient in food production. (AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty)
CAMP BASE, Democratic Republic of Congo - A Congolese soldier stands in a field in the farming area on Camp Base, Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo. (AFRICOM photo by Staff Sergeant Amanda McCarty)
Skiing on the muddy-brown waters of the Congo River may sound like a wild adventure, but for one man, it's a usual leisure activity.

Beau Davis, a 27-year-old Nigerian-born American, lives along the river in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and works there as an agriculturist.

He's spent most of his life in Africa, drives a motorcycle around town, is never caught without his cowboy hat and boots, and speaks with a unique accent that reflects his upbringing in Nigeria by missionary parents from Texas.

"I'm a proud American, but I think Africa is where I'll spend my life."

Davis, as he likes to be called by the Congolese (because his first name means handsome in French - one of the languages spoken there), works for the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M where he went to school.

The institute was contracted in October 2009 to conduct a two-year agriculture project with the DRC's armed forces at Camp Base outside Kisangani. Funded by the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Africa Command's (AFRICOM) partnership with the Borlaug project aims to help subsidize the food needed by the troops as well as to equip the roughly 60 soldiers who are part of the agricultural company to sustain the mission through training.

Since the partnership started, the farm has grown to include two ponds with thousands of tilapia, a few pigs, nearly 30 cattle, and tens of hectares of crops such as cassava, maize and other vegetables, and several more hectares of cleared land. The project has not been without its problems however.

It's difficult to grow many crops due to the sandy, nutrient-drained soil caused by flooding, said Davis. He and his team counter this by developing training specifically for the unique conditions, audience and crops at Camp Base.

Many Madika developed the training plan uniquely for the soldiers and works with them directly as well. A main challenge was finding a way to teach the soldiers, some of whom only speak Lingala or Swahili, she said. Madika created cards with basic agricultural methods and information in both languages, as well as French, and started personally training soldiers to help overcome barriers. She said the project is making an impact, but it a process that will take time.


Davis noted that support from leadership and the community are also essential to maintain the success of the mission, which is why he and his staff work with them personally.

Leaders from the company commander to the DRC minister of defense are involved in the project, Davis said. In fact, the minister, who expressed his vision for the project to expand, visited the farm March 19, 2011, to check on its progress.

"This is really the model that must be followed in other camps," said the Congolese Defense Minister Mwando Simba during his visit. "Here, it is already an advanced project."

Community interaction is an important part of the farm's long-term sustainability, Davis added.

"The key is that we're doing the training here and we're here every day, but we're also equipping this company and this project with tie-in to the local agricultural sector - the local circle of experts - so when we leave and problems arise…they can go next door to the NGOs…," Davis said.

And with just six months left in the contract, Davis and his team are working hard to equip the agricultural company soldiers to sustain their mission.

As for Davis, he plans to stay involved with agriculture in Africa, and he may just ski the Congo River a few more times.




















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