Story by Audrey Green, sophomore (ACJ)
“We take a lot of things for granted in our U.S. ag production systems,” says Jason Ellis of his recent trip to Guatemala. Ellis, associate professor of agricultural communications and journalism, and his team are actively working to improve the livelihoods of Guatemalan agriculturalists. The initiative is one of four grants awarded to Kansas State University from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and it aims to reduce post-harvest loss and food waste in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana and Guatamala.Ellis’ nine-day trip to Central America helped develop an engagement and outreach program to reduce post-harvest loss of corn—Guatemala’s staple crop. Ellis’ team aims to provide education to improve grain harvest, drying and storage practices.
To establish a foundation for their work, Ellis helped train locals to conduct interviews with family farmers. The interviews will be used as a basis to determine major issues and areas for improvement in agricultural practices. Other K-State researchers are collecting information about the quality of grain and the presence of mycotoxins.
Ellis is not the only professor in the department working to improve agriculture in foreign countries. Dr. Shannon Washburn, professor of agricultural education, and his team are actively engaged in both Ghana and Ethiopia. Both faculty members are using their knowledge of agriculture to provide better food and living conditions for the rest of the world.
“The project is going really well,” says Ellis.
Ellis and his team plan to venture to Guatemala twice a year to further advance their agricultural research. Ellis and Washburn are doing their part to help improve the global food system.