Frequently Asked Questions

A Project of Eliminate Poverty NOW and Pencils for Kids

What is The Dov Pasternak Horticultural Training Center?

The goal of The Dov Center is to create the premier technical training center for horticulture in Niger. The Center will provide the critical ingredient to successful economic development in rural areas — hundreds of well-trained field technicians to teach subsistence farmers to farm for profit.

The Dov Center and its training programs can reach beyond Niger by attracting students from other African countries and through replication of the model in other locations.

What are the goals of the Dov Center?

To create a new generation of agricultural technicians to teach subsistence farmers to approach farming as a business.

To conduct seminars for practitioners of agricultural development on best practices in rural economic development.

To advocate for multi-year training and supervision to achieve sustainable transformation of rural economies.

Why is The Dov Center in Niger?

The climate zone of the Sahel poses special challenges for agriculture. The Sahel sits south of the Sahara Desert in a semi-arid zone that gets just enough rainfall to support agriculture. It is home to tens of millions of smallholder farmers struggling to feed their families and survive. To make matters worse, the region experiences drought in 2 years out of every 5 due to climate change. Improving crop yields and income under these conditions is particularly daunting.

Perhaps no country on earth poses greater challenges than Niger. Niger ranked dead last globally on the UN’s 2020 Human Development Index. Here, 40% of children suffer from malnutrition. 65% of the population are illiterate. Four out of every five Nigeriens work in agriculture and almost all are subsistence farmers living in extreme poverty. UNICEF considers Niger the world’s most underfunded humanitarian crisis.

Why is it called The Dov Center?

The Center is named in honor of Professor Dov Pasternak, a world-renowned agricultural scientist who literally wrote the book on Agricultural Prosperity in Dry Africa. English and French editions of the book are available on Amazon.

In his 50-year career Dov played a prominent role in Israel’s miracle of making the desert bloom, consulted in over 20 countries, wrote or co-authored hundreds of research papers, and held a UNESCO World Chair in Desertification.

Dov devoted the last 18 years of his life working with subsistence farmers in the African Sahel to escape poverty by approaching farming as a business. He earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for International Development (SID) for improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of farmers in West Africa.

How and from where will students be recruited?

Students with a high school diploma or its equivalent and fluency in French will be accepted from Niger and neighboring West African countries.

Scholarships will be used extensively in the early years to attract quality applicants as the center establishes its reputation.

What is the curriculum of The Dov Center?

Students enrolled in the two-year technician program will learn fundamentals of agricultural science, best practices in horticulture, strategies to maximize profits, principles of running profitable farm cooperatives, and techniques for teaching effectively to rural farmers.

The school will emphasize creative thinking and problem solving and take a “learn-by-doing” approach using its training gardens, field trips, and a three-month internship assignment to cap students’ studies.

What happens to students after they graduate?

We expect the majority of graduates will be hired as field technicians supporting agricultural development projects. Others will be hired by private agribusiness companies or pursue agribusiness opportunities of their own.

What is the scale of the work The Dov Center will achieve?

The center will graduate 40 technicians per year. Each technician can support up to five sites at a time with an average of 50 farmers per site. The average household size in Niger is six. So in five years the center can graduate 200 technicians with the ability to support up to 300,000 farmers and their families.

How is this different from other smallholder farming assistance programs/organizations?

The goal of most smallholder farming projects is to achieve food security by improving yields of traditional rainfed crops. While important, this approach still leaves millions of farmers impoverished and malnourished. The Dov Center believes agricultural development must enable farmers to achieve income security by approaching farming as a business. This requires changing farmers’ mindset (growing crops for the market rather than the family table) and farming practice (using irrigation to grow high value fruits and vegetables year-round).

The difference in results is dramatic. An irrigated field managed for profit can generate up to 20 times the economic value of traditional rainfed crops.

How will results be measured?

Results will be measured on three inter-connected aspects:

Recruitment and graduation of students, with a goal of 40 per year completing the two-year training program.
– Placement/employment of graduates in jobs that significantly increase farmer productivity and profitability.
– Numbers of villages and smallholder farmers reached and results achieved over a three-year period.

Does The Dov Center have partners?

The Dov Center is founded by three NGOs working together for over a decade: Eliminated Poverty NOW (US); Pencils for Kids (Canada); and NGO LIBO (Niger).
The Center is establishing formal partnerships with other outstanding organizations to assist in its creation and on-going operations:
– ICRISAT (International Crops Research in the Semi-Arid Tropics) – ICRISAT is one of the premier agricultural research centers in Africa.
– The Songhai Center – Founded and directed by Father Godfrey Nzamujo, the Songhai Center is devoted to creating agricultural entrepreneurs. It operates a dozen training centers in Benin and neighboring countries.
– Volcani International Partners (VIP) – Volcani is the agricultural science arm for Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture. VIP strengthens Israel’s standing as a global leader in agricultural innovation by sharing its experience, expertise and technology around the world.

What is the track record of Eliminate Poverty NOW/Pencils For Kids/ONG LIBO?

• Eliminate Poverty NOW ( empowers Africa’s extreme poor, especially women, to lift themselves out of poverty. Over 15 years EPN has fielded projects in 8 sub-Saharan countries benefitting thousands.
• Pencils for Kids ( has been working in Niger since 2007, increasing access to education and vocational training for Niger’s extreme poor.
• ONG LIBO began working with Pencils for Kids in 2008. In addition to improving access to education and healthcare, LIBO develops innovative programs to eradicate poverty and promote self-sufficiency.
• Beginning in 2010, the 3 organizations joined with Dov Pasternak to field test, optimize and expand his concept, called Farmers of the Future, enabling women to earn twice the average annual income of Niger — approximately $1,000/year. Women in local villages form cooperatives and learn to farm for profit. They spend their earnings on food, education, and medical care for their families. The entire community benefits.
• The Farmers of the Future program currently operates in a dozen villages in Niger.

Who is funding the creation of the Dov Center?

• Fundraising is being conducted by Eliminate Poverty NOW, a US-based 501(c)(3) and Pencils for Kids (a Canadian-based charity).
• North American and international foundations, companies and individuals are contributing to the project.
• The fundraising goal to construct and start-up the Center is $1.5 million by September 2021. As of January 2021, $900,000 has been raised.

How will The Dov Center be sustained financially?

• The Dov Center will become financially self-supporting by its fifth year with income streams from four primary sources: tuition, seminar fees, consulting fees, and income from sale of training garden produce. Additional sources of income will be developed over time.
Given all the problems facing the world today, why should I support The Dov Center at this time?
• The Dov Center addresses a pressing global problem. Millions of subsistence farmers in Africa are abandoning their homes in search of better opportunities elsewhere. They join the ranks of the urban poor or, worse yet, end up in refugee camps in Africa, Europe and beyond. The Dov Center promotes agriculture as a path to income security and enables farmers to earn a living where they currently live by doing what they know best – farming!

How do I contribute to the Dov Center? Do you accept donations of securities?

• In the US, tax deductible contributions can be made through Eliminate Poverty NOW on-line at or by check mailed to Eliminate Poverty NOW, PO Box 67, Mendham, NJ 07945.
• Eliminate Poverty NOW also accepts donations of securities. Contact Helen Greenberg at for details.
• In Canada, tax deductible contributions can be made through Pencils For Kids either on-line or by cheque. To donate online via Canada Helps: To donate by cheque: Pencils For Kids c/o Robin Mednick, 1 Bedford Road, Suite 904, Toronto, ON, M5R 2B5, Canada
• For information regarding donations of securities to Pencils for Kids, please contact: Robin Mednick at for instructions