Dear EPN Supporters

Here’s the final word on our 2020 annual fundraising effort. This year’s campaign raised money to create Niger’s premiere training center for horticulture. The Dov Center is our most ambitious project ever with the ability to improve lives for tens of thousands of Nigerien farmers and their families. We asked you to contribute above and beyond if you could. And that’s exactly what you did.

The Dov Center Construction in Progress

Contributions and pledges reached a total of $185,000, blowing away our previous record and making this our most successful campaign ever. Add in the 100% match from EPN’s Board and the total figure comes to $370,000. Fantastic!!

We’ll be raising the balance of funds needed from various foundations and companies. In the meantime, we’ll keep you posted on the progress of the construction of the main campus.

In closing, please accept our deepest thanks for your generosity. Without your support, none of this would be possible.

Latest Update on Dov Center

This year Eliminate Poverty NOW! focused its annual fundraiser on The Dov Center — the pre-eminent Horticultural Education location in Niamey, Niger. We described it as “The Big One” – the biggest project we’ve ever undertaken with by far the biggest impact. It will improve lives in Niger by the tens of thousands.

Since last month’s mailing went out, we have two pieces of good news to share. First, the response to our appeal to “go above and beyond” has been encouraging. To date we’ve received contributions from 37 donors and almost all are at or above historical levels. Thank you! And for those still waiting to donate, please take advantage of the 100% match opportunity and make your contribution before year-end.

Second, with the help of interim financing, construction contracts have been awarded and construction at The Dov Center is underway! The groundbreaking ceremony was held on November 24th. Crowd size was kept down given COVID concerns, but the ceremony was attended by members of the national government and many local officials.

Niger’s Minister of Higher Education lays the cornerstone for the Dov Center.

Niger’s Minister of Higher Education delivered the keynote address and spoke enthusiastically about the Center and its goals. He also participated in laying a cornerstone of the main building. Two local tv stations provided coverage and greatly increased awareness of the event.

As progress is made we will send updates. In the meantime, we wish you all Happy Holidays and our hopes for a kinder, saner and happier 2021

The Dov Center

We’re thrilled that rural economic development has become a top priority in Niger. We’re even more thrilled to see major funders like the World Bank and Millennium Challenge Corporation pledge hundreds of millions of dollars to increase farmer profitability. It hasn’t always been this way.

For years, “food security” has been the main focus in agricultural development, enabling farmers to grow enough food to feed themselves and their families. We’ve always felt this was important. Nobody wants people to starve. But it can still leave millions impoverished and malnourished. Food security is not enough. The bar must be raised, enabling farmers to achieve “economic security” and lift themselves out of chronic poverty. That’s the goal of Farmers of the Future and we’re thrilled to see that philosophy become a national priority.

In a country as bone-dry as Niger, irrigation is key to unlocking the economic potential of the land. Lots of money will be spent on infrastructure for wells, solar panels, water distribution systems and more to bring irrigation to rural areas. But infrastructure isn’t enough. Farmers must learn to grow and sell crops for maximum profit. It’s very different from the way they’ve farmed for generations. Mastering new concepts and techniques takes time and lots of intensive training and supervision by knowledgeable technicians. There’s only one problem. Those technicians are in desperately short supply.

So …. welcome to “The Dov Center.” Named in honor of Dov Pasternak, father of Farmers of the Future, we are creating the pre-eminent horticultural training center in Niger. The Dov Center will train the trainers, teaching them best practices in horticulture, strategies to turn vegetables and fruits into profitable businesses, and techniques to effectively teach what they learn to illiterate farmers.

We’re still raising money to build the main campus (classrooms, library, science lab, offices, and dormitory), but the training garden where theory is turned into practice is largely complete. Judy and I toured the garden and it’s impressive.

Touring the “Dov Center” Garden

We’ve installed 5 different irrigation systems so students can work with the irrigation methods they are most likely to encounter on the job. The garden will produce all its own compost and demonstrate the impact of proper soil nutrition on crop yields. There is a vegetable nursery to ready seedlings for transplanting, a seed multiplication area, a tree grafting facility, and a post-harvest storage area. Students will grow crops year-round in Niger’s 3 distinct growing seasons and learn the techniques for growing counter-seasonally so crops reach the market as prices peak.

One morning we invited mayors from three counties slated to receive millions of dollars for agricultural development to tour the garden. And the overwhelming reaction was “formidable!” (That’s French for “wonderful”) In fact, after the meeting they called their Millennium Challenge contact to ensure we were invited to submit proposals to develop gardens in their communities. Of course, their enthusiasm doesn’t guarantee anything. But it sure doesn’t hurt!

The Dov Center will greatly expand Niger’s technical capacity in horticulture and help achieve the rural economic development the country so desperately needs. And that would make Dov extremely proud!