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Intellect

Benson Institute sends videos about irrigation to Third World countries

To aid in the fight against world hunger and malnutrition, Brigham Young University's Ezra Taft Benson Institute, a division of the College of Biology and Agriculture that delivers applied agricultural science and technology to rural areas, has sent documentaries that focus on improved irrigation techniques to 137 universities in Latin America and Spain.

BYU hopes academics will use the information in the videos to teach farmers in Third World countries improved irrigation techniques that increase crop production. The instructional videos, which comprise 40 teaching modules, were filmed in Ecuador and translated from English into Spanish.

"Water is the life-blood of agricultural productions," says Allen Christensen, director of the Benson Institute. "We work in a lot of arid climates, and in order to keep the crops flourishing longer in the dry season, these places need life-saving irrigation. If countries can grow crops during the dry season, then people can more effectively feed their families."

The Benson Institute was founded in 1975 with the mission to increase self-sufficiency among rural families. The Institute solves food production problems by teaching families improved agricultural techniques to produce foods high in nutritional value. Undergraduate students help the Institute by conducting research in agriculture and nutrition and educating rural community residents about new farming techniques.

According to Christensen, this project emulates Ezra Taft Benson's vision for the Institute as an interactive center of information and technology that can aid small-scale farmers throughout the world. Benson was U.S. Secretary of Agriculture during the Eisenhower administration and the 13th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"Irrigation techniques were pioneered in Utah from the lowest level to more advanced techniques," says Christensen. "It's great to be taking these techniques to other countries and seeing fruitful results that can change people's lives."

Writer: Hilary Smoot

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Photo by Steve Walters/BYU Photo

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