Innovation in America is about bigger, better, and way more bling. It's about the latest gadget and gizmo. And it's about the thing that could transform the entire world. Innovations in Africa are more simple. Practical. Something that will use the resources they already have in a better way. I was excited about the potential of going to Zanzibar from the minute I knew I was awarded the Explorer Fellowship. When I googled "vegetable farmers in Zanzibar" looking for stories to tell and found Danny Coyne and his work with tomatoes, I became totally stoked! Danny and his team at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) work with local farmers to help them have a more successful harvest. Particularly by managing pests and providing drip irrigation, the farmers have already begun to see healthier tomatoes. One of the things I was most impressed and inspired by is the pride the farmers have in what they do. They want to learn how to make their crops better. Even in our short visit, Mary, a member of IITA, showed the women farmers the difference between a healthy root and an infested one (the bad one looks like it has acne). As simple as it may be, gaining knowledge about better growing techniques is the innovation here. Having access to this kind information is a big deal for rural Africa. By understanding what could potentially kill off their crops and how to stretch the limited water supply to more land, these farmers may eventually have the ability to send their tomatoes all over the world. A practical knowledge may be the key that lets these farmers in Zanzibar feed the planet. It's as simple as that!
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