Big project for small Polish farms

The World of English spoke with Prof. Louis Moore from Penn State University about agriculture and the extension service program in Poland.

WOE: Whose idea was it that Penn State's extension service should come to Poland?

Prof. Moore: In 1990, Don Evans asked me to take part in a study tour, and this was the beginning. He was an assistant dean for agriculture at Penn State University. Don's idea was that with the falling of the Wall and all the things that were happening in Eastern Europe there were opportunities for agricultural programs in Poland and other countries.

The late Dr. Donald E. Evans, from Penn State University, was a great friend of Poland and the Polish people. It was his idea to start farming extension services in Poland back in 1990. This service teaches modern and tested methods and, most importantly, sends specialists from Penn State University's Agriculture Department in America to Poland. It was Dr. Evans' idea to have extension service workshops run by American farming experts.

When and how were these programs started?

The first study team had members from Michigan State as well as Penn State, and we spent a month looking into the state of agriculture throughout Poland. In 1991, the United States Agriculture Department signed an agreement with Penn State University authorizing them to go to Poland and help develop the extension program.

Where were you sent to educate Polish farmers?

Upon the suggestion of the Polish Ministry of Agriculture, we were directed to the small town of Boguchwała near Rzeszów where we spent nearly three weeks with Józef Flaga, who was then the director of a large state farm. He showed us the advisory service at his disposition. We visited large farm-produce processing plants and talked with many farmers. Then we returned to Penn State and put together an educational program especially geared for Polish needs.

Last September,Mr. Edward J. Piszek(left), President of the Copernicus Foundation in Poland, donated a Notill Planter in memory of Dr. Donald E. Evans of Penn State University. The planter was given to the Agriculture Extension Service in Boguchwała near Rzeszów.

A modern piece of farming equipment that does a complete planting job, the Notill Planter makes a shallow furrow, sows the seeds and fertilizes them at the same time. It saves time and fuel because once around any grain field the entire planting job is done instead of three separate operations.

What kind of program was prepared and by whom?

We came back to Poland in April 1991 and put on some workshops, which stressed economics and marketing knowledge. Cooperating with the USDA between April and July of that year, it was decided that our program would be used. The USDA expanded our program and planned to send five teams every six months to various provinces in Poland with the hope of completely covering the country within five years.

Why was Penn State University selected to organize farmers' workshops?

As the creator of the programs, Penn State was given the right to send one team along with each group. During communist times, the USDA had sent lots of aid to Poland on a sell basis and it was to be paid for in Polish currency. The backlog of zlotys was used to finance farmers' development programs until 1996. After this five-year period, Penn State University continued its educational efforts and cooperation with Józef Flaga. There were one-week workshops in Boguchwała to which we invited some Ukrainian rectors because we thought that the export of some Polish knowledge would be helpful. We conducted three workshops over three years in Poland. In 1999, we did a workshop in Kiev because of the great interest on the Ukrainian side, but they weren't as receptive to Americans as we had expected them to be. So when we returned to Boguchwała with our conferences we invited the Ukrainians
to join us. This was a good move because when the Ukrainians came and saw all the small Polish farms with advanced technology, machinery, high quality products and all the conveniences of city living, they were amazed at what they themselves were lacking.

Do you feel that your work in Poland is rewarding?

Yes. Poland has come a long way in the past five to seven years. It was an experimental project with small farms as our main objective and I feel that it's been very successful.