July 16th, 2010

Abera and I left for Addis this morning at 6:00 am to get to our meeting at 10:00. The four hour drive gave us plenty of time to discuss our plans for Kokosa. We stopped in Mojo to by some bombolinos, a fried bread shaped like a donut, for breakfast.
Research plots at the VOH compound near Kersa Illala

We spent the day updating Tsehay on the projects in Kersa Illala and Kokosa.  She has joined the company from her position as a dairy advisor with Land O’ Lakes, a USAID project that taught dairymen how to improve production.  She will be helping all of the operations with data collection and analysis to help us use the best practices.  She will be very helpful to get the dairy going.

We spent several hours discussing the ownership situation of the Kokosa property.  The land was leased to us over a year ago but the buildings have to be purchased separately.  The original land agreement was for 357 hectares but when the contract was written up the scribe wrote 247 hectares.  In trying to resolve the issue we used GPS to estimate the farm size and came up with about 450 hectares. (Once we calculated all of the indentations and crooked border lines by walking the entire border with the GPS, we came up with about 350 hectares.)  The regional officials came and estimated that it was over 1000 hectares.  Now we are trying to determine the correct way to resolve this issue and which level of government we have to work with. Once the land issue is resolved then we can work on purchasing the buildings.  Part of the struggle is just learning how the government operates.

I am feeling the effects of a long hard week.  It has been hard for me to stay focused and excited about this administration work when I am so tired, especially when the conversation drifts to the Amharic language and I only pick up bits and pieces of the discussion.

This evening Paul took a group of us to Avanti, an Italian restaurant that has good quality food. Many of the Beltu farm staff were there so he gave them a pep talk.  Paul is such a good leader.  He has a way of calmly and directly showing others his vision in such a way that it inspires you to reach farther, work harder and get better results.  He is just an ordinary man with struggles like the rest of us but he is accomplishing extraordinary results in impossible circumstances.  This work is incredibly difficult but very rewarding.