Month: January 2021

Conference Reimagined

Craig Bielema attended the Appropriate Technology Virtual fair from Burundi. Carolina Cardona participated from Guatemala. Bryant Vaughn attended from Columbus, Georgia, and Hermansyah Chen joined in from Indonesia. Though these four individuals had never met, ECHO’s Virtual event brought them — and hundreds more — together to share, grow, and find practical solutions for the communities that they serve.

The ECHO Appropriate Technology Fair, first implemented in East Africa, was held in person in 2019 as part of ECHO Florida’s annual conference. Development workers had the opportunity to experience multiple technologies in one place and ask specific questions. Missionaries were inspired with ways to impact the communities around them. The in-person experience was a great model, but in a COVID-19 landscape we expanded our equipping work by going virtual.

Appropriate Technology, or AT, is a subset of agricultural development work that helps reduce some of the manual labor that agriculturalists bear. It could be a planter or thresher, a pedalpowered grinding wheel, or a water filter. Most often, AT consists of simple machines, but it can be any implement that helps people use what they have to make what they need.

“The shared knowledge and skills were of much help to my area of work.”

With COVID-19 travel restrictions still a reality for so many, this virtual format allowed 333 missionaries, development workers, and community leaders from 43 countries to be inspired, connect with others, and stay up-to-date on what they need to know. Plenary sessions, lightning talks, and interactive live sessions allowed attendees to learn from presenters and ask their own questions as well. “The shared knowledge and skills were of much help to my area of work,” one attendee commented. “I will join any of your meetings because they are very resourceful to me,” said another.

Building on the rich history of ECHO conferences and this virtual event, the upcoming ECHO International Agriculture Conference is poised to both continue offering high-quality experiences and implement a virtual format that will bring together practitioners from around the globe.

Participants will learn from renown experts in global agricultural development. We invite you to join us  for an exciting International Agriculture Conference.

Visit to register for this year’s conference.


Equipped For a Food Secure Future

Lembris Mollel is an East African farmer with five children. They live on five acres of land and farm corn, beans, sunflowers, vegetables and bananas. Because of an ECHO training on conservation agriculture, Lembris has been connected to ECHO’s resources for four years and shares what he learns with a local farmer cooperative.

Conservation agriculture equipment helps farmers adopt practices to repair degraded soils and boost crop production. But access to affordable and easy-to-maintain farming equipment is a challenge in many places. Adapted from an Ethiopian plow, ECHO East Africa has been developing, testing and adjusting the no-till Maresha planter to arrive at a practical design that can be affordably built from local materials.

“Planting beans on this farm takes my family two days of hard work, but now look! It has taken only three hours! This has inspired me.”

Testing out one of the recent protoypes, Mollel exclaimed, “Planting beans on this farm takes my family two days of hard work, but now look! It has taken only three hours! This has inspired me.”

He continued to describe the local challenges, “We struggle with too many pests and sometimes they become difficult to manage. As a result, we are incurring a lot of costs for pesticides which affects our household economy. Another problem is lack of affordable equipment to reduce the hard work. I am so encouraged and interested with the progress of the Maresha direct seeder planter.“

Because of his ECHO training, Lembris plans to use simple and manageable farm implements to improve his farming business. He is also planning to add value to his produce. Instead of selling the maize grain, he wants to purchase a milling machine so that he can mill and package maize flour to sell it for a higher income. He continued, “I thank you for ECHO’s work and thank God for keeping us food secure. Currently, I only need to buy salt to sustain my family.”

Left: Lembris Mollel and his son learn the benefits of the Maresha direct seed planter during an ECHO training.