Weather Forecast


Group plans to ship agricultural books to Africa

Books For Africa (BFA) has begun a new initiative to collect and ship much-needed agricultural libraries to schools, universities and government agencies in Africa.

The project is modeled after BFA's Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative in which law books and law libraries from Thomson Reuters are sent to law schools in Africa.

"There is a great demand from our friends in Africa for agricultural and natural resource books of all kinds," said Patrick Plonski, executive director of BFA. "They need the educational support to develop their agriculture sector. Minnesota has a wealth of agricultural resources and expertise so it's another way we can help."

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Office (FAO), 73 percent of the rural population of Africa consists of smallholder famers, and in Sub-Sahara African alone, agriculture accounts for 21 percent of the entire continent's GDP.

This agricultural, natural resources and vocational library is aimed at providing high-school level agricultural education information and resources to rural populations in Africa, and includes books from sources as wide-ranging as the FAO and major universities to small publishers and equipment manufacturers.

BFA will be working with Finney Company of Lakeville, whose Hobar Publications specializes in agricultural and technical educational books and other products. BFA plans to begin sending agricultural books within the next month and to increase shipments to meet the demand.

Plonski is meeting in early April in Rome with officials of the United Nations World Food Programme and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to help promote BFA's agricultural books and libraries and establish partnerships.

Prior to joining BFA in 2003, Plonski served for five years as executive director of the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council, a legislative council based at the University of Minnesota promoting agricultural education in Minnesota. From 1987-1998 he served as committee administrator for the Minnesota House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture. Plonski holds a Ph.D. in Education with extensive coursework in agricultural education and has conducted international education projects. He grew up on a farm in rural Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

Books For Africa is the world's largest shipper of donated educational and law books to Africa. Since its founding in 1988, it has shipped more than 26 million books to 46 African countries.