Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Plants, Soils, and Climate

Committee Chair(s)

David Hole


David Hole


Roger Kjelgren


Bruce Miller


In 2009, Morrell Agro Industries (MAI) was formed in Ethiopia with the mission to end famine in the country through growing imported dryland wheat varieties from the western United States. MAI entered into a lease agreement with the Ethiopian government for 25,000 ha of land in semi-arid brushland in the Oromia region. The Beltu farm was established at the location for seed multiplication and demonstration of the dryland initiative concept. From the first harvest in July of 2010 several challenges arose that prevented the success of the dryland seed initiative. From high intensity short duration rainfall events on Vertisol soils, to local violence and government corruption. On-farm research was conducted to understand issues causing poor crop performance. Test results showed water availability to be the most limiting factor for crop yields. Poor crop performance, coupled with unexpected government bureaucracy and the harsh business environment of Ethiopia led to the Beltu farm being abandoned by 2013 before research could be completed. This report examines the challenges and opportunities of socially aware entrepreneurship in developing countries.

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Agriculture Commons