Six Questions for the Researcher: Ibrahim Katampe, Ph.D., on Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Program

By Cyril Ibe, Communications and Media Specialist
Posted May 29 2024
In Ohio Country Today reporter Gary Jackson interviews Ibrahim Katampe during the 2024 Land-Grant Open House in April

Above: In Ohio Country Today reporter Gary Jackson (left) interviews Ibrahim Katampe, Ph.D., during the 2024 Land-Grant Open House in April.

Ibrahim Katampe, Ph.D, professor of chemistry and assistant director for Innovation and Technology Transfer, Research, and Economic Development/Central State University 1890 Land-Grant Programs, is the project director for the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Project in collaboration with Ohio State University and A&B Porteus Farms. The two other CSU co-project directors are Cindy Folck, Ph.D., interim associate Extension administrator, and Robert Korir, Ph.D., research professor of Food Safety.

Communications and Media Specialist Cyril Ibe sent Katampe a list of questions for this special column, Six Questions for the Researcher. His answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Project

Q. What is the goal of this Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Project?

A. The goal of this partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service is to build markets for climate-smart commodities and to invest in America’s climate-smart producers to strengthen U.S. rural and agricultural communities. It will expand markets for climate-smart beef, fruits, vegetables, and other specialty crops in Ohio and southern Michigan and support farmers and ranchers with implementing and monitoring climate-smart practices. This five-year project (2023-28) will combine monitoring, outreach, and technical support to foster the adoption of climate-smart practices by minority, socially disadvantaged, and limited-resource vegetable and beef cattle farmers in Ohio and Michigan. The project will create synergy between climate-smart feedlot operations and the farmers, as well as provide experiential, hands-on climate-smart agriculture training to students from underserved populations.

"It will expand markets for climate-smart beef, fruits, vegetables, and other specialty crops in Ohio and Southern Michigan and support farmers and ranchers with implementing and monitoring climate-smart practices."

Q. The Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Project will require significant participation of historically underserved, socially disadvantaged, minority farmers. Which specific groups will be targeted, and what is the plan to recruit a good number of such farmers from across Ohio and southern Michigan?

A. Project partners plan to recruit minority vegetable and beef cattle farmers and selected Central State University students who will receive additional training on climate-smart agriculture. Specific groups targeted by this project will be veterans and socially disadvantaged farmers, minority farmers consisting of the following demographics will qualify to participate:

  • American Indians or Alaskan Natives
  • Asians
  • African Americans
  • Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders
  • Hispanics
  • Urban and rural farmers

The recruitment effort has begun already with an informational letter going out to farmers and ranchers around Ohio and in southern Michigan, surveying their level of interest in the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Project.

Q. What crops would qualify farmers and growers to participate in this program?

A. We would prefer to have farmers grow fruits and vegetables typical of all seasons. That is, we would expect farmers to be busy in all seasons — winter, spring, summer, and fall growing seasons. They will be encouraged to grow crops for all seasons.

Q. What incentivizing “carrots” will be offered to the participating farmers?

A. Financial incentives will be provided to farmers to allow the use of their lands. Small-scale and urban vegetable farmers enrolled in this project will receive funds to cover a part of their operating costs. Based on the size of plots calculated from $1,322 per acre, for example, 3,000 sq. ft. would equate to $91.05/year. We can’t emphasize enough that this project will not only benefit farmers, but also our environment. Other incentives will include seeds/seedlings for three crops during the growing season, as well as all the materials needed for the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry (CSAF) practices to be conducted on the plots. In addition, farmers are free to sell the produce grown on their land.

Q. The Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Project promises to develop markets and promote the resulting climate-smart commodities. Could you explain this?

A. Most of the farmers grow vegetables and small fruits for direct sales. This project will help quantify how the adoption of CSAFs is helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, carbon sequestering, and water use from small-scale and urban farms, as well as verify whether consumers are willing to support these practices and pay a premium for the final products. The project will leverage CSU’s Small Farm Program, which focuses on training for increasing the viability of minority, socially disadvantaged, and military veteran farmers. Socially disadvantaged and limited-resource farmers will not only learn about climate-smart farming systems but also understand the costs and benefits of these practices. Basically, working with these farmers, the project will measure, quantify, and verify the carbon greenhouse (GHG) benefits associated with the CSAF practices and determine the marketing and economic viability of the produce.

Q. In five years, what do you hope the climate-smart program would have done for the participating farmers in Ohio and Michigan and climate-change mitigation in the two states?

A. We hope that it would have significantly improved soil health and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by the adoption of these integrated climate-smart practices:

  • The use of regenerative agriculture to replace commercial fertilizers with natural and sustainable products such as manure-based products.
  • The use of no-till or minimal-till methods and mulching to reduce irrigation demands, and the use of precision nutrient application using plant tissue analyses to reduce fertilizer applications.

Learn more about the program.