Restoring his native soil

July 25, 2022

Land and Atmospheric Science PhD alumnus Esakakondo “Al” Lohese aims to address soil health and food insecurity in his home country in Central Africa.

When Esakakondo “Al” Lohese began his PhD in Land and Atmospheric Science, he had a clear mission: To restore the soil in Sankuru province, which lies in the geographic center of Lohese’s home country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as DRC or Congo. 

“As I was growing up, food was everywhere,” recalled Lohese. Sankuru was known as an agricultural region, and staple crops of rice, banana, pineapple, potatoes, and sugar cane grew abundantly. Lohese comes from a family of farmers, and he remembers helping his mother in the field as a child. But today, hunger is a major issue; throughout the country, 26 million people—more than a quarter of the population— are acutely food insecure, according to the World Food Programme. Conflict in the area exacerbates the problem, as millions of people are displaced and the food supply struggles to keep up. Increased demand for food in some regions has led to overusing the soil without replenishing its fertility, not allowing for the rotation of crops or to lay fallow between cultivations. Read the full story on the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate's website