Reflections on journey to Algeria - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Reflections on journey to Algeria

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Four days in Algeria.

A country of beautiful sunsets, delicious food, and the Sahara Desert.

A group of eastern Iowans returned home after visiting Elkader's sister city of Mascara in North Africa.

I arrived there eager, ready to tell the story of this special and unique connection. 

We first made it to Algiers, the capital city. From there, it was a 5 hour drive to Mascara.  On this journey, we were able to see the vastness and beauty of the country, also, the many mountains.

Once in Mascara, it was time to honor the Muslim man and military hero, Emir Abdelkader, who led Algeria to fight against french occupation in the 1800s.

The town Elkader is named after him. 

"This is the story about a good Muslim hero -- he was revered by people around the world in his day," said Kathy Garms, Director of the Abdelkader Education Project. 

The relationship between Iowa and Algeria is developing more.  We visited an olive farm and future dairy farm. The country wants to expand its agriculture industry.

"Our local farmers can help with dairy and seeds and agriculture, and to help them be able to produce what they want to do. They wanna be able to do this in about a five-year span," said Elkader Mayor Josh Pope. 

This is so they can reduce the amount of imported milk powder to produce their own. 

Ag experts in Algeria say they are looking at buying thousands of dairy cattle to make this possible. They are hoping some of them will come from Iowa.

So far, they've bought seed from Dupont Pioneer based in Johnston. We're told, they have also been in talks with the manufacturing company Mobile Track Solutions based in Elkader. 

Mayor Pope hopes more people will be open to partnering with the Algerians.

Although it was a short trip, the country made a lasting impression. I'll miss the generosity of the people, the mint tea, the views of the Mediterranean coast, and those never-ending mountains.

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