An agricultural engineer working in international agricultural development for more than three decades and in more than 75 countries, Theodor Friedrich’s first experience with no-till equipment and conservation tillage came in cotton in Nicaragua in the early ‘90s. Since the mid-1990s, he has been involved in the creation, definition and promotion of the term conservation agriculture (CA) and the promotion of the related cropping system in field projects, government policy advice and international events. He served as senior officer of FAO, founding member of the CA workgroup of FAO and creator of the CA-Community of Practice (CA-CoP) global email list in 2009.
A university professor and agroecologist, Amir Kassam is an internationally recognized scientist who worked in leading positions for several different international organizations. He is also the author of numerous publications and books on sustainable agriculture and conservation agriculture. He worked for the past three decades for the promotion of conservation agriculture worldwide by assisting with field projects, no-till movements and governments all over the world. He was the initiator of a global conservation agriculture meeting at FAO in 2008 from which the CA-Community of Practice with its global network (CA-CoP) resulted. He’s managed the group as moderator since its establishment in 2009.
A university professor and soil scientist, Emilio Gonzales is a founding member of the Spanish no-till association and of the European Conservation Agriculture Federation. He is also an active promoter of conservation agriculture in Spain as well as in European agricultural policy.
Saidi Mkomwa is a university professor and has been the secretary of the African Conservation Tillage Network for roughly two decades since it was founded in 1998. The network is promoting conservation agriculture in Africa through national sub-groups by giving assistance to field projects of international organizations and policy advice to national governments and the African Union.
A university professor and director of the Conservation Tillage Institute of China Agricultural University, Li Hongwn is also the former director of the Conservation Tillage Research Centre at the same university. As a student of Prof. Gao Huanwen, he followed his teacher in the promotion of conservation agriculture (CA) and no-till in China and other countries. As an agricultural engineer he supported the local production of no-till seeders and related equipment in China as well as the research and promotion of conservation agriculture systems. Hongwen introduced them into the national agricultural policy of China and also supported the international CA community collaborating with international organizations like FAO.
Gao is a university professor and conservation agriculture and no-till pioneer in China. Since the early 1990s, he has worked on the research and development of no-till systems and the related machinery for Chinese agriculture. He was the founder and first director of the Conservation Tillage Research Centre in China.
A research scientist in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa working in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Christian Thierfelder has, with numerous research projects and publications in different African countries, proven that conservation agriculture is possible and feasible in Africa and gives the same positive results as elsewhere.
Yashpal Singh Saharawat
Yashpal Singh Saharawat is a research scientist in India who worked in different national and international agricultural research institutions, including the Rice-Wheat Consortium. He promoted conservation agriculture particularly in rice-based cropping systems in India and supported the international community as well.
Harminder Singh Sidhu
An agricultural engineer and promoter of conservation agriculture, Harminder Singh Sidhu also worked in different national and international research institutions on the development and promotion of conservation agriculture in rice-based cropping systems. He was instrumental in the development and promotion of the “Happy Seeder,” which enabled the effective handling of rice straw for no-till direct seeding immediately after rice harvest.
Mangi Lal Jat
A research scientist in India, Mangi Lal Jat worked in different national and international agricultural research institutions, including the Rice-Wheat Consortium. He promoted conservation agriculture particularly in rice-based cropping systems in India and supported the international community as well.
A research soil scientist, Raj Gupta is also a former group leader with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), for the Rice-Wheat Consortium, which opened the path to no-till cropping systems in the rice-wheat growing areas of India and the neighboring countries.
Richard Fowler (deceased)
Richard Fowler was a research scientist at the African Research Council station in Cedara, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. He was an early promoter of conservation agriculture in Africa.
Murat Karabayev (deceased)
An academician and highly decorated scientist from Kazakhstan, Murat Karabayev was instrumental for the development and promotion of conservation agriculture in Kazakhstan as leader of the first demonstration project, which resulted in a national policy to support the promotion of conservation agriculture in the country.
Antohny Muirhead is a no-till pioneer from the No-Till Club of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. He was one of the first no-till farmers in South Africa and an active member of the local no-till club to promote no-till among his fellow farmers.
A no-till pioneer farmer and co-ordinator of the No-Till Club of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, Richard Findlay has been promoting conservation agriculture among his fellow large-scale and smallholder farmers in KwaZulu Natal and elsewhere in South Africa for more than three decades.
A no-till pioneer farmer in England, Tony Reynolds is known for promoting conservation agriculture among his fellow farmers in the UK and Europe with farm research, field demonstrations and adoption advice.
A no-till pioneer farmer in France, Alfred is recognized for promoting conservation agriculture among his fellow farmers in France and Europe with on-farm research. In the past, he also provided farmers with imported no-till seeders from Brazil.
Thomas Sander is a no-till pioneer farmer in Germany and one of the first true conservation agriculture farmers in Germany with more than two decades of successful no-till farming experience. He is also the winner of a regional environmental prize.
An agronomist and no-till promoter in smallholder farming in Ghana and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, Kofi Boa works through the Center for No-Till Agriculture, the organization he founded with support from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. His extension work on conservation agriculture with smallholder farmers in Africa has provided ample evidence of its suitability for agricultural intensification with less time needed on the farm.
A research soil scientist at ICARDA and promoter of conservation agriculture in West Asia, Atef Haddad is responsible for designing an affordable no-till seeder that can be fabricated in village workshops using locally made parts. His research and extension work in West Asia has confirmed the productivity and economic benefits of conservation agriculture to smallholder farmers with limited access to production inputs.
In 1984, Gottlieb Basch started his experimental work for a PhD thesis comparing no-till and diversified crop rotations with the conventional system in the south of Portugal. Based on the promising results, he continued working on many research projects to create evidence at all levels (environmental, agronomic, soil health and biodiversity, carbon sequestration and GHG emission reduction and economic) for the manifold deliverables of conservation agriculture when compared to the conventional system. He has been a board member of the Portuguese Association for Conservation Tillage (APOSOLO) and the European Conservation Agriculture Federation (ECAF) since their foundations, having served as the chair of the latter from 2003-08 and from 2011 to present.
José Benites is a soil scientist with decades of working experience in research and international development related to soil management. Since the 1980s, he has been actively involved in and following the development and movement of no-till farming in Brazil and southern Latin America, supporting the regional promotion of no-till farming through the RELACO network. He is a foundation member of the FAO conservation agriculture workgroup and active promoter of conservation agriculture in conceptual development, promotion and policy advice through assistance of field projects, international conferences, publications and government advice worldwide.
An extension agronomist and promoter of conservation agriculture in Mozambique with a focus on smallholders, Jose Dambiro was responsible for assisting many thousands of manual farmers to adopt biological or organic conservation agriculture, particularly in Northern Mozambique.
Lyudmila Orlova, PhD in Economy, is the founder of the National Movement for Conservation Agriculture in Russia and an expert member of the governmental working groups on conservation agriculture, carbon balance control technologies, ecology and environmental protection. She has been awarded with a prestigious German Max Eyth prize as well as a number of medals for her contribution in implementing innovative agricultural soil-friendly technologies. Since its establishment in 2003, the National Movement for Conservation Agriculture in Russia has been actively working to spread the knowledge on conservation agriculture by organizing international conferences and webinars, publishing “Conservation Agriculture” magazine and regularly updating an Internet platform “Agroecomission,” cooperating with Russian and international organizations, and leading research and education institutions all over the world.
With a PhD in Agronomy from Colorado State University in 1997, Rachid Mrabet is a research director with more than 30 years of experience in conservation agriculture (CA) research and advisory. Through his understanding and promotion of CA, he addressed the main challenges of climate change, food and soil security, and he played a vital role in Morocco’s CA Road Map of 1 million hectares (2020-30). He has also authored 20 books, 66 book chapters and 82 peer-reviewed papers. He is an AR6 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expert, deputy president of the World Association of Soil and Water Conservation, a panelist at International Conservation Agriculture Advisory Panel for Africa and a consultant for FAO. He has received 7 awards including the 2019 Distinguished Research Award from WASWAC, the 2020 North South Prize of the Council of Europe and 2022 Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity as Coordinating Lead Author for IPCC.
Stephen Boulakia is a French agronomist, engineer and researcher of Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD). As part of a R&D team created by Lucien Séguy, Boulakia has been working on the transfer, adaptation and evaluation of conservation agriculture (CA) based systems for smallholders in various tropical ecologies in Africa and SE Asia. With colleagues of the AIDA research unit, his current works deal with co-design of CA based systems for irrigated rice production in tropical regions and southern France, and on scaling CA in West Africa through access to an adapted mechanization and concerted territory development.
Mohammed Esmaeil Asadi
Mohammed Esmaeli Asadi is a retired senior research scientist of Golestan Agricultural and Natural Resources Research and Education Center in Gorgan, Iran, with over 33 years of experience in the area of development and technology transfer to Iranian farmers. Beginning in 2005, he started to focus on the development of conservation agriculture (CA) crop management technologies with an emphasis on permanent raised-bed planting and zero-till planting systems for irrigated and rainfed production systems. He organized 1,000 training courses and workshops for over 15 years and published more than 10 books about the optimal management of water in agricultural farms as well as the development and promotion of CA. In 2010, he was assigned the function of CA trainer for all provinces by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Guillermo Augusto de Araujo
Guillermo Augusto de Araujo is an agricultural engineer with 40 years of experience in farm machinery design and field testing, and has headed research projects on conservation agriculture (CA) machinery for small- and medium-scale farms in southern Brazil and Latin America. He has actively participated in the development and evaluation of soil contact tools for no-till seeders and planters, and new machinery for cover crops and residue management aimed to improve the quality of CA. He has also been working on disseminating and training farmers and technical staff on conservation agriculture machinery selection, operation and maintenance through lectures, scientific articles, books and courses.
Valdemar Hercilio de Freitas
An extensionist and conservation agriculture promoter from the very early times of the development of direct seeding in Brazil, Valdemar Hercilio de Freitas supported national and international projects and was particularly active in merging conservation agriculture with organic farming.
Rafael Fuentes Llanillo
With a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics at ESALQ - USP (1984) and a doctorate degree in agronomy at Universidade Estadual de Londrina - UEL (2007), Rafael Fuentes Llanillo’s worked as a researcher between 1979-2018 at Instituto Agronomico do Parana in the socioeconomic area. One of his first tasks in 1980 was to participate in economic analysis of pioneer trials of comparison of no-tillage and conventional tillage in different crop rotations of annual crops. He concentrates on no-tillage systems and conservation agriculture with a special focus on indicators of sustainability in no-tillage systems and the economy of crop rotations. He has international experience as a FAO - UN consultant in conservation agriculture in Nicaragua, Cuba, Haiti and Bolivia. He is the author and co-author of several different articles and book chapters on conservation agriculture and the no-tillage system.
Brian Sims has been working on the promotion of conservation agricultural practices since working as a conservation agriculture (CA) mechanization consultant with FAO beginning in 2003. His focus has primarily been on smallholder production systems in sub-Saharan Africa, but he also works in Asia and Latin America. He has devised and delivered practical training courses for farmers, artisans, manufacturers and extension workers on the design, application and field use of CA mechanization options for smallholder farmers. He has also organized and led a technical training visit for East African entrepreneurs to manufacturers in Brazil and Paraguay. He has written extensively on his experiences and has co-authored several book chapters on CA mechanization at all levels in sub-Saharan Africa.
As an agronomist with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Patrick Wall helped start conservation agriculture research in Paraguay and was active in increasing the awareness of conservation agriculture (CA) throughout the southern cone of South America. Working closely with the Oilseeds Producers Association (ANAPO) in Bolivia, he helped catalyze the adoption of CA in the eastern plains, where today it covers over 90% of the area. He also helped initiate CA research efforts in Kazakhstan, brought CIMMYT’s agronomy efforts in southern Africa to focus on CA and was instrumental in making CA a priority in CIMMYT’s global efforts.
Manoel Henrique Nonô Pereira (deceased)
Manoel Henrique Nonô Pereira was one of the three most remarkable Brazilian No-Tillage pioneer farmers. In 1976 at Agripastos Farm in Palmeira, Parana State, Brazil, he helped establish 20 hectares of soybeans in no-till, and after that experience, he never stopped. Nonô Pereira was a tireless person in spreading the no-till system around the world. He organized hundreds of lectures and field visits showing why the no-till system provided a solid basis for achieving sustainable agriculture. He left an enormous legacy in Brazilian and American agriculture and all over the world. Shortly before his death, he received the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the State University of Ponta Grossa. At that ceremony, he said it was the first diploma and recognition of the academy that he had been awarded. Although the knowledge, dissemination and improvement of no-tillage had help from countless people and institutions in different places and times, Nonô Pereira has been highlighted as an emblematic figure in the adoption of no-till. Nonô Pereira was always ready to extend his experiences and answer doubts to fellow producers, researchers and technical assistants from different backgrounds in different regions and countries. Founder and four-time president of FEBRAPDP, the Brazilian No-Till System Farmers’ Federation (1996, 1998, 2000 and 2008), founder and two-time president of CAAPAS, the American Confederation of Sustainable Agriculture Farmers’ Associations (1998-2002), Nonô Pereira became the eternal ambassador of the no-tillage system and conservation agriculture. Nonô Pereira received countless honours and titles that will never be enough to fully recognize his work. There is still a Museum of No-Tillage on his farm meticulously maintained by his son, Manoel Henrique Pereira Junior.
This Brazilian agronomist worked on development and consolidation of the no-till sowing techniques on levees infrastructure in the late 1980s that led to the advancement of direct sowing of irrigated rice in Brazil. As coordinator of the No-Till Rice Planting Association, Ivo Mello was also co-founder of the Brazilian No-Till Federation (FEBRAPDP) in 1992. Using principles of IPM and conservation agriculture, he produced the first certified organic rice in Brazil. As president of FEBRAPDP, in 2003 he co-organized the second World Congress on conservation agriculture in Foz do Iguaçu/Brazil. From 2009 to 2018, he represented irrigating farmers in the National Water Resources Council. In partnership with Itaipu Binacional within the Cultivating Good Water Program, he was project leader for the development of a quality index system for conservation agriculture. Since 2014, he has worked at IRGA with research, validation and technological extension for farmers in the region.
Miguel Carballal (deceased)
He was a farmer, founder and president of AUSID, the Uruguayan Association of No-Till Farmers, and was highly engaged in promoting no-tillage and conservation agriculture.
He served as the president of FEPASIDIAS (Paraguayan Federation of No Till for Sustainable Agriculture), and in 2022, he organized the most important event of conservation agriculture (CA) in Paraguay, with more than 420 people, and gave many talks on CA events in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina about experiences and research on conservation practices in Paraguay. He participated very actively with CAAPAS in his role as agronomist, engineer, director and researcher of the consulting firm NUESTROSUELO S.A. He is working on the introduction of cover crops in rotations with soybean, corn and sorghum in rice fields (hydromorphic soils) with excellent results.
Ken Moriya served as the director of the National Soils Program for the Soil Conservation Project, which started in 1993 and ended 2001, and was supported by CAPECO the Grains Chamber of Paraguay. Moriya was also co-founder of FEPASIDIAS, the Federation of No-Till farmers of Paraguay. Moriya´s goal was to achieve the highest percent of no-till adoption in the world, despite only starting massive adoption in 1983.
An agronomist who, from the beginning of his career and for the last 45 years, was actively and directly engaged in farming operations as a farmer and an agricultural production agronomy engineer advisor and operations manager. He continues to advise and actively design and monitor the everyday farm practical implementation of conservation agriculture by means of using the no-till system operations as a new paradigm on around 10,000 hectares located in different parts of Argentina and Uruguay. He’s doing similar activities in several other countries and continents around the globe as a collaborator with private companies and, in some opportunities, in synergy with official institutions.
Jeff Tullberg is an Australian engineer who promoted no-till farming systems combined with controlled traffic systems since the development of related technologies. Particularly in China, his collaboration started the work on no-till farming systems in the early 1990s. The work he did on tractor performance in the 1970s prompted his curiosity about the fate of all the energy wasted in traction, leading to preliminary attempts to control field traffic. The initial outcome was a demonstration of the fuel saving potential in the 1980s, followed by a more thorough demonstration of the soil infiltration/runoff and crop performance benefits in the 1990s. This later work was carried out as part of a collaborative tillage/traffic impact project with China Agricultural University. Combining conservation agriculture with controlled traffic systems, he demonstrated how the symbiotic combination of controlled traffic and no-till can reduce denitrification losses and nitrous oxide emissions from grain cropping, reduce erosion and improve most indicators of soil health, ultimately increasing grain yields and reducing costs in large-scale grain production.
Masanobu Fukuoka (deceased)
Masanobu Fukuoka was a Japanese agronomist who started thinking about and questioning the conventional way of tillage-based agriculture in the 1940s in Japan. In the 1970s, he published the book “One Straw Revolution,” which describes a cropping system that very much resembles conservation agriculture. He later retired onto an organic fruit farm and was promoting cropping systems close to nature. Together with Edward Faulkner, they could be considered as the originators of the idea of no-till farming.
Lucien Séguy (deceased)
Séguy was a French agronomist and pedologist of the Centre de Coopération International en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD). He started his career in Sénégal and Cameroon before working on projects with his CIRAD colleague Serge Bouzinac in Brazil. In the early 1980s, starting from the dominant practices in Cerrados regions of soybean monocropping on shallow disc tillage, he first showed that sole no-tillage allows for set field crop production on a sustainable basis. Then, guided by the evergreen forest model, he conceived and developed a large range of direct seeding mulch-based cropping systems (DMC) with intensified biomass inputs and the inclusion of secondary crop named Safrinha, associated cover/fodder crops and the inclusion of “multi-functional” cover crops. He is one of the key people in the transfer of no-till from subtropical to tropical regions and its transformation into conservation agriculture. He also animated a network of agronomists and farmers, guiding an active transfer and adaptation process to southern (Africa, Southeast Asia, South America) and northern (France, east Canada) agroecosystems.
Mekhlis Suleymanov is a highly decorated scientist from Kazakhstan who was instrumental for the scientific backing and policy support in the promotion of conservation agriculture in central Asian countries.
Mushtaq Ahmad Gill
Mushtaq Ahmad Gill is the executive director of the South Asian Conservation Agriculture Network (SACAN) with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from West Pakistan Agricultural University in 1971 and master’s degree in soil and water engineering from Colorado State University in 1976. He started his career with the agriculture department and retired as director of general on-farm water management in Punjab-Pakistan in 2008. He is among the pioneers in the South Asia region for the indigenizing and diffusion of LASER Land Levelling Technology, which served as a precursor and a gateway to climate resilient conservation agriculture. He is the founder of South Asian Conservation Agriculture Network (SACAN) established in 2001. He has executed different conservation agriculture research, capacity building, and consultancy projects in collaboration with different CGIAR centers such as CIMMYT, ICARDA IRRI, IWMI, FAO, IUCN, USAID and NZAID. He has successfully implemented the agriculture service provider model for diffusion of LASER land levelling, zero tillage, residue management, raised bed planting, and other resource conservation technologies in the Indus Basin. There are more than 25,000 trained village-level agriculture service providers in Pakistan providing conservation agriculture equipment rental services to more than 1 million smallholder farmers on about 3.0 MHA. In recognition of his meritorious services in water resources management and conservation agriculture, a civil award (Tamgha-i-Imtiaz) was given to Gill by the President of Pakistan in 2008.
Ulrich Zink is a German pioneer farmer with 20 years of experience in conservation agriculture. Not only is he actively doing on-farm research to optimize the no-till system and apply innovative technologies, but he is also sharing his experience in lectures, presentations and online interviews promoting conservation agriculture in Germany.
Ari Koutonen is a Finnish entrepreneur who owns an agricultural machinery company. After seeing the successful no-till experiences of the Finnish no-till pioneer farmer Esa Eela, he decided to produce his own no-till seed drills — known as the Real Direct Seeding Drills — and put them on the market which led to a boom in the spread of minimum till, no-till and conservation agriculture in Finland. In the early 2000s, Finland became the leading country in Europe for the percentage of cropland under conservation agriculture (CA). Koutonen promoted conservation agriculture in Finland and Europe with information campaigns, research on the environmental benefits of CA and as president of the Finnish Conservation Agriculture Association (FICA).
Antonio & Claudio Vella
These two Italian brothers were farming in central Italy under difficult conditions with heavy stony soils and steep slopes. In the 1990s, they decided to change to no-till, but they were not satisfied with the available no-till seed drills on the market and founded their own seed drill manufacturing company. In the early 2000s after a visit to Argentina, they optimized their technology and are now one of the few European manufacturers of true no-till seeders contributing to the successful uptake of conservation agriculture in Italy.
Volodymyr Khorishko & Sergey Prokayev
The two co-owners and co-directors of Agro-Soyuz in Ukraine, Khorishko and Prokayev had the opportunity in 2001 to visit farms along the Missouri River in the state of South Dakota. Dwayne Beck, manager of the Dakota Lakes Research Farm in Pierre, S.D., facilitated the farm visits to long-term no-tillers who were implementing a systems approach to conservation agriculture. Their goal was to identify means by which to reduce costs resulting from the tillage practices on the 7,000 hectares of land they were leasing from the villagers and land shareholders in the steppes of Ukraine. Arriving in the Northern Plains of the U.S. after a multi-year drought allowed them to observe crops growing in no-till fields adjacent to crops wilting in fields where aggressive soil tillage was evident. Even before departing the South Dakota farmland, Khorishko called his farm manager in Ukraine and instructed him to immediately cease all soil tillage. What followed was an intensive learning process for the crop production department at Agro-Soyuz Ukraine to implement a systems approach to conservation agriculture.
Neonila Martyniuk moved from the U.S. to Ukraine in 1991 and was employed by Agro-Soyuz Ukraine starting in 1999. He was tasked with connecting to all regions of the world where successful systems approaches to conservation agriculture were being implemented. Global connections were made via on-farm site travels to North America, Europe, New Zealand, Argentina and Brazil as well as active participation in conservation agriculture conferences and annual organizing of International Sustainable Agricultural conferences.
John Landers is a research agronomist from England who conducted research in the Savannas of Brazil, known in Brazil as Cerrados. The Cerrados is a huge biome in central Brazil with sandy, acidic and poor soils that can be made productive in a relatively short time by investing mainly in lime and phosphorus under a conservation agriculture system. The sandy soils require cover crops and crop rotations for sustained productivity.
Olivier Husson is a French agronomist and agroecologist with the research unit on conservation agriculture (AIDA) at CIRAD (French Centre for International Cooperation on Agricultural Research for Development), based in Montpellier, France. He has worked for 30 years coordinating research, training and extension under various agroecological conditions in Africa (Madagascar, Benin and Côte d'Ivoire) and Southeast Asia (Vietnam), co-designing and testing with farmers’ different agroecological systems and techniques based on direct seeding on permanent soil cover. Since 2010, his approach to soil health and plant health has been based on understanding the key roles of Eh (redox potential) and pH homeostasis in soil systems.
Florent Tivet is a French agronomist from CIRAD (French Centre for International Cooperation on Agricultural Research for Development). Within a R&D team created by Lucien Séguy, he has been working on co-designing conservation agriculture-based cropping systems for rice and annual upland crops. He has been working for almost 20 years in Southeast Asia (Laos and Cambodia), and he has collaborated with João Carlos de Moraes Sá on research activities related to soil organic carbon dynamics.
Peter HobbsPeter Hobbs worked withInternational Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in South Asia from 1980-2002. He imported a no-till seed drill from Aitchison Industries in New Zealand in the 1980s with the U.K.'s Department for International Development funding to overcome problems of late-planted wheat in Pakistan. Soon after, Peter and Terry Woodhead (IRRI) created the rice-wheat consortium that successfully linked South Asian countries with CGIAR centers to tackle rice-wheat cropping issues, including the promotion of no-till systems in South Asia. Peter continued to catalyze no-till in rice-wheat conservation agriculture (CA) systems until 2002, when he returned to Cornell in U.S. The work has continued with the national program stakeholders (administrators, scientists, farmers, machinery makers and more) to where it is now an accepted technology in CA-based rice-wheat and other cropping systems. Peter continues to promote CA from Cornell through a monthly Scoopit CA research newsletter.
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