VENTURES AFRICA – America’s Michigan State University has received a $7.3 million grant that will be channelled towards building the capacity of agricultural scientists in Africa as the continent struggles to achieve food security.
The project dubbed Borlaug Higher Education Agricultural Research and Development after Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug, will begin in Ghana, Uganda, Mali, Mozambique as well as Bangladesh in Asia.
African countries are struggling to feed its people amidst a fast growing population coupled with poor rainfalls, lack of new technologies in farming, rise in food prices and civil wars. In Senegal, for instance 850,000 people are suffering severe food shortages. Other than Senegal, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Gambia are also facing food shortage.
The program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau for Food Security will strengthen agricultural research institutions and support long-term training of agricultural researchers at the master’s- and doctoral-degree levels.
According to Eric Crawford, professor of agricultural, food and resource economics, the five countries have similar priorities seeking to increase agricultural productivity, reduce trade and transportation barriers, develop sound market-based principles for agriculture, accelerate rural growth and development and improving nutrition.
The project is part of Feed the Future, the US government’s global hunger and food security initiative, which aims at strengthening agricultural research institutions and support long-term training of agricultural researchers at the master’s- and doctoral-degree levels.
“MSU (Michigan State University) has 50-plus years of engagement in Africa, and we are currently managing several Master of Science and Ph.D. training programs whose objectives and program design are similar to those of this initiative. MSU faculty is well versed in planning, designing and managing training and human capacity-building programs, especially in plant breeding, food science and food security, which are key areas of Feed the Future.
The program which will kick off in 2013, will comprise of 30 master’s degree candidates and 10 doctoral degree candidates in its first cohort.
Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron is set to host the “hunger summit’ next week to coincide with the closing day of the Olympics. The event is expected to attract world leaders, NGOs and leading business people to brainstorm on ways of reducing hunger which faces over a billion people worldwide.
Image via wku.edu