A group of high-ranking Senegalese agricultural officials visited CANR and UConn September 23-25 as part of the Executive Leadership and Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems Study Tour. The 23 men and women on the tour were university rectors, policy advisors, business leaders and community organizers.
The tour was part of the United States Agency for International Development program entitled Education and Research in Agriculture (USAID/ERA). The program aims to benefit key Senegalese institutions that conduct research and training in the agricultural sciences.
CANR-related events included a session at the College with Dean Gregory Weidemann and the associate deans, a visit to the Tolland County Extension Center, an overview of the Sea Grant Program at the Avery Point campus and a stop at the UConn Dairy Bar.
A few months before the trip, Boris Bravo-Ureta, the UConn USAID/ERA principal investigator and a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, went to Dakar, Senegal to guide the Senegalese participants in determining their priorities for the tour. The resulting UConn schedule reflected those interests. In addition to time spent at the College, the group had sessions where they learned about the Technology Incubator Program (TIP), Information Technology and the UConn Foundation from top administrators in those programs.
The tour is one part of a larger relationship between UConn and Senegal’s agricultural leaders. “This program gives UConn and me an opportunity to make a significant contribution to economic development in Senegal. It builds on a 20-year relationship with the country,” Bravo-Ureta said.
This year, USAID/ERA funds brought three new Senegalese graduate students to the College. Two of them are working with Bravo-Ureta in agricultural production economics. The other student is studying GIS-based technology for the inventory and management of Senegal’s crops with Professor Daniel Civco in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment.
UConn belongs to a USAID/ERA:Senegal consortium that collaborates with agricultural institutions across Senegal in order to foster agricultural productivity growth and poverty reduction. The four other U.S. universities in the consortium are Michigan State, Purdue, Tuskegee and Virginia Tech, which is the institutional leader of the project.
According to a USAID/ERA website maintained by Virginia Tech, 75 percent of the Senegalese people work in agriculture, and yet the country still needs to import 70 percent of the rice it consumes. Revitalization of agriculture in Senegal “is critical to getting the country on a secure footing in its ability to feed itself,” the website says. Hopefully, time spent at UConn supported the Senegalese delegation in their revitalization efforts at home.
By Patsy Evans