US grants $7.3m to groom agri scientists in Bangladesh, Africa

The Michigan State University (MSU) has secured over $7 million grant from the US government to groom agricultural scientists in Bangladesh and four African countries, aiming to improve food security and nutrition.

The training is under what the MSU calls the Borlaug Higher Education Agricultural Research and Development programme which is named after Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug. The money comes from the US Agency for International Development.

“Michigan State University says it's receiving a $7.3 million federal grant to help develop the next generation of agricultural scientists in Africa and Asia,” says a recent AP report.

The programme will begin in Ghana, Uganda, Mali, Mozambique and Bangladesh and may expand elsewhere. Eric Crawford and Frederik Derksen will head the effort.

In a statement August 6, 2012, the MSU said as part of the US Feed the Future initiative, the programme will strengthen agricultural research institutions and support long-term training of agricultural researchers at the master’s- and doctoral-degree levels.

“MSU faculty is well versed in planning, designing and managing training and human capacity-building programmes, especially in plant breeding, food science and food security, which are key areas of Feed the Future,” said Eric Crawford, professor of agricultural, food and resource economics at the university.

The MSU explained that the five countries have similar priorities – increase agricultural productivity; reduce trade and transportation barriers; develop sound market-based principles for agriculture; accelerate rural growth and development; and improve nutrition.

“Starting in fall 2013, the first cohort of students will comprise 30 master’s degree candidates and 10 doctoral degree candidates,” Crawford said indicating since women remain underrepresented in agricultural research, the MSU-designed programme will be gender inclusive.

Educational institutions haven’t yet been chosen, but will be those that focus on research, education and outreach in agriculture, Crawford said.

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