Michigan State University food security experts tapped for $28 million project in Senegal
Published: Friday, 15 Oct 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University researchers, and researchers from four partnering institutions, will use a $28 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development to bolster agricultural education and research systems in Senegal, in hopes of increasing food supply and improving nutrition.
The five-university consortium will work with four Senegalese universities and five training centers as part of the Capacity Building for Agricultural Education and Research (CBAER) project. The project will draw on the core principles of MSU's land grant model to build human capacity in the Senegalese institutions responsible for agricultural education, innovation and outreach.
Partnering U.S. universities include Purdue, Tuskegee, University of Connecticut and Virginia Tech, which will serve as the management unit for the five-year program.
CBAER is part of the U.S. government's Feed the Future Initiative, an effort to address the underlying causes of hunger malnutrition around the world.
"When the price for basic foods, such as rice, skyrocketed in 2007, it was a warning sign of the strains faced by a planet of 6.6 billion people," said Brent Simpson, associate professor in MSU's Institute of International Agriculture. "At that time food riots were seen in at least 11 African countries, causing the donor community to refocus interest in addressing the root cause of food insecurity around the world."
A project management office will be set up in Dakar, Senegal, where operations will be based.
While 75 percent of Senegal's 13 million people are employed in the agricultural sector, the country still imports 70 percent of its rice and 60 percent of the total food consumed, Simpson said.
Simpson noted that MSU's long involvement in Senegal was helpful in securing the grant. In addition to the CBAER project, MSU is entering the third year of assisting with a $64 million USAID Economic Growth Project in Senegal. The emphasis of that project is to boost agricultural productivity of Senegal's primary staple crops: rice, millet, maize and sorghum.
Under this project Simpson and more than 14 MSU researchers are:
- Developing Senegal's commercial seed system
- Improving cross-border trade with Mali
- Establishing market information capabilities, commodity grades and standards
- Enhancing the agricultural statistics and monitoring capabilities
- Exploring potentials of producing biofuels
- Developing market-oriented university degree and training programs.
MSU faculty has been involved in agricultural capacity-building in Senegal for more than 35 years, beginning with the Sahel Masters' Program developed in 1976. Most recently, MSU's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources invested funds to support a joint bio-economy initiative with the Université Cheikh Anta Diop. Additionally, MSU is helping the West Africa Research Network launch a new program on remote sensing, an evolving technology that is contributing to the studies of the human dimension of environmental change. Simpson is collaborating with David Skole, MSU professor of forestry and researcher in remote sensing and geographical information systems on this program.