UAPB reaching out to Senegal and Nigeria to globalize academic programs

Bobbie Handcock, | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences         

Senegal Dr Garner w rice pic 1

Dr. James O. Garner Jr., right, dean of the UAPB School of Agriculture Fisheries and Human Sciences, looks at rice produced by growers in Senegal.

PINE BLUFF, Ark.  – The Office of International Programs and Studies (OIPS) at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is striving to diversify and globalize academic programs through a three-year capacity building grant. The office, which is within the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences (SAFHS), received the funding from the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“OIPS aims to work collaboratively with SAFHS and the broader university community to create a niche in international programming,” said Dr. Pamela D. Moore, associate director for global engagement. “Such a strategy takes into account UAPB’s land-grant designation, its commitment to historically disadvantaged communities, and its geographical location in the Lower Mississippi River Basin.”

The grant-funded project is entitled,  “From the Mississippi Delta to the Niger Delta:  Strengthening Teaching and Extension Capacity at UAPB to Enhance International Programming in a Changing and Dynamic Local, Regional and Global Context.”

This grant funds the first phase of a global river basin initiative and focuses on Senegal and Nigeria. OIPS wants to complement on-going recruitment and retention initiatives, and position students and faculty to make important and useful contributions in the global arena, Dr. Moore said.

“There’s a tremendous opportunity for UAPB to contribute meaningfully to a range of agricultural initiatives in both Senegal and Nigeria,” said Dr. James O. Garner Jr., dean of the UAPB School of Agriculture Fisheries and Human Sciences.

A needs assessment has been completed in Senegal and Nigeria, launching a component of the grant which calls for strengthening international Extension capacity within SAFHS. Dr. Moore and co-principal investigators, Dr. Garner and Dr. Edmund R. Buckner, associate dean of SAFHS, traveled to the two countries this fall.

“The purpose was to assess agriculture and rural development programs serving disadvantaged youth, women and subsistence farmers in rural areas,” Dr. Buckner said. “We also wanted to get feedback on project goals and objectives outlined in the grant.”

In Dakar, Senegal, the team held a project orientation session with the director and staff of Wetlands International Africa, the coordinating partner in Senegal.

The team later traveled to Saint-Louis, Senegal where they met with organizations including the Centre Interprofessionnel pour la Formation aux Métiers de L’Agriculture (CIFA) which conducts training and technical assistance programs for rural farmers in the Senegal River basin. The team also visited two agriculture research institutes and met with faculty and academic officials of Gaston Berger University (GBU).

“One immediate outcome was the decision to move forward in executing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between UAPB and BGU,” Dr. Moore said. The team traveled to Port Harcourt in Nigeria where they met with the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, governor of Rivers State; made site visits to the Ministry of Youth Development, the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency; the Rivers State University of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Women Affairs.

UAPB officials say the next step is to complete the needs assessment report and begin preparations for an exchange visit by overseas partners in 2014. They also want to establish a working group reflective of SAFHS and other academic programs to engage in scholarly and experiential learning focused on agriculture and rural communities in the Lower Mississippi River Basin. Another objective is to establish a faculty-led study abroad program focusing on food, agriculture and environmental sciences.

For more information about the OIPS capacity building grant, contact Dr. Pamela D. Moore at moorep@uapb.edu or 870-575-8195. You may also contact Claudette Romious, project program specialist, at romiousc@uapb.edu or 870-575-7183.

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