Carol Sanders | UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Representatives from West Africa will visit Arkansas June 22-28 as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Office of International Programs and Studies (OIPS).
The representatives are partners with UAPB in its Global River Basin Initiative funded by the NIFA grant “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.”
Members of the West African delegation are from Rivers State, Nigeria, and Dakar-Fann, Senegal, in the Niger River Basin of West Africa, an area similar to the Arkansas Delta. Delegation members include government and state agency officials, educators, and leaders of non-governmental organizations.
OIPS, through its three-year capacity grant, is working to advance institutional relationships in West Africa with the goal of strengthening UAPB’s international programming and create more study abroad educational opportunities for UAPB students.
UAPB has partnered with the Rivers State and Dakar-Fann areas because of the similarity of their geographical location in delta basin areas.
The grant supports activities consistent with its three main objectives. One is the establishment of a working group reflective of the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences academic programs that include both scholarly and experiential learning activities focusing on global trends and developments that impact the agricultural sector and rural communities in the Lower Mississippi River Basin.
The second objective is to establish a faculty led study abroad program incorporating topics relevant to agriculture, environmental sciences and rural development. Objective three calls for the establishment of a sustainable international Extension program through working partnerships, a memorandum of understanding and funding and technical assistance for a multi-stakeholder rural development project in the Niger River Basin.
A needs assessment has been completed in Senegal and Nigeria to assess agriculture and rural development programs serving women, youth and subsistence farmers in rural areas, audiences traditional served by UAPB.
“A working group has been established and institutional relationships are being cemented. After the visit by the delegation, we will continue moving forward toward grant objectives,” says Dr. Pamela D. Moore, associate director for global engagement and project director. “The next step is in moving forward is the implementation of a rural demonstration initiative in Rivers State, Nigeria.”
While in Arkansas, the delegation will visit Heifer International Headquarters, the Clinton School of Public Service and the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock; tour UAPB research projects and venues, and interact with UAPB and regionally-based researchers.
Wednesday will be devoted to visiting and learning how Arkansas Delta projects were developed and function including the East Arkansas Enterprise Community, Marvell Community Gardens, Seven Harvest in Forrest City and the UAPB Agriculture Demonstration Outreach Center in Marianna.
The delegates will also visit projects on the Mississippi side of the Delta before heading back to UAPB to finalize details of the rural demonstration project that will commence implementation by September.
“I am truly excited about the possibilities that will unfold as we move forward with this novel capacity building project made possible by USDA,” says Moore. “This initiative allows us to explore globalizing trends and their impact upon our institution, taking into account our land-grant designation and history of service to rural communities in the Lower Mississippi River Basin.