Will Hehemann | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
Two University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff students spent much of the summer learning firsthand about agriculture practices in the country of Guyana. Chelsea Robinson, a senior regulatory science major, and Ashlyn Carlton, a sophomore animal science major, both earned credit hours in a program that included site visits to higher education, nonprofit, government research and Extension facilities.
“Guyana is geographically situated in northern South America, but is culturally and politically aligned with the Caribbean region,” Iris Crosby, the students’ advisor for the Student Education Abroad Program, said. “In addition to learning about the history and culture of Guyana, the students were also able to interact with local farmers and other partners involved in a UAPB project that seeks to strengthen sweet potato production in Guyana while building teaching, applied research and international Extension capacity at UAPB.”
One of the UAPB project’s main objectives is the production of high quality, virus-tested sweet potato seed materials for Guyanese farmers through the establishment of a virus-indexing laboratory in Guyana, she said. The project is intended to facilitate both study abroad internships for UAPB undergraduates and thesis research opportunities for graduate students of the Department of Agriculture.
The students’ itinerary included a visit to the Ministry of Agriculture, where they met with Noel Holder, Minister of Agriculture for Guyana. During the meeting with Minister Holder, the students learned about local techniques used to plant and propagate sweet potatoes, as well as methods to acquire high-quality seed stocks that produce higher yields. The practices the students learned about could potentially be applied to the production practices used by small farmers in Arkansas, Crosby said.
Robinson said meeting with the Minister of Agriculture was a highlight of the educational program.
“Our meeting with Minister Holder was even featured on Guyana’s national news channel,” she said. “It was a very humbling experience.”
Robinson and Carlton also visited the two leading organizations that provide technical assistance to the Guyana agricultural sector, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. They learned about both organizations’ attempts to alleviate poverty and undernourishment in Guyana.
On their educational visit to Guyana, the students were accompanied by other UAPB representatives including Crosby and Shaun Francis, UAPB Extension horticulturist and native of Georgetown, Guyana, as well as Kelvin Craig, a representative of the Partners of the Americas Guyana Chapter.