Twenty three Tanzanian students who were sponsored to study agriculture and nutrition in different universities in the United States and Africa, have kick-started their research phase which is aimed at accelerating the country’s agricultural revolution. The students are sponsored by the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Feed the Future Initiative (FtF), and implemented by the Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI).
The students who are doing their Masters studies in agricultural-related subjects, have been studying at universities in the United States, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Tanzania. The trainees who came together for an orientation session over the week at the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Morogoro, made brief presentations on their research proposals and how their research will benefit the agricultural sector in Tanzania.
Speaking during the occasion, iAGRI’s Project Director Prof. David Kraybill reminded the students that they were selected because of their past performances and what they can do to help the country in the future, and therefore they are expected to work hard and be leaders.
“The leadership that I am talking about is not necessarily administrative leadership, rather it is doing research that is of very high standards and taking steps to make sure that it positively affects the lives of the people,” he explained, adding that if the research conducted will not have an effect on the country, then it will be useless.
Prof. Kraybill told the returned students that while a lot of people have invested in them, the expectation is that they (the students) have to work hard to improve the lives of the people of Tanzania, so that the country could benefit in its agricultural revolution efforts, as well as ensuring food security.
During their study period at the universities, the students specialized in various topics such as: Plant Protection, Agricultural Extension, Horticulture, Plant Biotechnology, Crop Science, Agribusiness, Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural Economics, Agronomy, Aqua Culture, Crop Protection, and Food Science.
This is the third cohort of Tanzanian students to be sponsored under iAGRI. The first cohort of six students started their Master’s degree studies in 2011 and completed in 2013, and the second cohort, involved 48 Master’s degree and PhD students who began their studies in 2012, and those doing their Master’s degree are completing this year. The fourth cohort of 47 students have just began their studies and are expected to complete in 2016.
The Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI) is a USAID-funded project to prepare the next generation of agricultural and nutrition leaders and strengthen and integrate the core institutions of agricultural research, education, and extension in Tanzania. Ohio State University (OSU) is the managing entity for a consortium of six US universities including Michigan State, Virginia Tech, Tuskegee University, University of Florida, and Iowa State University. Key partners in Tanzania include the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives (MAFC). The project aims to prepare faculty, researchers, and extension practitioners in Tanzania to cooperatively and effectively address needs of smallholder farmers and the growing agribusiness sector and to improve food security for decades to come.