Ohio State receives USAID grant to boost agriculture, food security in Tanzania

The five-year grant will boost the training and research capabilities of Tanzania's National Agricultural Research System and Sokoine University of Agriculture -- the chief institution of higher learning, research and outreach for the agricultural and food industry in this country.

Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) has been awarded a $24 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve agricultural productivity and food security in the East African nation of Tanzania.

The “Tanzania Agricultural Research and Capacity Building Project” involves a consortium of four other U.S. land-grant universities under Ohio State’s leadership: Michigan State University, Tuskegee University, the University of Florida and Virginia Tech. The grant was announced in late February.

The project is part of the U.S. government’s Feed the Future (FTF) initiative, which seeks to address the root causes of global hunger by sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and advancing global stability and prosperity. A nation of 35 million people, half of whom live in poverty, Tanzania — whose economy is largely dependent on agriculture — has been identified as a priority country for the FTF initiative.

“With global population exploding, and new uses for the crops we grow, this grant is critical for addressing poverty and hunger in this part of the world,” said Bobby Moser, Ohio State’s vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES. “This grant validates Ohio State’s knowledge and tools for improving global food security and contributing to poverty alleviation and hunger reduction worldwide.”

The five-year grant will boost the training and research capabilities of Tanzania’s National Agricultural Research System and Sokoine University of Agriculture — the chief institution of higher learning, research and outreach for the agricultural and food industry in this country.

“This project will help educate the next generation of agricultural and nutrition scientists in Tanzania with the aim of ensuring food security and improving household livelihoods,” said Mark Erbaugh, the grant’s principal investigator and director of Ohio State’s Office of International Programs in Agriculture. “Funding available for this project will allow us to expand our collaborative research, graduate training and outreach activities in the country and make a lasting impact. Food producers in Tanzania and the United States face similar challenges, and the solutions generated by this project will benefit food producers and consumers in Tanzania, Ohio and the rest of the world.”

A key outcome of the project will be the strengthening of Tanzania’s capabilities in agriculture and nutrition in the region, achieved in part through the training of 100 M.S. and 20 Ph.D. students from that country. The project will also address growing private-sector needs in food production, processing, marketing and distribution.

“OSU’s core academic strengths in research and graduate education overlap perfectly with Tanzania’s need to develop a cadre of biological and social scientists capable of conducting world-class research on food security,” said David Kraybill, co-principal investigator for the project and a professor in Ohio State’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics.

According to Erbaugh, Ohio State has over the past 10 years laid the foundation for an endeavor of this scope and size through several agricultural research projects carried out in collaboration with Tanzanian partners. Examples of Ohio State’s involvement in Tanzania include value-chain assessments of new markets for sorghum and millet, integrated pest management research on high-value horticultural crops, capacity building for plant disease diagnostics, climate adaptation research on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and graduate training opportunities for emerging scientists.

In addition to Tanzania, CFAES has managed international development, research and outreach projects in many other sub-Saharan nations, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Swaziland, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia.

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