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UF students win grants for projects that aid farmers in developing countries

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida graduate students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences were awarded seven grants for projects that help farmers in developing countries address horticultural marketing and production.

The University of Florida is a consortium member of the Horticulture Innovation Lab, one of 24 Innovation Labs funded by USAID Feed the Future to advance novel solutions that reduce global hunger, poverty and undernutrition, said Kathleen Colverson, associate director of UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Global. The population on Earth is expected to grow to nine billion by the year 2050, and researchers are trying to find a way to feed everyone.

UF/IFAS graduate students apply to the Trellis Fund, a competitive program hosted by the University of California-Davis, and designed to connect organizations in developing countries with U.S. graduate students who have agricultural expertise. “Together students and organizations collaborate on short-term projects to address challenges faced by local farmers,” Colverson said. “Those challenges include horticultural production, pest management, soil fertility and postharvest practices, among other things.”

This year, there were 60 applications from 29 students at four educational institutions that are also consortium members. Students applied to participate in projects in Ghana, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Nepal.

UF/IFAS CALS graduate students won seven of the 14 projects funded.

Selected students work remotely with the organization as consultants on projects for a minimum of 100 hours, Colverson said. Students spend two weeks in the target country, she said.

“This gives students a chance to better understand local situations and execute parts of the project,”Colverson said. “Farmers get expert knowledge to address any issues they may have in their fields, and students get hands-on experience. That way everyone benefits from the program.”

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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

 

 

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