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Building a Partnership in Brazil

A small group of administrators from Federal University of Lavras (UFLA) in Brazil filed into the UF/IFAS Institute for Sustainable Food Systems meeting space Thursday morning. Greeting them was Dr. Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agricultural and natural resources. It was the kick-off for discussions on building a new partnership in Brazil between UFLA and UF/IFAS.

Dr. Pedro Sanchez (right) introduces Dr. Jack Payne (left) to discuss a possible UF/IFAS partnership with UFLA.

“Lavras and UF/IFAS are a great match,” Payne said. “The men and women of our universities have the talent to address the problems around food security and that’s why a strong partnership between the two is so important.”

Dr. Pedro Sanchez brought the two sides together for this event. Sanchez, a World Food Prize laureate, is a research professor of tropical soils in the Soil and Water Sciences Department. He also is a core faculty member of the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems.

“This is a great opportunity to link our university with one of the top Brazilian universities in agricultural and natural resource sciences,” Sanchez said. “This is part of a new internationalization strategy that UFLA is pursuing focused on food security.”

Dr. Antonio Chalful, Jr., director of the UFLA International Affairs Office, highlights the university’s degree programs.

UFLA is a roughly six-hour drive north of Rio de Janeiro. It was founded as an agricultural school in 1908 and became a public university in 1963. It has 78 degree programs, offering 23 doctoral and 33 master’s degrees. Current enrollment is approximately 18,000 students. The UFLA administrators attending the meeting represented the international affairs office and the offices of the vice provost for graduate studies and for research.

“Brazil has a major role in ensuring food security – as well as fibers and renewable fuel – at the global level,” said Dr. Luiz Roberto Guilherme, a professor of soil science at UFLA. “Agriculture and agribusiness are important segments of the Brazilian economy, having contributed a quarter of the Brazilian GDP in 2017.”

Dr. Ramesh Reddy, coordinator of the distance education program in the Soil and Water Sciences Department, discusses possible enrollment of UFLA students in online courses.

UFLA new internationalization strategy is to consolidate current global partnerships and create new one with word-renowned universities and research centers. Administrators hope to improve training of faculty and students as well as the quality of current research into food security. UFLA is offering short or long-term sabbaticals for professors in Lavras, tuition-waived courses for international students to study there, and opportunities to partner on projects it has in Africa.