PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University’s work to help secure and improve agriculture in war-torn Afghanistan will continue with two new initiatives recently funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the U. S. Agency for International Development.
Working as part of a consortia led by the University of California-Davis, WSU will receive $3.12 million to help strengthen the Afghani extension system. It will receive an additional $895,500 from a project led by Purdue University to improve the skills of agriculture-oriented faculty members at Afghan colleges and universities.
“These new programs build on our efforts to build both human and institutional capacity from previous programs implemented through our department.,” said Chris Pannkuk, director of WSU’s International Research and Development in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences.
The Afghan Agricultural Extension Program is a three-year project intended to build the capacity of the Afghanistan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock extension service to deliver programs on the ground. WSU’s role in that project includes establishing training in the technical and management skills of Extension in high impact priority areas, such as improved wheat and grain storage, fresh market and processing value changes, use of legumes in grain crop rotation, protecting food production for high value urban markets, and livestock production for improved household health and well-being.
“We’ll also be working to establish an integrative communications model to ease the development of extension policy, management, training and information exchange with our Afghan stakeholders,” Pannkuk explained.
For the five-year “Strengthening Afghan Agricultural Faculties” project, WSU will conduct four primary activities, all aimed at helping develop faculty capacity, agronomy courses and curriculum, establishing labs and integrating them into educational programs, and developing ag production activities on student and research farms. Specifically, WSU faculty will:
- Develop a series of annual technical assistant/training workshops targeting course curriculum development, lab development, applied research and staff visits. The project calls for 10 visits by WSU faculty to Afghanistan – two each for each of the five project years. During those visits, they will meet with their Afghani counterparts and students.
- Provide graduate education to five Afghan faculty – two earning master’s degrees and three earning their doctoral degrees in agronomy
- Host a mid-career senior Afghan faculty member as a visiting scholar for four months each year.
WSU has had a working presence in Afghanistan for the past eight years, working in a variety of projects aimed at developing human and institutional capacity.