Eleven faculty members and administrators from the University of Gondar (UOG) in Ethiopia visited the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) on Thursday, November 14th as a part of Ohio State’s participation in the One Health Initiative. One Health supports collaborative research recognizing the intertwined relationships between animal health, human health, and the environment. Discussions with CFAES faculty and tours of the facilities were coordinated by the College’s Office of International Programs in Agriculture (IPA), whose mission is to support the globalization efforts of the College through international research, extension, and learning.
Dr. Mark Erbaugh, Director of IPA, received the delegation and delivered a presentation on agriculture in Ohio and how The Ohio State University, as a land grant institution, plays a pivotal role in supporting the agricultural and natural resources sector through academic instruction, research, and outreach. These comments were reiterated by Dr. Bruce McPheron, Vice President for Agricultural Administration and Dean of CFAES, who was also interested in the ambitions that the visitors from UOG had for their own departments, and how working collaboratively with OSU may help achieve those goals.
“I think you actually can learn a lot through strategic partnerships where you’re looking at the same problems from different perspectives”, shared Dr. McPheron. He added that he was delighted to have stepped into a situation where our universities have built a strong partnership. The University of Gondar has had a formal Memorandum of Understanding with Ohio State University since 2010, and with this visit, is seeking to strengthen the ties between faculty members of both institutions, including those in CFAES.
One of topic of discussion was UOG’s desire to build their agricultural research capacity. Dr. Fassil Kebede, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Professor of Soil Science at the University of Gondar, identified some specific challenges that underlie the University’s research interests, most notably the need to develop climate-smart agricultural practices. Given the range of disciplines represented in the UOG delegation and the premise of the One Health Initiative, it’s no surprise that there was a collective agreement that an integrated approach is necessary in addressing today’s problems of food security and climate change. “It’s all very interesting,” says Dr. Dawit Lebenie, Assistant Professor of Geology at UOG, “You come to realize how problem-solving is becoming dependent on interdisciplinary research”.
Later, a smaller group of UOG visitors was given a tour through the lab of Dr. Richard Dick, Professor of Soil Microbial Ecology in the School of Environment and Natural Resources. The research conducted by his team attempts to improve agroecosystems in Senegal through a better understanding of microbial composition, soil moisture, and biomass production. Given that agriculture is the foundation of the Ethiopian economy, a tour of the CFAES Food Industries Center’s (FIC) pilot food and dairy production labs by Dr. Joe Kleinhenz, Program Specialist, was especially valuable in emphasizing the importance of linking with the private sector and exploring ways to enhance the value-addition marketability of food products.
“Considering that more than 80% of the labor force in Ethiopia is involved in small-holder farming, you can’t talk about the future of Ethiopia without talking about agriculture,” says Dr. Erbaugh. He added that the country’s economic growth is “headed in the right direction” and that hopefully this progress will continue as a collaborative relationship solidifies between CFAES and the University of Gondar.
Author: Beau Ingle, firstname.lastname@example.org