The Office of International Programs in Agriculture, in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, collaboratively convened a three-day international conference on climate change and sustainability through the Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI), a Feed the Future Project in Tanzania funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Through iAGRI, Ohio State worked with other international partners, chiefly Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Morogoro, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, to convene this conference, which brought together more than 100 scientists and agribusiness experts from around the world.
Ohio State is the management entity for the iAGRI project, and leads a consortium of five other U.S. land grant universities in implementing this major food security project that supports graduate student training, collaborative agricultural research, and human and institutional capacity building. iAGRI’s first climate change conference, held in the Autumn of 2013, was an important forum for deliberating the food security challenges facing Sub-Saharan Africa and culminated in the publication of the conference’s papers in a book entitled Sustainable Intensification to Advance Food Security and Enhance Climate Resilience in Africa (2015).
From June 3-5, 2015, experts deliberated on a number of topics related to climate change that affect the sustainability of agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa, such as soil fertility, value chains, conservation agriculture, water management, private sector and extension solutions for sustainability, and international, national and local policies for agricultural sustainability.
Dr. Steve Slack, Associate Dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and Director of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) delivered opening remarks with Dr. Gerald Monela, SUA’s Vice-Chancellor, along with other administrators from USAID, the FAO, and the UN’s Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Dr. Slack and Dr. Mark Erbaugh, Director of the Office of International Programs in Agriculture, also visited the Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute and with USAID personnel in Dar es Salaam to discuss the progress that the iAGRI project has made in improving Tanzania’s food security.
Other Ohio State faculty who were instrumental in organizing the climate change conference included Dr. David Kraybill, Professor in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE) and iAGRI Project Director; Dr. David Hansen, iAGRI Project Coordinator; and Dr. Rattan Lal, Professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) and Director of Ohio State’s Carbon Management and Sequestration Center (CMSC).
Also in attendance from Ohio State were Dr. Mario Miranda, Professor, AEDE; Dr. Robert Agunga, Professor, Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership and Director of the Center for African Studies; Boniface Massawe, Ph.D in SENR; and Pat Bell, Ph.D student in SENR.
Overall Dr. Slack and others left the conference impressed with what had been discussed and accomplished, and pleased that Ohio State was integral in advancing the conversation on such an important issue.
“I thought the conference was extremely well done and productive, and that Ohio State was well represented and appreciated at the conference,” Dr. Slack commented. “It’s also clear that iAGRI is well known and respected, which is superb given the short time it’s been in existence.”
Preliminary planning is already in motion for another iAGRI climate change conference in the future in order to build off the successes that have been attained through the first two conferences.