Following his two weeks of Cochran Program training in North Carolina with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS), Chiluba Mwape was able to develop a pest list for Zambia. This has enabled the nation to conduct pest risk assessments for several Zambian fruits and vegetables—the only country in southern Africa to be able to do so. Dr. Precious Hamukwale, a professor at the University of Zambia, says her agribusiness training under the Borlaug Program has helped her to assist Zambian businesswomen to better explore their potential. Mwape and Hamukwale are among 20 Zambian alumni of the USDA’s Cochran and Borlaug Fellowship Programs who spoke about how their training in the United States inspired them to make a difference in fellow citizens’ lives.
While I was in Zambia for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, these alumni joined me at a luncheon to commemorate the training they received and to celebrate the collaboration between the USDA and the public and private sectors in Africa.
The Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program provides research and training opportunities to agricultural researchers and policymakers. The USDA partners with U.S. land grant universities, international research centers, and other institutions to provide up to 12 weeks of U.S.-based training. The program has provided collaborative research opportunities for 190 Fellows in Africa since 2004, six of which were from Zambia. These individuals have been trained in areas such as agricultural economics, food safety and risk analysis, communication technologies and crop breeding mechanisms.
The Cochran Fellowship Program provides high-quality training to improve local agricultural systems and strengthen and enhance trade links with the United States. Participants are middle and senior-level professionals from both the public and private sectors who are concerned with agricultural trade, agribusiness development, management, policy, and marketing. The program has provided training in topics including food safety, biotechnology and animal disease surveillance for 1,330 public and private sector participants from sub-Saharan Africa since 1984.
The USDA believes that institution-to-institution capacity building is an important way to build relationships to strengthen our bilateral ties. The Cochran and Borlaug Fellowship Programs are two prime examples of how the United States and Africa collaborate on a variety of agricultural activities that help promote two-way trade and food security.