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Iowa State University Extension

Extension thinks and acts globally through international development opportunities

Jack Payne and William Dar

“Think globally, act locally” means considering global consequences but taking local action. However, some issues require global action as well. So during October’s World Food Prize events in Des Moines, ISU Extension began a new collaboration with an international development organization dealing with hunger and poverty. Extension also renewed a partnership with a Chinese agricultural company focused on developing an extension system.

Extension and Iowa State University signed an agreement with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to support small-scale farmers in developing countries, explained Sok-Leng Tan, with ISU Extension’s global programs. The project will include distance learning, crop improvement, biotechnology, climate change and drought management, along with agricultural extension and outreach. Vice President for ISU Extension and Outreach Jack Payne formalized the agreement with ICRISAT Director General William Dar.

Dar said, “We need united action to fight against hunger and poverty. We need to use technology to reach out to the unreached.”

He said small farmers in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa face global warming, drought, flood, new pests and diseases, loss of biodiversity and land degradation. They need access to improved technologies, management practices and crop varieties to cope with these challenges.

“In developing countries the extension system … it’s not healthy. There’s so much to improve,” he continued. “Extension is key, capacity building is key, empowerment is key, and we need all the support that is there — increasing investment for research, for extension and development.”

ISU Extension is continuing its partnership with Longping High Tech Agriculture, a leading seed company in China that specializes in hybrid rice. Chief Executive Officer Weibin Yan said, “We’re very pleased to have a strategic partnership with ISU Extension. We think we have a bright future for further cooperation.”

In 2008 eight Longping employees traveled to Iowa State University for two months of training in American English, manufacturing process analysis and farm and agribusiness site visits, Tan explained. Another group of Longping employees came to ISU for training in July 2009, along with visits to local farms, cooperatives and a grain storage company.

“Longping High Tech anticipates sending more of their employees annually to Iowa to acquaint themselves with best practices in U.S. agriculture,” Tan noted.

This article appeared in December 2009 -- From Jack Payne Newsletter