Alcorn State, Miss. (July 22, 2013) - Anthony Reed, interim assistant administrator for the Alcorn State University Extension Program (ASUEP), recently traveled to the Eastern Cape of South Africa to assist with the development of extension programs for the South Africa Farmer-to-Farmer Program (FTF).
The program is in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Florida A&M University (FAMU). The FTF Agricultural Development Program in South Africa is partnering with agricultural and agribusiness experts at the University of Fort Hare (UFH) to provide technical assistance to the Historically Disadvantaged Institutions (HDI) to increase productivity, income and employment among beneficiary groups.
“The UFH has a critical role to play in equipping extension workers with relevant scientifically derived extension skills,” Reed said. “However, the UFH does not currently have in place an agricultural extension component through which training, research and engagement is channeled. This need has prompted the establishment of a Campus Based Agricultural Extension Support (CBAES) unit with the development of both administrative and operational procedures for the CBAES System.”
The current situation in the Eastern Cape Province is that the non-urban population amounts to nearly over 4 million people and dense concentrations of rural and peri-urban settlements occur in other districts and areas. “The Eastern Cape Province continues to be one of South Africa’s provinces with the highest levels of poverty, underdeveloped infrastructure and unemployment,” explained Reed.
In addition, rural areas have a lack of clean water subsequently impairing the ability of most people in rural areas to engage in appropriate personal, food and environmental hygiene practices.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 5 million school children do not have readily available access to nutritious food. An estimated 5.6 million people were living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa in 2009, more than in any other country. There are a staggering 1.9 million AIDS orphans in South Africa and by 2015 the figure will stand at 5.7 million, according to UNICEF 2010 annual report.
In an effort to address these insurmountable statistics, the FTF Program requested Mr. Reed to assist with the development of suitable strategies and frameworks to establish this unit within the context of the UFH's Community Engagement, Research, Teaching policies and practices environment. The UFH is looking to build its capacity to better serve extension professionals, students in agriculture, and the farming community using innovative ways of passing technologies efficiently and effectively.
“Extension in this context would embody teaching/training, research and outreach,” stated Reed. “In order to achieve this ultimate goal, USAID and FAMU had to first develop a structure for extension within the University context, drawing on benefits from existing programs that could be linked, developing the administrative and operational policies and procedures for the CBAES unit, as well as defining its relationship to stakeholders.”
Mr. Reed completed his assignment by developing a draft framework that showcased appropriate strategies, institutional framework, administrative policies and practices to build a CBAES unit in synchronization with the institutional community engagement, research, teaching and learning policies. “I am very appreciative of having been chosen to participate in this project, and honored to have had the opportunity to visit South Africa.”
Alcorn State University is a premier comprehensive land-grant university that develops diverse students into globally-competitive leaders, and applies scientific research through collaborative partnerships that benefit the surrounding communities, state, nation, and world.
Pictured: Reed (center) helps harvesting cabages.