Alcorn Ag receives Capacity Building Grant from USDA/NIFA

Alcorn State University, School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences (AREAS) received funding from the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) 1890 Capacity Building Grant.

The proposal “Investigation of Small Farm Ecosystem Crop Diseases and Integration of Plant Pathology Resources for Limited-Resource Farmers in Rural Mississippi” by Dr. Chunquan Zhang, the project’s primary investigator and assistant professor in the Department of Agriculture, was awarded $246,318.

The overall goal of the research is to improve the productivity of small farm crops in rural Mississippi through integration of plant disease diagnostics, research demonstrations, training programs and extension research.

“The goal is to encourage hands-on plant pathology education among farmers and other members of the agriculture community, and create integration of plant disease diagnosis into extension services,” said Zhang. “A part of the project is organizing and developing plant disease diagnosis training module for diverse groups and provide technical support at Alcorn State.”

Others involved in the project are: Dr. Daniel Collins, co-director (Co-PD), extension plant pathologist, Dr. Victor Njiti, Co-PD, geneticist and agronomist, Dr. Yan Meng, Co-PD, plant physiologist, Dr. Franklin Chukwuma, Co-PD, and Dr. Tahir Rashid, Co-PD, assistant professor of entomology.

Three graduate students will be hired to assist with the project and conduct research for their thesis and occupational training.

A plant disease diagnosis and management training module will be developed and integrated into extension education to meet the specific objectives of the audience. Developed modules will cover a diversity of crops and pathogen groups. They intend to have nine education and training activities over a three-year period. These activities will be offered at Alcorn’s research and demonstration centers located at Mound Bayou, Preston and Lorman, Mississippi. The training workshops will also be offered during the field days at participating farmers’ locations who agree to offer mentorships.

Dr. Wesley Whittaker, interim associate dean for research, School of AREAS, stated, “The Office of Research commends the outstanding work of our scientists and their continuing effort in their research endeavors. Their perseverance and hard work are admired and must be emulated by others as we seek to increase our endowment of external funds to support our research programs in the School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences.”

For more information about this research, please contact Dr. Chunquan Zhang at (601) 877-6656 or [email protected] .

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