March 30, 2004

Grant to Increase Productivity in India

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A desire to teach and to better understand global developments in agriculture — along with a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development — is providing the impetus for two new programs that aim to increase agricultural productivity in India.

The programs “will be a demand-driven, innovative approach to generate public-private sector linkages,” said principle investigator K.V. Raman, associate director of international programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The two-pronged approach intended for both undergraduates and members of the broader agricultural industry will be implemented for the 2004-05 school year. The portion available to students to participate in will be listed in the course catalogue under INTAG 402: Agriculture in Developing Nations – India. The class will include a discussion of various issues related to Indian agriculture during the fall semester, and a two-week field trip to India to see how those issues are addressed in reality. A similar course will be simultaneously taught for students at partner institutions in India.

The other program, the Agribusiness Management Program, is intended for professionals already in the agricultural arena.

Each part of the agricultural globalization program will be offered at both Cornell and its fellow institutions in India. The expected benefit of the bi-continental arrangement is that it will “enhance cross-national and cross-sector interactions among program participants … [which will] in turn … lead to innovative and unique initiatives and projects,” explained Prof. Syed S.H. Rizvi, food science.

INTAG 402 will utilize the internet as well as video-streaming technology to achieve international communication between students. The curriculum and fodder for discussion, will be an analysis of the ways in which agricultural problems are addressed by international, government, private sector, and non-government agencies within India.

“The aim of the course is to look at the various development issues related to improving agriculture and the livelihoods of those involved in agriculture in developing nations,” said Prof. Peter Hobbs, crop and soil sciences.

The structure of the undergraduate course is designed to hone in on specific areas of interest.

“Students self-select one of seven theme groups for special emphasis in areas [including]…agriculture education and extension, agricultural biotechnology, food processing and post harvest issues, global marketing and export agriculture, livestock in development, and tropical cropping systems,” described Rod Hawkes, senior extension associate for applied economics and management.

Hawkes will be leading the group of students interested in global marketing and export agriculture. He will also be involved in the Agribusiness Management Program, leading the trip to explore trends in global food distribution.

The makeup of INTAG 402 is anticipated to be an excellent cross-section of the Cornell community and the world at large. “I expect that the composition of future Cornell students [in this class] will … [represent] a broad range of CALS departments but also the Veterinary School, ILR, City and Regional Planning, Arts and Sciences, Fine Arts, and other programs on the campus,” Hawkes said.

“Of the 40-plus Cornell students who participated in the field study to India in January 2004, there were 14 international students representing Australia, Canada, Greece, Hungary, Kenya, Mexico, Thailand, and Tunisia, [too],” he added.

As for the Agribusiness Management Program for professionals, the structure will be an eight-day course conducted in India, followed by a trip to the United States to attend lectures at Cornell and a visit to agri-business firms in New York State and regulatory agencies in Washington, D.C..

The goal of this short course will be to enhance participants’ knowledge of primary and secondary activities of the food and agriculture value chain and to expose them to global experts in the their fields, the program’s grant proposal said.

In its entirety, the programs should bring “close consideration of the challenges, options and potential strategies in a see it, smell it, taste it, feel it, real-world context for societies with their own particular needs and objectives,” said Prof. Robert W. Blake, animal science.

Archived article by Erica Fink
Sun Staff Writer