Back from abroad

Two people stand next to a table with plastic bottles and plastic containers containing food items. One person holds a notebook. Behind the table is a sign with text "Strengthening African Food Processors (SAP) to reduce food losses. Supported by the Rockefeller Foundation" with the Rockefeller logo. At the bottom of the sign is the University of Nairobi logo and the text "University of Nairobi" and the text "Purdue University."
 The University of Nairobi’s food science department is making food products out of food processing waste.

I believe strongly that global food security is directly tied to our national security. Since returning from Nairobi, Kenya over the weekend, I continue to think about a few key takeaways and comments, namely:

  • Research can be most impactful if conducted where it will be implemented.
  • One reason for the success of the WSU Global Health – Kenya program is the intentional effort directed at program leadership by WSU faculty located in Kenya, and other Kenyan partners.
  • The WSU team located in Kenya is an impressive group of motivated faculty who have built solid countrywide partnerships that are an important aspect of a sustainable program — they are quickly becoming the partner of choice.
  • With more resources, CAHNRS could add new elements to the existing WSU Global Health – Kenya program that would serve Washington, Kenya, and CAHNRS well around the broad topic of health (human, animal, and planet) in the face of a changing climate.

I enjoyed meeting the dean of agriculture and five department chairs at the University of Nairobi. There is a dryland agriculture research station in Kenya that is part of a large network of research stations exploring plant and animal agriculture. These stations are run by a partner organization. We also saw and heard about product innovation in the food science department. The department’s research on reducing food waste has led to an incubator for product and processing technique development.

Many opportunities exist for crop and soil sciences, horticulture, entomology, Institute of Biological Chemistry, animal sciences, plant pathology, School of the Environment, School of Economic Sciences, apparel, merchandising, design and textiles, and human development faculty to collaborate with those at the University of Nairobi. I was surprised to learn that the leading global textile manufacturer is in Kenya. Throughout the week, Jon Yoder and Tom Marsh’s names came up as a result of existing collaborations and work with WSU Global Health – Kenya. During the visit, common themes related to climate change and food security, data-informed decision tools, and genetic advances in animal and plant agriculture surfaced. There is a lot to think about.

It is time to nominate your colleagues for the President’s Employee Excellence Award! I know CAHNRS has outstanding administrative professionals and classified employees without whom we couldn’t be successful. Now’s the time to help recognize their contributions to the university’s productivity; innovative problem-solving; positive working relations; and university and community service. Please consider submitting a nomination before Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m.

This week I attended a Board of Natural Resources meeting followed by a Washington State Dairy Federation meeting. I am back in Pullman on Thursday before a quick trip on Friday to Yakima, Wash. This will be my first time there! The days are never dull no matter what time zone I am in.


Leave a Reply