Virginia State University has been awarded a $1.47 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development to share the university’s Cooperative Extension mission with two universities in Southern Sudan, which is to become an independent country in July 2011. VSU will partner with Virginia Tech to bring the school’s land-grant model to the University of Juba and the Catholic University of Sudan, and will work with Sudanese schools to establish research programs on major food crops of Southern Sudan; they will also help the universities build basic and applied research capabilities in agriculture, assisting with training laboratory and field research personnel, and will build an outreach program that transfers research-based technology to farms and integrates research with graduate programs.
The VSU portion of the five-year program is led by Dr. Wondi Mersie and Dr. Laban Rutto. Dr. Mersie said rebuilding Southern Sudan’s agriculture is vital to the fledgling country’s hopes. “By bringing to the country our land grant system of integrated education, research and extension, we will be establishing a great model for establishing a firm foundation in agriculture,” he said.