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Jim Peck presents Jim Kelly, professor of plant, soil, and microbial sciences, with an MSU coin on behalf of President Lou Anna K. Simon.

EMBRACING COUNTRY-LED DEVELOPMENT

Something we’ve learned over generations of development and agricultural work is to embrace country-led development strategies rather than thrusting an external solution on a region without paying attention to its particular conditions. So with our local partners we co-create knowledge, over time gaining experience, building trust, and increasing our ability to make a difference in people’s lives.

It’s a model validated by US AID’s Feed the Future Initiative, for which we’re pleased to be a partner in Rwanda and other targeted countries. Our model is to apply technology, microeconomics, and a sense of the global marketplace. If you think about it, it’s really the same kind of approach we take here in Michigan with our Extension program.

In Rwanda, conditions created by climate change, especially drought, are creating greater challenges to sustainable food production. There, Michigan State researchers are on the ground helping develop hardier bean varieties, and given that Michigan is one of this country’s top dry bean producers, we have a lot of accumulated expertise. That doesn’t come just on the science and agriculture end, but on matters such as local outreach, marketing, and distribution. It’s not just about improving productivity and nutrition, but also adding value by building capacity for greater local prosperity.

This program model leverages both our technological leadership in the global dimension and the fruits of the long relationships that we’ve developed around the globe with people where they live.