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The Benefits of International Collaboration and Global Engagement

Nifa Author
Josh Stull, Stakeholder Affairs Officer
Guest Author
Maddie Ring, NIFA Intern

International collaboration is extremely important for the future of agriculture within our country and around the world. Solutions developed by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)-funded researchers at Land-grant Universities and institutions of higher education in the United States could benefit other parts of the world. Many domestic advances in the agricultural sector also rely upon international collaboration.

A recent study by USDA’s Economic Research Service has found that public investment in agricultural research and development (R&D) has a $20 return of investment to the U.S. economy for every $1 spent. Even so, public agricultural R&D expenditures, when adjusted for inflation, have declined by about one-third. USDA and its partners play a major role in preparing U.S. citizens to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world. At NIFA, the Center for International Programs establishes links between NIFA staff and other federal organizations to advance globally, which allows NIFA to stay informed of emerging agricultural issues of potential domestic concern. Through these programs, NIFA supports innovative ways to encourage students, faculty researchers and Cooperative Extension experts to engage globally.

Within NIFA, collaborations with international partners through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) have contributed to advances in U.S. agriculture, the development of a competent agricultural workforce and improvements in global food security. Eligible U.S. institutions are encouraged to apply for AFRI grants that will collaborate with international partners, as long as the benefits to the U.S. are clearly demonstrated. AFRI may also solicit joint collaborative project applications with international partners through specific program area priorities. Have a question? Read these FAQs.

University of California, Davis, began a project in 2020 called, “Prediction Models for Grain Nutrient Levels in the U.S. Maize Nam Panel, and Genomic Associations Under Drought and Heat Stress in Zimbabwe.” This project involves research being done in Zimbabwe on maize hybrids that are being evaluated under heat stress and drought. The genetic analysis, traits of interest and methods will be shared and taught to students in the U.S., Zimbabwe, and eastern Africa. This will ultimately help maize breeders and consumers in these countries and regions to ensure a sufficient food supply long term.

In 2020, Bowie State University Agricultural Research and Extension Experience for Undergraduates began developing a pathway for minority students to explore a career path in food and agriculture, to be done through an international research and Extension internship for eight weeks in the summer at Egerton University in Kenya, accompanied by domestic research. The goal of this project is to increase student interest in the optimization of U.S. agricultural productivity, provide opportunities for students in international agricultural research, and develop a larger capacity for the agricultural industry overall.

The goal of these efforts is that continued international collaboration within agriculture will lead to advancements that will continue to be beneficial to the U.S. and our global partners.

Top image: Hands demonstrating teamwork, courtesy of Adobe Stock. 

Farm Bill Priority Areas
Plant health, production, and products;
Agriculture economics and rural communities
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