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CIRED marks the end of ERA project in Senegal with symposium on agriculture innovation

It is said that all good things must come to an end.  Yet, one ground-breaking project in Senegal is leaving a lasting impact on the country’s agricultural future.

After eight years of strengthening education, training, and research in agriculture in Senegal, the USAID Education and Research in Agriculture (ERA) project, managed by CIRED, culminated in a three-day symposium on the theme “Innovations for Impact.”

On June 28-30, 2018, hundreds of project participants and partners gathered on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean at Place du Souvenir in Dakar, Senegal, to share and celebrate the results of the ERA project. Participants representing several governmental ministries, agricultural institutions, and partner organizations participated in plenary sessions, breakout discussions, and product exhibitions that highlighted the outcomes of ERA programs and activities.

Lisa Franchett, USAID mission director, and Mary Teuw Niane, minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, applauded ERA staff on the project’s accomplishments during the opening ceremony.

“ERA has brought freshness into the conceptualization and implementation of agricultural training, education, research and innovation policies and programs,” said Minister Niane. “Inspired by proven standards, including the U.S. Land Grant System, ERA has supported us in building human and institutional capacity in these areas.”

Larry Vaughan, CIRED director for program development, Tom Thompson, associate dean and director of global programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Tom Archibald, former ERA chief of party and assistant professor in Agricultural, Leadership and Community Education, travelled to Senegal to join current Chief of Party Demba Mbaye and local ERA staff in celebrating the project achievements.

“The project created real dialogue within the entire agricultural value chain,” said Mbaye. “From university classrooms and research laboratories to farming fields and processing workshops—right down to the consumer table—the intertwining of the worlds of research and practice has been fundamental to the project’s success.”

Since 2011, the ERA project has strengthened human and institutional capacity in agricultural education, training, and research (AETR) institutions in order to help those institutions better serve the needs of the Senegalese public and private sectors. Key accomplishments have included: study tours to the US; syllabi development workshops; trainings in pedagogy and curriculum; experiential learning activities; Bourses d’Excellence scholarship program; new and improved farming technologies; public-private partnerships between women’s food processing groups and universities; and Senegal’s first 4-H Positive Youth Development program.

One of the main accomplishments of the ERA project was the passage of Law n°18/2014, which calls for universities to commit to a higher level of engagement with the community outside of the formal classroom. ERA helped to inspire the new law that added community outreach as a university mission (service à la communauté).

In addition, ERA has helped to formalize inclusive agriculture policies such as the Cadre de Genre, a methodological guide that enables research professors and extension centers to strengthen the integration of gender in their pedagogical approaches, strategic documents, and work environments.

Making a difference in Senegal

More than 10,000 Women entrepreneurs impacted by trainings in food security

155 Scholarships awarded to Senegalese students to study in the U.S. and in Senegal as part of the Bourses d’Excellence flagship initiative

20,304 Students using improved and standardized syllabi

1,143 Syllabi developed

832 AETR professors trained in syllabus development/curriculum design

101 Food products approved for commercialization

87 Students participating in private sector internships

More than 5,000 Producers trained in agricultural productivity

1,735 Farmers and others who have applied new and improved technologies or management practices

120 AETR members trained in administration, finance or monitoring and evaluation