Virginia State University has a history of conducting technical assistance, institution building, collaborative agricultural research, and international training in Africa. In the past, VSU has received U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded grants that assisted Egerton University in Kenya to initially become a four-year degree granting institution, providing technical assistance in the drafting of a long-range plan for research at the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, and participating in diversification projects in Gambia.
Virginia State University implemented an ALO/USAID funded project entitled: "Vernonia Production and Utilization System In Eritrea." The major focus of this project was to identify potential cultivars, cultural practices for the optimal vernonia seed production in Eritrea. Vernonia seeds contain a “naturally” epoxidized vernolic acid.
Faculty at VSU obtained a grant from USDA/CSREES/ISE to establish a mutually beneficial relationship with the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences (ZAAS) of the Peoples Republic of China. A Memorandum of Understanding between ARS/VSU and ZAAS for developing proactive research cooperation in enhancing vegetable soybean research and germplasm exchange was developed.
USAID awarded VirginiaStateUniversity (VSU) a Cooperative Agreement to implement a five-year (2003-2008), Farmer to Farmer (FtF) volunteer technical assistance program in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The goal of the VSU-FtF Program was to contribute to improved agricultural productivity and income of small Ethiopian and Eritrean agricultural producers by developing sound agribusiness opportunities. The program focused on horticulture, livestock (animal production, dairy, feed, and health as well as aquaculture and fisheries), and agricultural financing. During the life of the project (FY 2003 – FY 2008), a total of 70 volunteers were fielded for 58 assignments and spent 1318 volunteer days in five focus areas. Sixty six of the volunteers (94.3%) were fielded in Ethiopia.
Virginia State University is currently implementing a USAID IPM-CRSP Global Theme project entitled, "Management of the Invasive Plant, Parthenium in Eastern and Southern Africa," 2005-2009. The livelihoods of millions of people in Africa, Asia and Australia, are severely affected by parthenium weed, Parthenium hysterophorus L. (Asteraceae). Parthenium reduces crop yield, competes with preferred pasture species and when consumed by domestic animals, taints their milk and meat, reducing their value. It also causes many human health problems such as severe contact dermatitis and respiratory problems. A collaborative project funded by the USAID through the Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Research Support Programs (IPMCRSP) and led by Virginia State University is developing practices to manage parthenium in eastern and southern Africa. Distribution surveys of parthenium in host countries, Botswana, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Uganda have been conducted in the last three years. Several host country personnel have been trained in weed management. Evaluation of biological control agents against parthenium is underway, under quarantine, in Ethiopia and South Africa.
Contact: Wondi Mersie