The Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture confronts global hunger from home via its international training program.
Each year, the Borlaug Institute participates in hosting and instructing visiting trainees, or fellows, from across the globe. Fellows include government leaders, policy makers, university professors and scientists from developing countries interested in acquiring new skills and practices to bolster myriad aspects of agriculture in their home countries. Fellows are typically selected for the Borlaug Institute’s international training programs by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service. USDA/FAS funds training for fellows under one of two USDA fellowship programs. The Borlaug Fellowship Program trains fellows over the course of several months while training under the Cochran Fellowship Program is completed in two to three weeks.
In 2013 alone, 18 training programs were completed for 86 visiting fellows representing 24 developing countries around the world.
Among the 2013 schedule, six Borlaug Fellows from three African nations received training related to the research, detection and surveillance of animal Brucellosis – an infectious disease that can be transferred to humans as Undulant Fever. Brucellosis training was coordinated with the University of Wyoming-Laramie, where trainees studied Brucellosis as it exists among wildlife at Yellowstone National Park.
“Brucellosis has been eradicated from the United States except for the Yellowstone National Park area,” Borlaug Institute Associate Director and International Training Coordinator, Dr. Mike McWhorter, said.
Under a Cochran Fellowship Program, meanwhile, the Borlaug Institute coordinated a two-week training program for 20 chief veterinary officers from seven east African countries. The program instructed veterinarians on the standard methods and rules of animal disease control as they exist in the U.S.
“The program included sites in Oregon, Washington state and Texas,” McWhorter said. “Again, we’re trying to help them understand how we’ve put together a network of veterinary capabilities that helps us deal with endemic as well as threatening external diseases.”
McWhorter points out that Texas’ extensive animal health infrastructure and its land border with Mexico – where animals tend to cross into the U.S. – make the state an appropriate training location, as it provides an example of how trans-boundary animal disease control measures can benefit landlocked African nations.
“That’s one of the problems that the African people face,” McWhorter said. “Many of their countries are landlocked. Wild animals as well as nomadic herdsmen and tribesmen following the grass, tend sometimes not to honor the geographical boarders of countries.”
Other training programs in 2013 included a range of agricultural disciplines like: cotton genetics and cytogenetics; the U.S. Biogas industry; zoonotic disease surveillance protocols; veterinary laboratory management and the scientific basis for food registration and clearance.
The Borlaug Institute’s international training programs are dependent on experts from the academic departments of Texas A&M University such as: Soil and Crop Sciences; Biological and Agricultural Engineering; Nutrition and Food Science and Animal Science. Training program instructors also come from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science, the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab and the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense.
The Borlaug Institute — in tandem with partners like the U.S. Agency for International Development, the USDA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a list of corporate and foreign government entities — expects to expand its 2013 training programs in 2014.
Contact McWhorter or International Training Program Coordinator Eric Brenner for information on the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture’s 2013 international training schedule.