A delegation of 22 Senegalese university presidents and senior government officials will visit Virginia Tech on a study tour Sept. 12-13. The purpose of the visit is to expose tour members to new approaches in improving Senegalese higher education in agriculture.

The group will meet with President Charles W. Steger, deans and program directors, and tour an agricultural research and extension center. The visit is part of a larger program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and managed by Virginia Tech, working to strengthen capacity in Senegal’s agricultural sector.

Although Senegal is one of the most stable democracies in Africa and an economic leader in West Africa, the nation of 13 million still faces challenges in feeding its people. While 75 percent of the population work in the agricultural sector, the country still imports 70 percent of its rice. Part of the problem is the legacy of a colonial system of education that is not well-suited to modern-day Senegal.

In addition to touring Virginia Tech, the educators and policy-makers will visit the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, where they will learn how Virginia Tech partners with the private sector and encourages entrepreneurial ventures. They will also tour the Cyrus McCormick Farm, and the Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center, and will attend a Virginia Tech-led symposium in Fairfax on issues relating to agricultural education in developing countries. Following the symposium, they will travel to the University of Connecticut, a program partner.

The Education and Research in Agriculture in Senegal program works to improve the system of agricultural education at the college level in the West African nation. The program partners with 12 Senegalese institutions and four American universities — Connecticut, Michigan State, Purdue, and Tuskegee.

“Senegal is one of the most untapped places in the developing world in terms of potential for an increase in food security,” says Guru Ghosh, vice president for Outreach and International Affairs. “We are honored by this visit, and look forward to fruitful discussions.”

The Education and Research in Agriculture in Senegal program is managed by Virginia Tech’s Office of International Research, Education, and Development.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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