UT Delegation Reunites with 2022 USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Fellows in Kenya

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By Mary Shelley-Snell

On June 22 and 23, the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM), in partnership with the Smith Center, hosted a workshop on animal health, governance and policy at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya. The workshop was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS) and included presentations from several of the USDA-FAS 2022 Faculty Exchange Program (FEP) and Scientific Exchange Program (SEP) Fellows. Attendees represented a variety of organizations, including several non-governmental organizations, universities,  local and regional governments, research institutions, and private veterinary practices.

“This workshop brought together approximately thirty-five Kenyan scientists to examine animal health problems identified by the USDA-FAS Scientific Exchange Program fellows hosted at UT in Fall 2022,” Marcy Souza, professor and associate dean for outreach and global engagement at UTCVM, explained. “The scientists participated in a policy analysis session that will hopefully build their confidence to leverage their expertise and play a role in the policy process to solve animal health problems going forward.”

The agenda opened with introductions by Souza and Tom Gill, chair for the Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture, followed by welcoming remarks from Appolinaire Djikeng, director general of ILRI,  Charles Ochodo, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Ryan Scott, USDA FAS regional agricultural counselor and Hongwei Xin, dean of AgResearch at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. Souza and Misty Bailey, assistant professor of practice and curriculum and assessment coordinator at UTCVM, also led a discussion on science communication and leadership. 

“Animal health is a complex global issue. A holistic approach through global collaborations is essential to tackle this challenge,” Xin said. “The animal health workshop held at ILRI is a great example of working together towards safeguarding animal health as an integral part of the One Health space. The workshop provided a platform for the participants to share their knowledge and learn from one another.” 

The SEP fellows gave presentations on their experience in the exchange program, and also shared their individual and group policy briefs. The second day of the workshop focused on breakout group sessions and group presentations dealing with different policy topics including: animal slaughter / food safety, poultry value chain, import / export certification and sample collection assurance, and disease surveillance and vaccine distribution. 

“Stakeholder engagement is a very important component of policy development. The workshop provided a good opportunity for obtaining inputs from various stakeholders,” Donald Lubembe, a 2022 USDA FEP Fellow, said about his experience at the workshop. “It provided an ideal platform for networking. At a personal level, I made many new professional connections.”

These USDA-FAS exchange programs function to train the next generation of scientists, train policymakers and agricultural educators to better understand the global agricultural marketplace, support science-based trade policies, increase scientific knowledge and collaborative research, and extend knowledge to users and intermediaries in the international agricultural marketplace. UTCVM and the Smith Center are excited to be involved in these exchange programs and look forward to the opportunity to #GrowGlobal with faculty around the world.