International Rural Experts Visit Campus

November 11, 2008 - News Release

Rural experts from across the globe will be visiting the University of Guelph Nov. 13 and 14 in an effort to establish a Canadian research group aimed at eradicating poverty in African and South Asian rural villages.

Organized by the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, the International Village Level Studies Workshop is being funded by the International Development Research Centre and will be held in the Eccles Centre.

The 25 participants are researchers from Canada, India and Africa as well as representatives from international institutions and funding agencies.

"We are hoping the workshop will be a catalyst in developing a research group in Canada focused on eradicating poverty in developing countries," said Prof. Harry Cummings, who is co-ordinating the workshop. "The need has never been greater with the international food crisis, food security issues, climate change and world poverty. We need to be doing what we can to put policies in place that will reduce the impact all these issues are having on rural areas."

During the two-day event, participants will discuss which topics should be the focus of their research.

The research team will be working with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), an organization focused on collecting agriculture and rural information.

ICRISAT has been conducting censuses in villages throughout Africa and South Asia for a couple of decades, said Cummings. These village-level data capture a longitudinal picture of the populations in the selected rural areas and give researchers vital information such as socioeconomic situation, health, livelihood and climate conditions, he said.

"Normally a researcher would have to go into a village, conduct a survey and then return home and analyze it. But in this case, we will already have data from the past 10 to 25 years on the areas we are studying. Having longitudinal information is important, especially when you're researching issues such as climate change."

ICRISAT already has partnerships with research groups in the United States and the United Kingdom.

"It's time that Canada had its own research group," said Cummings. "We hope this workshop will build the linkages required among Canadian researchers, international researchers, funding institutions and ICRISAT to make it happen."

Prof. Harry Cummings
School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
519-824-4120, Ext. 53637

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338/, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982/

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