Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

April 29, 2005

International Projects Get $2 Million

Two University of Guelph projects aimed at enhancing agribusiness to reduce poverty in Ghana and improving water quality in Morocco have received nearly $2 million from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), it was announced today.

The projects are worth about $1 million each and are headed by professors at Guelph and the University’s French-language campus, Collège d’Alfred, near Ottawa. They are among 11 projects across Canada to receive support from CIDA’s Tier 2 funds. Tier 2 projects are managed by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and promote the development and internationalization of education, research and extension activities of Canadian universities.

“This certainly is incredible news,” said Anthony Clarke, U of G’s acting associate vice-president (research and international relations). “We are the only university to have two Tier 2 projects funded, and in this extremely competitive research funding environment, that is a real feather in our cap.”

In addition, a second CIDA project based at Alfred and managed by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges recently received $400,000 in funding. “All three projects support the University’s overarching goal of strengthening partnerships and collaborations in research and development internationally,” Clarke said. “More important, they will help enhance the lives and livelihoods of people around the world.”

The Ghana project is headed by Spencer Henson, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Business. His goal is to enhance Ghana’s capacity to undertake sustainable agribusiness development in a way that reduces poverty and promotes gender and social equality.

Agriculture is a central component of Ghana’s economy, especially for women and for people living in rural areas, Henson said. “This is why agribusiness has been identified as one of the key ways to improve the lives of poor people in that country.”

Many previous efforts have had limited effectiveness, due mostly to a lack of co-ordination and problems with long-term sustainability, he said. “The failure rate of new enterprises remains high, especially among those operated by women, and there is a significant impact on the ability of people to work their way out of poverty.”

Henson will work closely with private and public institutions to expand and promote sustainable agribusiness development initiatives nationwide and to adapt their programs to specifically meet people’s needs, especially women’s. He has travelled around the world helping small-scale farmers and producers in developing countries meet the tremendous challenges of rapidly changing global supply chains for agricultural and food products. Most recently, his research trips have taken him to Africa, India, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Charles Goubau, a professor in rural innovation and training at Collège d’Alfred, is leading the Morocco project, which aims to enhance standards of living in rural communities by improving water quality. He plans to establish water treatment and recycling practices and to train engineers and technicians in waste-water management. Initiatives include redesigning engineering programs, setting up exchanges between Canada and Morocco, helping to solve environmental problems stemming from water pollution, and working with the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture to provide training directly to rural communities.

Goubau is also heading a second CIDA project in Chad that will update university-level agricultural training programs. The goal is to produce graduates who can help change and improve Chad’s agri-food sector and contribute to sustainable, environmentally responsible development.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rebecca Kendall, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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