UF faculty and students will travel across eight countries as part of a project to empower female farmers.
The university will receive $1.5 million of a $7 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development to kick-start the gender initiative.
The Integrating Gender and Nutrition within Agricultural Extension Services project will be divided among the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of California, Davis and consultancy firm Cultural Practice, LLC.
The project was created to strengthen gender and nutrition integration through agricultural outreach, reduce poverty and malnutrition and increase food security.
“We’ll be doing several things over there,” said Sandra Russo, director of the UF International Center’s Program Development unit and the project’s principal investigator. “It includes a lot of training for farmers and training for the people working to help them. We’ll also be doing research on those countries.”
Russo said the university was interested in the program.
“We’ve been a part of the consortium for five or six years,” she said. “One university does not have all the resources they need, so everyone involved pulls together their resources and helps each other.”
While the program is geared toward women, the program will assist both men and women in learning about each other’s roles in a social system.
“You can train women all you want on nutrition but if you don’t train men, it won’t work,” Russo said.
The project and university groups will focus on four countries for 15 months, beginning in January, and will revise the program as needed for the other four countries.
Kathleen Colverson, associate director of International Programs in UF’s College of Agriculture, said the countries benefiting from the project will be announced within the next week. They will be selected from the Feed the Future Initiative, a government effort to stop global hunger and malnutrition.
Juandavid Orejuela, a UF food and resource economics junior, said it’s great that UF is partnering with universities to help countries in need of developing a nutritional system.
“Usually, women in those countries farm and the men sell their products,” the 20-year-old said. “But it’s also important for women to know how to sell and for men to know how to plant and grow food. There needs to be that gender equality in those countries.”
[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 11/20/2014]