BATON ROUGE, La. – Agriculture representatives from three countries spent time in Louisiana this summer to learn about the different areas of American agriculture, according to Susan Karimiha, LSU AgCenter International Programs coordinator.
The Cochran Fellowship Program, named for Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, provides short-term training opportunities to agricultural professionals from middle-income countries, emerging markets and emerging democracies.
Each year, Cochran Fellows come to the United States for a two-to-three-week period to work with U.S. universities, government agencies and private companies, Karimiha said.
According to the guidelines for the program, those chosen to participate are expected to take the information they learn back to their country “to develop agricultural systems necessary to meet the food and fiber needs of their domestic populations; and to strengthen and enhance trade linkages between eligible countries and agricultural interests in the United States.”
Since the program began in 1984, it has provided training for more than 14,300 fellows from 123 countries.
Recently, the LSU AgCenter was awarded with three training programs for groups from Bosnia-Herzegovina, China and Ghana, Karimiha said.
The first group, which was from Bosnia-Herzegovina, visited during early July, followed by the groups from Ghana and China.
Eldina Muftic, owner of a food safety consulting company in the Bosnian capital city Sarajevo, said she entered the program in order to learn more to help her people.
While here, the groups attended workshops by AgCenter faculty and toured various agricultural businesses, processing plants, AgCenter departments, labs and research stations.
AgCenter food safety specialist Achyut Adhikari said his part in the program involved presenting information about the U. S. Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law in 2011.
“I wanted to show them how food safety regulations work in the U.S.,” Adhikari said. “This will help them to establish their own programs once they return home.”
Some of the group members toured the LSU AgCenter Southeast Research Station at Franklinton, where they discussed milking and raw milk microbiology.
The Bosnian group was interested in food safety in their country, Karimiha said. “They also attended workshops on meat and poultry Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point regulations.”
The group from Ghana also toured local food companies and attended a presentation on animal disease prevention and reporting systems by Phil Elzer, AgCenter program leader for animal sciences and natural resources.
Jeremiah Ewudzie-Sampson, a member of the group from Ghana, said he had knowledge of U.S. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point programs and good manufacturing practices, but he wanted to see more done in these areas in Ghana.
“There is a need for regulators to interact more with industry,” Sampson said. “Not like police. But we need to get closer to them and have good relationships with them so they can tell us their problems so we can help them.”
The group from China was interested in the cold food chain, and their tours were more focused on food companies involved in cold storage.
While visiting LSU, the group toured the dairy science lab and observed how ice cream and cheese are made.
They also visited the lab of AgCenter scientist Subramaniam Sathivel, where they saw the process of quick freezing poultry and seafood. They also were able to see how “Ready Meals” are prepared.
Sathivel said he got involved in the program because of his background in food and agricultural engineering and food science.
“My background makes me have a unique experience working with food products,” Sathivel said. “And we have equipment that I could show that is like no other university.”AgCenter faculty who conducted the tours and conducted workshops for the Cochran Fellowship participants included David Picha, Ken McMillin, David Bankston, Achyut Adhikari, Phil Elzer, Subramaniam Sathivel, Chuck Boeneke, Kayanush Aryana and Charlie Hutchinson.The Cochran Fellowship training program is an excellent mechanism for International Programs to expand the AgCenter’s global footprint and positive impact on improving the lives of individuals throughout the world, said David Picha, AgCenter International Programs director. "AgCenter faculty and staff benefit from the establishment of long-term relationships and professional development of prominent individuals who are recipients of Cochran Fellowships," Picha said. "These individuals are affiliated with government institutions and the private sector in numerous countries throughout the world."Johnny Morgan
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