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2010 News Archive

Celebrating 25 Years of support of agricultural and food systems in developing nations

Alumni, Ambassador Gips and Officers from Office of Agriculture

Local alumni of Cochran and Borlag Fellowship programs joined the Ambassador and officers from the Office of Agricultural Affairs to celebrate the success of these education and training programs which are administered by the Foreign Agricultural Service

February 25, 2010

Remarks by Ambassador Gips at the Cochran and Borlaug alumni reception

by Agricultural Affairs Counselor Scott Sindelar

"The Cochran Fellowship Program was started exactly 25 years ago by U.S. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi. His vision was to provide training and technical support so that developing nations might improve their agricultural and food systems and to strengthen and enhance agricultural trade links with the United States. Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, the program has provided U.S.-based training for over 13,000 participants from more than 100 countries worldwide. Since 1995, more than 280 South Africans have participated in the program. It has been FAS/Pretoria’s single most successful outreach program in southern Africa.

A second program managed by USDA in South Africa is the Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellows Program. Dr. Borlaug, the “Father of the Green Revolution” received the Noble Peace Prize in 1970 for his success in developing high-yielding wheat varieties. He is credited with saving millions of lives and his work virtually eliminated recurring famines in South Asia. In 2007, he received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the United States, for his lifetime contributions to improve international agriculture and global food security.

The program that was named in his honor was launched in March 2004 and it aims to promote food security and economic growth by increasing scientific knowledge and research to improve agricultural productivity. It provides training and collaborative research opportunities through an exchange program; it facilitates the transfer of new agricultural technologies to strengthen agricultural practices; and, it addresses obstacles to the adoption of technology, such as ineffectual policies and regulations.

The Borlaug Program is relatively new, but has grown from 33 Fellows from 5 countries in 2004 to a total of 89 Fellows from 31 countries in 2009. Our USDA/FAS staff in Pretoria succeeded in bringing this program to South Africa for the first time in 2009 and four scholars traveled to the United States last year for the first phase of the academic exchange.

It is now my pleasure and honor to introduce to you Ambassador Gips."

Remarks by Ambassador Gips

"It is my pleasure to welcome all of you, and especially our Cochran and Borlaug Fellowship Program alumni to our home. I am pleased that we have this opportunity to recognize those individuals who benefitted from the training provided by these programs. This experience quite often enriches the individual, it also helps contribute to the growth and prosperity of South Africa, and it certainly helps build bridges between South Africa and the United States.

I am delighted that in this, the silver anniversary of the Cochran program and the fifteenth year of operations in South Africa, we have more than thirty Cochran alumni with us this evening. You can spot them by the special badge with the blue seal. We are very proud to have all of you with us today and I would like to acknowledge the continuing contributions you make to your country and to our relationship with South Africa.

I also wish to recognize a special guest this evening, Ms. Lindsey Itle-Skansden. Lindsey is USDA’s Cochran specialist for Africa and this is the fifth year she has come to South Africa to interview applicants for the Cochran Program. The success of the South African program is due in no small part to her significant contributions.

I am thrilled that our South Africa Borlaug Fellows are with us today. You can also identify them by the special name tags they are wearing. In coming weeks, the second phase of their Borlaug training will commence when the U.S.-based professors they worked with last year, visit South Africa to continue the collaboration. I expect we will hear a lot more from you in the future.

Neither of these programs would succeed without the support of the organizations in which our Cochran and Borlaug Fellows work. I also wish to acknowledge the executives and managing directors who have joined us and to thank you for your support of these valuable programs. We encourage you to continue to send us applicants from your organizations.

This reception is an opportunity to build on the positive experiences of both the Cochran and Borlaug programs. In a world still troubled by food insecurity, the United States and South Africa can and should be partners in tackling the problems facing agricultural and trade development. These programs are one example of how we are already doing that.

Thank you."

About the Programs

  • Cochran Fellowship Program

    Helping developing countries strengthen sustainable agricultural practices by providing scientific training and collaborative research opportunities to visiting researchers, policymakers, and university faculty.

  • Borlaug Fellowship Program

    Providing U.S.-based agricultural training opportunities for senior and mid-level specialists and administrators from public and private sectors who are concerned with agricultural trade, agribusiness development, management, policy, and marketing.