Workshop links Ethiopian entrepreneurs with Former Borlaug fellows scientists from Penn State University

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Addis Ababa, 15 August 2014 (WIC) - From August 11-14, the U.S. Embassy’s Foreign Agriculture Service held a four-day Borlaug Fellowship workshop linking female agribusiness entrepreneurs from the Ethiopian coffee, dairy and feed sectors with former Borlaug fellows from the local agricultural research community as well as with scientists from Penn State University.

The workshop, which was funded under the Feed the Future initiative, provided the entrepreneurs with a network to access the latest research and best practices here in Ethiopia, neighboring countries, and the United States.

The workshop also included site visits to a local research center, several dairy operations and a feed manufacturer where participants saw first-hand how to apply what they were learning.

With this information and supporting contact network, these business owners are now better positioned to improve their respective production and processing practices, thereby increasing their economic livelihoods.

Over the course of the event, the Borlaug alumnae and their Penn State mentors presented their research and technical expertise with women-owned agribusinesses here in Ethiopia.

The presentations touched on a range of topics including dairy production, livestock management, food safety, and the industrialization of injera.

One of the dairy farms that the group visited is run by a Borlaug alumna, Serkalem Samuel.

Serkalem shared her experience of how in her quest to find safe and affordable milk for her children and the children in her community, she became a self-taught dairy farmer.

She participated in last year’s Borlaug program where she spent time at Penn State University learning techniques to improve her small-scale operation. When asked about her Borlaug experience, she responded saying that she would not be where she is today without this training.  This week’s workshop not only provided access to new research, it further empowered her to know that there were other women entrepreneurs working through some of the same challenges she is facing.

USDA’s Borlaug Fellowship program promotes food security and economic growth by providing training and collaborative agriculture-related research opportunities to fellows from developing and middle-income countries. Borlaug fellows are generally scientists, researchers or policymakers who are in the early or middle stages of their careers. Each fellow works one-on-one with a mentor at a U.S. university, research center or government agency, usually for 6-12 weeks. The U.S. mentor will later visit the fellow’s home institution to continue collaboration.