Delaware State University has entered into an agriculture-focused agreement with the government agency USAID, and it’s a partnership unlike any of its kind! Get the full story from the DSU release below.

Samantha Power, Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, and University President Tony Allen celebrate the signed agreement between Del State and the USAID that will facilitate collaborative efforts that will uplift disadvantaged communities throughout the world with solutions to challenges of food safety, agricuture, capacity building and many other areas.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power joined Delaware State University President Tony Allen today on the Dover campus to sign the first-ever Memorandum of Understanding between that agency and one of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to “advance agriculture-led economic growth, resilience, nutrition, and water security, sanitation, and hygiene” in conjunction with the USAID “Feed the Future” Research Initiative.

The MOU details a broad scope for collaboration between the partners over the next four years that are aimed at “enabling disadvantaged communities and individuals to share in a future of economic prosperity based on sustainable practices and the benefits of environmental and natural resource security. These solutions include: improvement of crops and livestock, food safety, reduction of post-harvest losses, research on fruits and vegetables, improved agronomic practices, extension, capacity building, and access to clean water.”

“This historic partnership grows from our shared commitment to having a global impact on food security, water security, development, and human rights” said Dr. Allen. “As the nation’s most diverse, contemporary HBCU, we understand how to meld cutting-edge research with our expertise at working efficiently with diverse, low-resource communities. With Administrator Power’s visionary leadership, we have found the perfect partner for those endeavors in USAID.”

The collaboration will involve USAID in facilitating new curricular and learning opportunities for Delaware State University students as well as facilitating student and faculty participation in leading research fellowships (such as the Jefferson Science Fellowship, the American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS] Fellowship, Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship, etc.). It will also link University research to the USAID’s RFS Innovation Lab Network, a Farmer-to-Farmer international volunteer coaching/placement program, and sub-award opportunities for Minority Serving Institutions across RFS’s university research and volunteer programs.

“These are critical collaborations,” said Dr. Michael Casson, Dean of the College of Business and Interim Director of the Global Institute for Equity, Inclusion, and Civil Rights, which will be coordinating most activities from the University side. “We know that both food and water insecurities around the world are spiking upward again, and that here in America we are not immune to the challenges impacting Africa, Asia, and Latin America.”

Samantha Power (in front) stopped by the Water Analysis Lab and met chemistry students.

The MOU envisions Delaware State University facilitating additional USAID collaborations with the other eighteen 1890 Land Grant universities and HBCUs by collaborating on special projects such as workshops, conferences, forums, and other community outreach initiatives.

Professor Ezrah Aharone, Director of the Center for Global Africa, emphasized that the USAID partnership will build on existing initiatives at the University: “Agribusiness was central to our recent CGA-APRM Conference that was opened by Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone.  The CGA is now piloting initiatives in Sierra Leone to strengthen intersections between COVID-19, food security, and nutrition.  Capacity-building support from USAID will help to scale and replicate our operating model in the 41 nations that comprise our alliance with the African Peer Review Mechanism.”

“I am pleased to see the formation of this partnership between USAID and Delaware State University that will harness the skills and expertise that DSU has to offer to help tackle critical global challenges of poverty, food and water insecurity, climate change, and backsliding on democracy and human rights,” commented U.S. Sen. Chris Coons. “These collaborations are critical for deepening the American people’s understanding about the importance of these issues and diversifying the talent pool working to address them. I hope to see similar partnerships with other Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions across the country, and I am proud to see President Allen and Administrator Power leading the way.”

“Developing this collaboration was the work of many months,” said Marikis Alvarez, Associate Dean for Research in the College of Agriculture, Science, and Technology. “USAID entered these discussions with a thorough grounding in the specific strengths that Delaware State University and other HBCUs bring to the table, especially with regard to working successfully with diverse, low-resource communities around the globe.” He noted the importance of the September 2021 HBCU International Development Conference in raising general awareness of HBCU interest and capacities with respect to global development.