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Fresno State’s New Ag Initiative Focuses on Global Hunger



A 2021 United Nations report shows rising food prices are pushing hundreds of millions into poverty and decreased nutrition. (Shutterstock)
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Weather extremes coupled with the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine War are resulting in skyrocketing global commodity prices, regional food insecurity, and the potential for a “human catastrophe” food crisis, according to a recent statement by World Bank president David Malpass.

A 2021 report by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations shows rising food prices are pushing hundreds of millions into poverty and decreased nutrition.

To address such critical challenges, the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State launched the Global Agriculture and Food Security Initiative. This new initiative is designed to empower Fresno State students to become global leaders in agriculture and to create international opportunities for faculty research in the agricultural sciences. Dr. Bill Erysian will serve as the initiative’s first director.

“To be effective leaders and decision-makers in their professions, our students require increased exposure to experiential learning opportunities on critical agricultural topics facing the world, including the rise of global food insecurity, international trade, water scarcity, climate change, global labor trends, and the agro-economic systems of developing countries,” Erysian said.

The initiative will have three primary areas of focus, namely curriculum support on contemporary issues in global agriculture, training and education for foreign agricultural specialists, and overseas agriculture development projects.

Home for USDA Program in Black Sea Country

Several programs in international agriculture currently under Erysian’s management will be housed within the new initiative. These include the Department of Defense-endorsed “Agricultural Development for Armed Forces Pre-Deployment Training” (ADAPT), which is an agricultural skills training course designed for U.S. military and government personnel who are deploying to food insecure regions around the world.

The initiative will also serve as home for a USDA-funded program in the country of Georgia in the Caucasus. Five Jordan College faculty have been engaged over the past three years to help modernize the country’s national plant health policies. Erysian and co-project director Dr. Jake Wenger (plant science) will be in Tbilisi, Georgia, this month to conduct training on integrated pest management.

The new initiative will consist of a board representing each department within Jordan College; Dr. Honora Chapman, College of Arts and Humanities dean, who will represent the campus at large; and leaders from the local agricultural community.

“The Global Agriculture and Food Security Initiative will help to strengthen Fresno State as the regional hub for international agricultural research and education,” Erysian said. “It is important that we reinforce our University’s leadership role in Central California and continue our efforts to heighten global agricultural awareness and discourse.”