Dr. Abdel Berrada had the privilege of hosting 10 Cochran Fellows from Morocco from September 25th through October 10th. He is a Senior Research Scientist with Colorado State University and manages the Southwestern Colorado Research Center in Yellow Jacket. However, the training program for the 10 Fellows took place entirely on the Front Range and eastern Colorado to better meet the needs of the program, which was to provide an overview of the U.S. grain and animal feed industries. The Cochran Fellowship Program is administered by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). It provides “short-term training opportunities to agricultural professionals from middle income countries, emerging markets and emerging democracies” (http://www.fas.usda.gov/programs/cochran-fellowship-program). [Photo Gallery]
Of the 10 Fellows, seven worked for the Moroccan State Grains Authority and included one economist and one technician from regional services, the Head of Flour Milling, the Head of Grain Subsidies Management, one agricultural economist, and two engineers from the import-export and studies services. The other three fellows were from the National Institute of Agricultural Research and included the Head of Research Programming, Monitoring and Evaluation; an Animal Nutritionist, and a Research Associate in wheat genetics. Five of the Fellows were male and five were female.
It was a challenge to meet the needs of all the Fellows given their diverse interests and occupations but their feedback indicates that the training they received was thorough, enjoyable, informative, and well executed. Had there been time to spare, it would have been nice to visit a port to witness grain being loaded into ships for transport to Morocco or other countries! This program would not have been as successful without the advice or help Dr. Berrada received from Bill Spencer, Raj Khosla, Scott Haley, Rick Novak, Dennis Kaan, Joel Schneekloth, CAS-ABC, and Dustin Clark, a graduate student, who gave Dr. Berrada much needed respite by driving the Fellows on some evenings and weekends.
On Monday September 26th, after getting acquainted with each other and reviewing the training schedule, Dr. Berrada and the Moroccan Fellows had lunch with Dr. Raj Khosla, Professor of Precision Agriculture and Associate Dean of International Programs in Agriculture. They then toured CSU campus with the much appreciated guidance of Melanie Calderwood, Academic Success Coordinator. The next day, the group met with Dr. Ajay Menon, Dean-CAS and Dr. James Pritchett, Executive-Associate Dean-CAS. Afterwards, they toured the Seed Lab and learned about seed certification from Rick Novak, Director of the Seed Programs at CSU. Dr. Jerry Johnson later gave them a passionate presentation, in French, about CSU Crop Testing and his experience in Africa. Other CSU programs the Moroccan Fellows had a chance to learn about include Wheat Breeding and Genetics, Integrated Pest Management (kudos to Dr. Assefa Gebre-Amlak and Dr. Kirk Broder), Dry Bean Breeding, and Meat Safety and Quality. The group also visited the Agricultural Research, Development, and Education Center (ARDEC), the USDA-ARS Research Center in Akron, CSU Extension in NE Colorado, the USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation in Ft. Collins, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service in Greely, and the Colorado Department of Agriculture in Broomfield. They even took pictures with Commissioner Don Brown (see insert). To learn about grain or feed processing, storage, and quality control; the group visited Bay States Milling in Platteville, Northern Bean and Feed, and Agfinity in Eaton. Further insight into animal feeding and management was gained when the group toured the Aniroonz Sheep Company in Wellington and the Harper and JBS Animal Feeding Operations near Kersey. Other highlights of the training program include visits to Northern Colorado Water and two farms in eastern Colorado, the Anderson Wheat Farms and the MidCap Farm.
The Moroccan Fellows were extremely impressed with what they saw and learned in Colorado. They particularly appreciated how everyone they met was friendly, welcoming, knowledgeable, and willing to take time from their busy schedules to show them around and answer all their questions. They were also impressed with the facilities they visited, the size of some of the vehicles (e.g., 560-hp tractors) and equipment they saw and the efficiency with which some of the businesses operated, often with limited staff. They were at awe with the CSU campus and with the range and depth of CSU’s programs and how these programs, which often integrate research, education, and outreach; are delivered statewide.
For Dr. Berrada, this was a wonderful opportunity to help train ag professionals from his home country, brush up on his Moroccan and French language skills, and learn more about Colorado agriculture. It was a great experience.