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Winter 2002


Agriculture's global reach
By Jennifer Doup

 

Image: Agriculture's global reach
Representatives from more than 150 universities and 50 nations attended the 2001 Global Consortium of Higher Education and Research for Agriculture (GCHERA) conference in San Francisco in July.

Purdue and the College of Agriculture have joined nearly 400 universities and research institutions in 136 countries to form the Global Consortium of Higher Education and Research for Agriculture (GCHERA). The consortium is comprised of leaders from agricultural higher education and research institutions.

"The global shift toward market-driven economics has enormous implications for higher education in agriculture throughout the world," says Purdue President Martin C. Jischke, who is also the founding president of the consortium. "The mission of the consortium is to foster global cooperation in agricultural research and education in order that member institutions can better serve human needs for food security and a sustainable environment."

When Jischke left Iowa State University in August 2000 to become Purdue's president, the secretariat for GCHERA moved from Iowa State to Purdue's International Programs in Agriculture (IPIA). IPIA helped prepare for the 2001 Global Conference in San Francisco and arranged for university presidents, researchers, deans and educators from 50 nations and more than 150 universities to take part in the event.

Participants traveled from as far away as Ukraine, France, China, India, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Ethiopia, Kenya, Honduras and Australia, as well as from the United States. The conference focused on agricultural research, life sciences and information technology, the changing nature of food systems, agricultural curricula for the 21st century and organizing the university of the future.
David Sammons, associate dean of Purdue Agriculture and IPIA director, says the information shared at the conference helped agricultural leaders learn to better position their institutions to serve the needs of local agriculture and provide for food security in a sustainable environment.

"GCHERA is a unique organization that benefits many people," says Sammons. "Farmers, students, industries and the university all gain important information about sustainable agriculture from this global relationship. It takes effective leadership from these groups to learn how to feed the large populations of our world without damaging our environment."

Jischke stepped down as GCHERA president at the conference, and Dmytro Melnychuk, rector of the National Agricultural University in Kiev, Ukraine, was named the new president of the consortium. The change in leadership also means that secretariat responsibilities transferred from Purdue to the university in Ukraine, since the consortium president's university carries out those duties. The next conference will be held in 2003 in Ukraine.

GCHERA was established in 1998 to work on food security issues and environmental problems challenging the world. The first GCHERA meeting was held July 1999 in Amsterdam with more than 145 representatives.

Image: members of the GCHERA

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