U.S. education enhances agricultural advancement in developing countries

Published: Jul. 29, 2014 at 10:29 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2014 at 11:07 PM CDT
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Amarillo, TX - A local research group hopes to help countries by providing them with agricultural advancements.

The Texas A&M AgriLife research center is teaching foreign students a variety of ways to improve agriculture.

Silvano Ocheya calls Kenya his home.

He has traveled here to the Texas panhandle as a means to harvest wheat and gather data for his dissertation project, which addresses drought, one of the major problems for wheat in the U.S. and many African countries.

Ocheya said we need to learn how to implement the skills we are learning to better humanity in the future.

This betterment comes from the research program focused right here in Amarillo.

Jackie Rudd, a professor of wheat breeding, said the program is developing new varieties of wheat.

"They're grown throughout Texas, they're grown throughout western Kansas, eastern Colorado, throughout there, so new varieties of wheat have improved drought tolerance that are insect resistance and better disease resistance," Rudd said.

He said this is an attempt to raise the level of productivity and the efficiency of producing wheat.

According to Ocheya, Kenya imports two-thirds of the wheat it consumes.

He says the country needs to produce wheat that is drought tolerant and also disease resistant.

This is managed by genetically taking samples of wheat and finding an altered version capable of handling these conditions.

From here, the knowledge obtained can be transferred to developing countries.

"That is what we're trying to do is just spread what we do," Rudd said. "We're apart of the Texas A&M University system, so education is what we do, but it's not just for Texans it's worldwide, and so the more wheat improvement the more food safety issues, the more food nutrition issues that get around across the world, the better off we all are."

Ocheya said his goal is to bring the knowledge back home so farmers can develop these crops to have food and make money.

This money will give families a better quality of life.