URBANA, Ill. – A new program for worldwide agricultural development kicked off Nov. 30 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. AgReach closes gaps in agrisystems so that farmers in some of the poorest countries can thrive, including Sierra Leone, Malawi, and Bangladesh.
Paul McNamara, economist and professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences leads the initiative and team of 18 professionals. With over 20 years of experience in agricultural economics and development, McNamara founded AgReach to continue building the $22 million development portfolio of projects that have improved the quality of farming families’ food and methods in over 50 countries.
College of ACES Dean Kim Kidwell stated, “One thing notable about the AgReach program is the mix of disciplines and the breadth of experience among the team. People are a key ingredient in any well-functioning and impactful extension program, and in a relatively short amount of time, the AgReach team has assembled a world-class group of development professionals and scholars to implement its program of capacity development and action-oriented research.”
AgReach has grown out of several United States Agency for International Development and Feed the Future projects. Initiated by the Modernizing Agriculture and Extension Services in 2012, AgReach builds from other programs including the Integrating Gender and Nutrition within Agricultural Extension Services (INGENAES) and Malawi Strengthening Agriculture and Nutrition Extension Services Project (SANE), both housed at Illinois.
Through collaboration with public and private institutions, governments, and nongovernmental organizations, these projects have transformed extension into more demand-driven, gender-responsive, and nutrition-sensitive systems through building local capacity and applying research-based solutions that work. In addition to its strong background in strengthening extension systems, AgReach is rooted in one of the world’s most prestigious land-grant universities, making it well-positioned as an international thought leader in extension.
More information about AgReach is available online.