Luvaga, departments host Cochran fellows

Cochran Fellowship Program visit to Iowa StateEight agricultural professional women from Nigeria are visiting Iowa State’s Global Programs and Economics Departments this week as part of the USDA’s Cochran Fellowship program.

Each year, since the program’s inception in 1984, around 600 Cochran fellows from dozens of middle-income countries, emerging markets, and emerging democracies have come to the United States. Fellows work with U.S. universities, government agencies and private companies to receive hands-on training in agricultural and agribusiness topics.

After an official welcome by CALS Dean Wendy Wintersteen, and assistant dean for diversity Theressa Cooper, Dr. Ebby Luvaga, senior lecturer and ISU Fellowship Training Program Director, hosted the women for two intensive weeks of lectures, classes and farm industry visits around Iowa State and central Iowa.

The Cochran fellows in photo above with Dr. Wendy Wintersteen (left) and Dr. Ebby Luvaga (right) are Lola Oje, Elizabeth Fagoyinbo, Racheal Disu, Bukola Femi-Ajala, Folusho Olaniyan, Nkiru Okpareke, Linda Sowunmi, Oluwakemi Otoki.

Cochran Fellowship GroupThe group attended a class on entrepreneurship within agricultural and food sectors taught by senior lecturer Kevin Kimle, director of the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative.

Assistant professor Keri Jacobs shared her expertise on the roles, structure, organization and administration of cooperatives (photo at right).

And Luvaga spoke on her work in Uganda and Kenya as guest lecturer for sociology professor Ann Oberhauser’s International Perspectives on Women and Gender class.

Other departments and centers from around Iowa State also assisted or made presentations to the fellows, including Eduarda Becerra, Denise Bjelland, and Dr. David Acker, global ag programs; Dr. Angela Shaw, food science and human nutrition; Monica Gordillo, College of Business; Madeline Schultz, value added ag, ISU extension; Dr. Dorothy Masinde, horticulture; Dr. Darren Jarboe, center for crops utilization research; Tamara Martin, center for sustainable rural livelihoods; Kevin Leibold, extension and outreach; and others.

The group received informal instruction outside the classroom as well, with tours of the Ag Startup Engine at the ISU Research Park, Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship and Landus Cooperative in Ames, the World Food Prize building and Living History Farm in Des Moines, the BioCentury Research Farm in Boone, and Sparboe Foods and the Cargill headquarters in Minneapolis. Visits to several area organic, dairy and specialty farms filled out the itinerary.

Luvaga found the women's backgrounds intriguing--one is a former Exxon engineer. There is also a former gynecologist and a former architect.

"Since I am from Kenya and have worked with women in Uganda and Mozambique, it has been interesting to hear about the Nigerian women's personal backgrounds and aspirations before they got involved in agriculture. They reminded me of how women from different countries and cultures share similar goals and challenges," she says.

The group returns to Nigeria September 27, 2017.

Photos: Barb McBreen, Ebby Luvaga