Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bridging the education gap in agriculture and business

As Texas Agriculture Commissioner, my primary duty is to promote the interests of Texas agriculture producers. In these challenging economic times, finding new markets and new opportunities for our producers is crucial to our prosperity and success. As difficult as times may be, we still must take every opportunity available to assist those in greater need. One of those opportunities presented itself this morning.

Today, I met with Governor Clement Wani Konga of Central Equatoria, Southern Sudan and a group of Sudanese legislators. Sudan has a rich agriculture history that has been wiped out by nearly a half-century of civil war. As older generations were lost to violence, decades of agricultural experience and knowledge died with them. As I considered the knowledge of animal husbandry and crop production learned from my father, I quickly understood their plight. Without the practical education passed on from generation to generation of farmers and ranchers, Sudan faces a tough return to its once- vibrant agriculture industry.

Fortunately, progress is being made. There is great potential for Texas A&M and the University of Texas to partner with Sudan to help bridge the education gap in agriculture and business practices. I also offered the opportunity to partner with TDA in our International Exchange Program. This program offers opportunities for Texas farmers and ranchers to host an international student and pass along knowledge of agricultural production. We currently have an agreement in place with Mexico and are working to establish similar programs with Canada and Sudan. Initiatives like these will be integral in helping reinvigorate the agriculture industry in Sudan. If you are interested in participating in this important program, please contact Jason Fenton in our Austin office at (512) 936-0761.

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