New initiative at Fresno State focusing on global food insecurity

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Tuesday, October 4, 2022
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A new global initiative at Fresno State targets a timely issue campus leaders say needs to be addressed.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- During the war in Afghanistan, Fresno State helped educate US troops to make them more knowledgeable in the types of crops grown in the region.

The program was approved by the Pentagon.

"When I go to the five-sided building and scream agriculture, they say Fresno State, and I'm not kidding," says Global Agriculture and Food Security Initiative Director Bill Erysian. "It provides visibility for the integrity of this university."

Fresno State now looks to tackle more of these meaningful issues through the Global Agriculture and Food Security Initiative.

Erysian heads the initiative and says it is meant to help students develop into global decision-makers through enhanced instruction.

"I think the events following COVID and the events that are occurring now in Ukraine really highlight how fragile the global food supply really is," he said.

It's hoped more faculty members will get involved in international ag research.

A USDA-funded program allowed Erysian and entomology professor Jake Wenger to recently visit the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

"That country's been trying to modernize its regulatory area in plant health so they can engage in greater trade," Erysian said.

The new initiative isn't designed to take on the issue of world hunger.

Erysian hopes it can give students a much broader perspective - beyond the campus farm.

"We'd like to give our students that opportunity, utilizing an ag lens as they look at things," he said.

Fresno State is expected to soon sign a Memorandum Of Understanding with the Department of Defense to provide more pre-deployment agriculture training for troops.

"We have been working with the Department of Defense for many, many years now providing training in agricultural systems, assessment intervention techniques for our troops going abroad in a non-combative role," Erysian said.

The ag training is designed to better educate troops and government officials about crops grown in food insecure countries.