Deputy Country Director of WFP in Ethiopia, Ms. Jennifer Bitonde, has visited Hawassa University to discuss potential collaboration areas of mutual interest.
Dr. Tafesse Matewos, Vice president for research and technology transfer of HU, received the delegates of WFP and presented a preview of research and technology transfer activities in HU. In his presentation, Dr. Tafesse indicated that the university has been engaged in major priority areas such as health, agriculture, science and technology as well as humanities and education. He has highlighted major collaborative projects relevant to WFP such as: environmental protection and mitigation of land degradation; food security and climate change mitigation; Apiculture (focusing on beehive and honey production technology); Food and agriculture related project (virus free sweet potato production and distribution); Integrated aquaculture on fishery, poultry and vegetables; poultry production and dissemination to unemployed youth and farmers in Sidama region; socioeconomic and environmental impacts of food technology; Triticale wheat variety to enhance food security and control soil acidity; gluten free organic starch production technology; soya bean value chain and use in food security enhancement; and vermicompost production as a substitute for non organic fertilizers, among others.
The vice President explained that most of those projects address small holder farmers in the university's catchment areas where Community services directorate takes care of reaching out to the farmers in most cases, but the academic staff and researchers are also going out to serve the community through their collaborative projects and innovations. He added that business and technology incubation centers at the university are being critical resources for the university's graduates to their innovative ideas into practice.
Ms. Jennifer Bitonde also pointed out that working with small holder farmers in all these projects are the most important interest areas of WFP Saving lives, Changing lives projects. She said that they give opportunities to university students to do their internship before their graduation in their undergraduate programs especially from agricultural backgrounds so that they get actual exposure real work experiences they need afterwards.
Ms. Bitonde added tgat WFP has a long history of working with NGOs and other actors, but the fact that Hawassa university is working on very interesting areas of enhancing food security and sustainable development, they would like to forge partnership to strengthen the efforts already started and link them with sustainability of the interventions addressing crosscutting issues such as geneder and food culture.
After elaborate discussion among the visiting officers from WFP and officials and researchers from HU, Ms. Bitonde concluded that they're very excited to know that the ground is quite firtile for collaboration to enhance the livelihoods of the community and contribute to supporting people in need. They have later on visited different sites in HU supporting the discussions in practice.