CFAES organizes climate change conference in Tanzania, promotes food security through iAGRI

climate change conferenceNearly 100 researchers gathered at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Morogoro, Tanzania, Nov. 13-15 for a conference titled “Climate Change, Sustainable Intensification and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

The conference was hosted by SUA , the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and the Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI) — a major food security project in Tanzania funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and administered by CFAES’s Office of International Programs in Agriculture (IPA). The Ohio State University leads a consortium of five other U.S. land grant universities to implement iAGRI, a project designed to strengthen SUA’s training and research capacity.

Presenters and discussions at the conference, which spanned three days, addressed climate change as an overarching major challenge to agricultural and food systems in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the Feed the Future initiative, the U.S. government’s primary global hunger and food security program, sub-Saharan Africa is chronically vulnerable to food insecurity due to increasing population and concomitant increased demand for food. Additional challenges to agricultural production attributable to climate change include temperature changes, shifts in rainfall, droughts, floods, degraded soils, plant pests and animal diseases.

Two-thirds of Tanzanians work in agriculture

Given that two-thirds of the Tanzanian workforce is employed in agriculture, the country’s long-term economic success hinges on discovering novel ways to make agricultural production more adaptive and sustainable.

“While agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa is the basis for the economies and livelihoods of its people, it has remained largely deficient in adopting and adapting important innovative approaches for sustained growth,” said Vedasto Muhikambele, SUA’s director of research and post-graduate studies, at the conference’s opening session. “In order to adapt to climate change and variability and address land degradation, African agriculture must be revitalized through innovative strategies and practices that will enable the sector to deliver to its full capacity.”

Nearly 50 papers were presented on 11 related themes, including degraded lands rehabilitation through forestry and agro-forestry, nutrient and water management, and human dimensions of terrestrial carbon management.

Rattan Lal, Distinguished University Professor in CFAES’s School of Environment and Natural Resources and director of the school’s Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, asked the conference participants during his keynote address to visualize a coin engraved with “In Soil We Trust” as a way to signify the prominent role soil plays in sequestering carbon. Dr. Lal, along with Dr. Dave Hansen, Ohio State professor emeritus and iAGRI project coordinator, were mentors of the conference’s steering committee. In all, the conference attracted participants from 14 different countries in Africa, Europe and North America.

Elation over the outcomes

One outcome of the conference was a recommendation to establish a regional climate change and food security research network, where connections made among conference participants can be maintained and can fuel future research collaborations. Dr. David Kraybill, iAGRI’s project director and a professor in CFAES’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, was elated with the outcomes of the conference, especially its effort to involve a larger pool of stakeholders from diverse backgrounds in climate change adaptation.

“The conference achieved the planning committee’s goal of bringing together biological and social scientists from around the world to seek solutions to the challenges of climate change in Africa,” Dr. Kraybill said. He added that in the future, iAGRI “hopes to broaden the discussion to engage scientists, policy-makers and farmers about sustainable adaptation to climate change.” A followup conference on climate change in Africa is already planned for 2014.

Aligned with Ohio State Discovery Theme

The conference, along with the iAGRI project as whole, is particularly important in that it not only embodies the capacity-building priorities of Feed the Future, but directly aligns with Ohio State’s Food Production and Security Discovery Theme. Along with Food Production and Security, Ohio State determined in 2012 that Energy and Environment and Health and Wellness were the world’s three most pressing long-term challenges, and that the university’s research and strategic planning should seek to advance knowledge-building in those particular fields.

According to IPA Director Mark Erbaugh, IPA serves a vital role in this discovery process through its own organizational mission of internationalizing CFAES. “By addressing long-term challenges in a global context,” Dr. Erbaugh said, “the iAGRI project and other international projects administered through the IPA office make important contributions to the Discovery Theme knowledge base.”

For more information, contact Dr. Erbaugh at or 614-292-6479. Contact the writer, Beau Ingle, IPA program manager, at, 614-292-4221.

Laura Alexander and Samantha Alvis of iAGRI contributed to this story. (Photo: iAGRI.)

Streams of conscientiousness

streamside guidesOSU Extension, CFAES’s outreach arm, offers three new online guides for streamside landowners in suburban, rural residential and agricultural areas. Each guide gives details on best practices for meeting a landowner’s goals while improving a stream’s health. The authors, who are members of Extension’s Ohio Watershed Network, wrote the guides based on their interviews with 24 streamside landowners in two urbanizing Ohio watersheds.

How climate change could affect Great Lakes fish and fishing

great lakes fishing

Ohio State’s Climate Change Outreach Team presents “Climate Change Impacts on Fisheries in Lakes Michigan and Huron” from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, featuring speakers from NOAA, USGS, the National Wildlife Federation and the University of Michigan. The renewable energy webinar we mentioned yesterday starts at the same time, so in case you miss this one for that one, the team does archive its webinars for later viewing. (Photo: Michigan Sea Grant.)

‘Dramatic’ future benefits from Ohio’s renewable energy laws

More from Thursday’s webinar flier: “Ohio’s renewable energy laws, Senate Bill 221, are newer and have a smaller requirement than most other states, but they have already reduced carbon emissions in Ohio by over 2.5 million tons through 2012, or around 0.5 percent per year. Looking forward, the reductions in emissions that will result from Ohio’s existing energy efficiency regulations will be dramatic in the state, cutting Ohio’s emissions by over 50 percent within the next 40 years.” Log in at noon, Dec. 12, to learn more.

Webinar: How renewable energy laws have cut U.S., Ohio carbon emissions

wind turbine in sun

You’re invited to participate in a webinar called “An Analysis of the Effect of Federal and State Energy Efficiency Regulations on Past and Future Ohio Carbon Emissions” from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12. The speakers will be from The Nature Conservancy, Resources for the Future, and CFAES’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics. “Renewable energy laws are remarkably effective at reducing carbon emissions,” the speakers say. How remarkable? In the past 10 years, they’ve cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 1.1 billion tons, or about 3.5 percent per year, and Ohio’s by 2.5 million tons. Login here.

Program on sustainable infrastructure available on YouTube

The Nov. 20 program of the Environmental Professionals Network (EPN), “Infrastructure in Decline; So Goes the Nation?” is available on YouTube (56:00). The program drew a near sell-out crowd of 210 people, says David Hanselmann, EPN’s coordinator. The network hosted the program in conjunction with the Columbus Metropolitan Club.

How OARDC, OSU Extension promote forest conservation

forestry degree graphicCFAES’s research arm, OARDC, has been named one of “100 Exemplary Sites Promoting Forest and Woodland Conservation.” Examples of OARDC’s forestry research include the Forest Ecosystem Restoration and Ecology Lab; the Lake States Fire Science Consortium; the Herms Lab and its work controlling invasive forest pests, especially the emerald ash borer; Eric McConnell’s wood science studies; and Roger Williams’ research on forest ecosystems. Together, these and other efforts support OARDC’s Environmental Quality and Sustainability Signature Area. At the same time, CFAES’s outreach arm, OSU Extension, also helps conserve Ohio’s forests, in large part, for instance, through the Ohio Woodland Stewards Program

OARDC among ‘100 Exemplary Sites Promoting Forest Conservation’

OSU OARDC Old Adminstration Building Fall color 11/15/13

We’re pleased to note that has named CFAES’s research arm, OARDC, as one of the “100 Exemplary Sites Promoting Forest and Woodland Conservation.” The sites on the list “are all about protecting woodlands and rainforests while still making efficient use of their resources,” says the website, which works to help students find careers in forestry. The School of Environment and Natural Resources offers CFAES’s forestry majors, while related majors are available in sustainability, environmental science, natural resources management, and environmental policy. You also can major in environment and natural resources at Ohio State ATI, CFAES’s associate-degree-granting unit. (Photo: K.D. Chamberlain.)

Into the great wide open

child in canoe for GBDecember’s monthly breakfast program by the Environmental Professionals Network will look at how to increase recreation access for central Ohioans, especially kids. John O’Meara, executive director of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks and an alumnus of CFAES’s School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR), will discuss outdoor recreation trends and the park’s strategic plans; and students from SENR and Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business will give a presentation on a proposed “Discovery Center for Outdoor Recreation and Education.” It’s Dec. 10 in Columbus. Details.