The first Pan American Research and Extension Virtual Symposium on Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources was organized on December 17, 2021 by West Virginia State University under the leadership of Drs. Ayesha Sarker (WVSU), Jose U. Toledo (Southern University (SU)), and Marikis Alvarez (DSU). The symposium, organized in collaboration with the CEGFSD, the 1890 Universities Foundation, and the 1890 Universities’ faculty, had three main objectives: (1) foster international partnerships that strengthen agricultural development in the Latin American and Caribbean countries; (2) engage researchers in addressing new and emerging animal and plant pests and diseases; and agricultural disaster recovery; and (3) foster and strengthen collaborative and integrative multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research and extension activities.
Several topics were discussed at the symposium including an overview of the Center of Excellence for Global Food Security and Defense, the policy systems approach to contemporary food systems transformation; an overview of programs at several institutions such as the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), UACh, etc.; an overview of the Center of Excellence for Nutrition, Health, Wellness and Quality of Life; agroecological intensification (CATIE); building graduate programs (UACh); collaborative program between USAID and Delaware State University (DSU); and improving food safety and nutrition through research and extension (WVSU).
A group discussion identified common issues which could be addressed via collaborative endeavors. These issues include pine bark beetle and the impact of climate change on food security and defense; emerging issues and technologies; and capacity building. Finally, recommendations were made to continue this conversation with potential international visits and students/faculty exchange opportunities.