Kansas State University


Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification

Tag: Agriculture

Bridging the Gap: Connecting Women in Research, Farming and the Peace Corps

 Photo Credit: LaTrese Taylor

I remember vividly that a desire to travel and have a career in social programs was borne from my grandmother’s dreams, conversations with her, and the humble way in which she lived her life. Up until middle school, our household did not have a television, so listening to the radio led us into countless discussions on social topics in the United States and abroad. Our immediate family gave to churches, to other family members and friends, and of course, to organizations such as “Feed the Children”, which worked extensively in Africa.

Fast-forward thirty-five years. I am now a military retiree and reflecting on a family dynamic that brought an awareness of needs outside of my community and the United States, and making a transition into international development felt like the natural next step, only I didn’t know what that looked like until Peace Corps (PC) Senegal began their work with Kansas State University’s Sustainable Intensification and Innovation Lab (SIIL). In 2018, PC Senegal, SIIL and the Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA) partnered together to demonstrate new agricultural technology and innovations in the fields of PC/Senegal’s Master Farmers. Under this program, Senegalese graduate student Khady Diome came to Keur Bakary, a small village in Senegal, to lead a research site.  She worked on testing millet and fertilizer varieties as well as seed-spacing techniques in the fields of three local farmers.

In conferences and one-on-one discussions, what echoed in my head time and again is that there needs to be an intermediary with the ability to connect more research and pilot projects to government organizations and institutions, as well as smallholder farmers, without a long lead-time. With this trifecta partnership, we are building synergies that will be able to breach this paradigm and, in turn, Master Farmers like Chiekh Dieng can work with researchers to identify more readily technology that has been tailored to his community’s farming practices and challenges, but with “scaled up” benefits for the broader Senegalese farming system.

ISRA researcher Khadi Diome and Master Farmer Chiekh Dieng 
Photo Credit: LaTrese Taylor

As I prepare to wrap up my third year with Peace Corps Senegal, I plan to return to American University in Washington D.C. to pursue a Master’s Degree in International Development, with focus in West African Food Security, armed with the hands-on experience in working with researchers. Working with PC Senegal to manage this partnership also gave me a birds-eye view of what research-led youth development looks like in Senegal, and how research that incorporates nutrition-led agriculture, can fit into the greater system. In this particular scenario, my primary role was creating the linkage between the smallholder farmer and the researcher, and while it may have been a small role, it was still one with a potentially large impact in making these type of relations more customary in the future. This theme obviously warrants more discussion and work, and I plan continue working in the international development community to see how that unfolds and how I can contribute to its growth.


LaTrese Taylor

Food Security Peace Corps Volunteer Leader

Peace Corps Senegal 2016-2019

Sustaining the Future of Cambodian Agriculture


Engaging young people in agriculture is a crucial priority to maintain the food supply and economy.

We’ve seen the seemingly trend-line here in the United States for the last century: it’s difficult to engage youth on the farm.

Similar challenges also exist in Cambodia. Not only do the young people not want to stay in the countryside on the farm, they often want to move to the larger urban areas. This migration of youth could have dire consequences for the future of agriculture in a country where most of the population is dependent on farming.

The government is addressing the problem by exposing young people to the opportunities in agriculture and making an agriculture education more attractive and affordable.

And a group of USAID-affiliated researchers is doing their part to help.

Continue reading “Sustaining the Future of Cambodian Agriculture”

SIIL Geospatial and Farming Systems Research Consortium to host workshop in Tanzania

The Geospatial and Farming Systems Research Consortium, funded by the Feed the Future Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab and in partnership with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, will host a 5 day hands-on workshop on data science for agricultural development on August 15-19, 2016 in Arusha, Tanzania. All Innovation Lab partners working in Tanzania and the surrounding region are invited to attend.

The workshop will include an introduction to the R software, and using R for data analysis and modeling, with an emphasis on spatial data. Case studies will include the use of climate, soils, crop, and health and remote sensing data. Participants will learn how to integrate various data types and analytical approaches (e.g. machine learning and simulation modeling) into a single work flow. The number of participants is limited, and prospective attendees must complete the event application.

There is no cost for attending the workshop. Lodging and meals will be provided, and travel grants may be available upon request. For more information, please contact Ani Ghosh.

Scholarship offered for students in Bangladesh

For students in Bangladesh, a new opportunity has just been announced. The SIIL-Polder Scholarship was released this month for both M.S. and Ph.D. students in the following research areas: agronomy/water management, human nutrition, socioeconomics/economics, gender in agriculture, and environment. The scholarship is available for students that are enrolled in any university in Bangladesh, are involved in the field of rice science and related systems research and are proficient in English. There is a monthly stipend associated with the position. Interested parties should apply online. After fully completing the required forms, students will be kept up to date with the status of their application. The deadline for application is June 30, 2016. Please consider applying for or sharing this exciting opportunity!

Click here to visit the website where you can find more information on the scholarship as well as directions on how to apply.