Colorado State recently hosted the 2nd International Conference on Agricultural Extension and Technology Transfer, and this event – a follow-up to last year’s held in Hefei, Anhui Province, China – laid further groundwork for establishing university-based Extension in China.
In all, nearly 80 people attended the conference held Oct. 2-5, including representatives from 10 Chinese universities and Higher Education Press, the largest publisher of university and college-level textbooks in China and one of the top 50 publishers in the world.
Listen, talk, make progress
“CSU and Anhui Agricultural University (AAU) are the lead institutions for the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology for significantly facilitating greater partnerships between China’s very large Extension system, located in the Ministry of Agriculture, and Chinese agricultural universities,” said Lou Swanson, vice president for Engagement. “This is an opportunity for globalizing CSU Extension and enhancing our long history of technology transfer and rural development through a direct partnership with AAU.”
During his remarks, Swanson emphasized that technology transfer and the intentional redevelopment of Chinese agriculture and food systems require local and regional attention to existing farming systems, markets, ecologies and cultural orientations. “What a wonderful opportunity for CSU Extension.”
Conference breakout sessions focused on research and best practices that related to the successful promotion of university-based Extension, including several with agricultural and technology transfer applications. The Chinese government’s recently announced “Five-Year Plan for Agriculture” places emphasis on connecting the talent at agricultural universities with China’s Extension services in facilitating these new agriculture, environment and rural development policies.
Old friends, new faces
“We are pleased to see old friends and meet new faces,” Anhui Agricultural University President Beijiu Cheng said. “Over 40 Chinese universities are expected to contribute to this process of establishing university-based Extension and technology transfer in my country. This conference – and future ones – will help to facilitate added conversations between our two universities and our two countries.”
The effort is being joined by several additional U.S. partners: Oregon State University, Purdue University and the University of California System’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Representatives from each institution attended and presented a comparative overview of U.S. Extension systems.
Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture, provided keynote remarks to the conference.
“Our role is to help facilitate user-informed science that transforms lives. This requires that knowledge is translated into innovations, and solutions, that are delivered to the end users to address problems,” said Ramaswamy. “The conversation at the 2nd International Conference on Agricultural Extension and Technology Transfer was in that vein, and NIFA looks forward to working with America’s land-grant universities, such as Colorado State University and others, to ensure that knowledge does transform lives.”
Extension offices, RMNP
Conference attendees had the chance to visit one of two Colorado Extension offices, in Boulder and Adams counties, where Chinese travelers experienced an Extension office in operation and learned about programs, staffing, funding and how each office works with their county government.
Visitors also traveled to Rocky Mountain National Park to meet CSU researchers Jill Baron and Dana Winkelman, who discussed their studies on agriculture-related air changes and its effects on the National Park, as well as healthy stream ecosystems and the long-term effects of previous land management practices.
There will be a sustained commitment on university-based Extension in China from CSU for decades to come, according to Swanson. “There is an opportunity to combine resources and talent to create sustainable methods of food production, food systems and food availability, affordability and security,” he said.
The annual conference will move to a yet-to-be-determined location in China for 2017.