Working with a great group of Egyptian ag faculty members

Working with a great group of Egyptian agricultural faculty members in 2008.

As I write from JFK, it’s my last hour on U.S. soil for a couple of weeks.  The remainder of the month will find me working with MUCIA and Agricultural Technical Schools in Egypt for the second year in the row. I consider it a privilege to assist with the training and development of agriculturists through projects like this one.

When my impending trip came up in conversation with U.S. friends, the most common reaction was “why Egypt?” – the same question as when I’ve worked in the Ukraine and the Baltics.  The answer is always the same; I enjoy helping agriculturists in developing countries. And, frankly, I think Americans need an expanded global perspective to appreciate our own fortune.  These trips always give me far more lessons than what I deliver.

Since my first international trip when I was a college sophomore and an intern in Italy, the joys of seeing the world – and helping others in different countreis- came alive for me.  It’s hard to forget the shocking images of squatters’ camps in South Africa, the communism numbed mindset of older generations in Eastern Europe or the breathtaking need in other developing countries.

This has never been truer than at a time where we have more than one billion people without enough food.  World Food Day was last week. The FAO reports  an estimated increase of 105 million hungry people in 2009, which means there are now 1.02 billion malnourished people in the world. The bottom line is that almost one sixth of all humanity is suffering from hunger.

The need will never be solved without improving rural conditions, teaching more people about modern food production and the adaption of biotechnology to deliver essential minerals/vitamins/proteins.  Whether you’re a part of agriculture or not, I urge you to consider these points in solving a problem that is so much broader than what we see in the United States.

As is the case with all international trips, I’ll return to the U.S.A. with a changed perspective. My hope is to be sharing some of the sights, experiences and people with you through the blog. Until then, please consider a perspective more global than your own food plate. After all there are one billion mouths that would like to be where you are.