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2012-13 (PASS) Graduate Student Grant Awards

Agricultural information transfer in highland Guatemala

Project team: Kelsey Barale, International Agricultural Development, Agricultural Resource Economics Elana Peach-Fine, International Agricultural Development and Plant Pathology

This project aims to improve the dissemination of agricultural information to rural smallholders in the Western Highlands of Guatemala through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The project team will be pursuing small working group discussions and key informant interviews to assess how farmers obtain agricultural information, which methods of information transfer are most trusted and effective, and the potential of ICTs to improve the spread of agricultural information. Furthermore, the team will conduct participatory research with Guatemalan agricultural professionals to learn how they share information, and identify areas of overlap with the tools they will be evaluating. A set of concrete recommendations will be shared with the Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program, an initiative administered by UC Davis and funded by USAID.

Creative-capacity building and seed saving in Nepal

Project team: Karina Lundahl, International Agricultural Development

In humid climates zones such as Nepal, many small farmers use porous seed storage in direct sunlight. This method often exposes the seeds to high temperatures and humidity. As a result, seed storage practices in Nepal are often compromised by high moisture content. Consequently, food security is at stake. To address this problem, this project will focus on assessing current seed saving techniques and introducing new technologies utilizing Zeolite® beads. Creative capacity-building workshops will be held in rural Nepal and information will be gathered on recommendations for ongoing research utilizing Zeolite® beads for dissemination globally.

PASS 2013Advancing the Sidi Majbeur project through carob market analysis, youth soil conservation workshops, and developing public health/soil erosion links

Project team: Laurel Sellers, International Agricultural Development

Following a two-year effort in Morocco as a Peace Corps volunteer, Laurel will return to Sidi Majbeur to continue her close relationship with the community by advancing a community-based project to reinforce the resilience of the local ecosystem and strengthen adaptation capacities.  The community has identified the most visible and important environmental issue in the area as land degradation and erosion. As a result, this project will attempt to prevent further erosion and land degradation by introducing a pilot application of vetiver, in combination with fruit trees, establishing better land practices to retain the top soil, and rehabilitating arable lands.

A collaborative needs assessment in Sabana Grande, Nicaragua: identifying livestock health concerns

Project team: Carolina Vicario, Rennie Putnam, Blanca Camacho of the Department of Veterinary Medicine

This student-driven project, with faculty mentorship, will investigate specific health needs of livestock and create educational modules to address these concerns. These steps will allow the project team to work with the community and existing governmental programs, empower community members with livestock-related knowledge and skills, and strengthen the ties between human and animal health workers in Sabana Grande. This initiative is follow up on earlier efforts in June 2012 when the project team of four veterinary students, one MPH student, and one DVM travelled to Sabana Grande, Nicaragua to collect demographic data and gain an understanding of existing health infrastructure as well as human and animal health issues present within the community. Based on the high need and interest in veterinary care, Carolina and her team are focusing their efforts this year to further characterize and meet the livestock needs and concerns of Sabana Grande and surrounding communities.

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Testing the efficiency and farmer acceptability of Zeolite® seed storage systems for bean seeds in rural Uganda

Project team: Erin Wilkus

Zeolite® beads offer one alternative to the current system of seed stock management that is intended to increase their shelf life. The goal of this project isto initiate a pilot test to determine the efficiency and farmer acceptability of the Zeolite® seed storage system. In order to accomplish this, the project team has PASS 2013 2outlined three main objectives: 1) to establish local knowledge and build trust with the community, 2) co-create surveys with community members to qualify the project, and 3) determine the feasibility of the pilot Zeolite® trials on household seed varieties. This pilot study contributes to a 5-year program headed by UC Davis Plant Sciences Professor, Paul Gepts that targets four communities within Uganda. The goal of this 5-year program is to establish drought resistant seed stock varieties and locally driven seed stock management practices.

Improving health worker education and enhancing public health in Sabana Grande, Nicaragua

Project team: Fiona Whitton, Leah Colyer, Molly Liepnieks, Ryen Morey of the Department of Veterinary Medicine

In early 2012, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine established a partnership with the UC Davis School of Medicine and Public Health Sciences, and began a collaboration to develop a One Health project in Sabana Grande, Nicaragua. This project is multifaceted, with different groups of students and faculty focusing on specific areas of human, ecological and animal health needs. The aim of this project  will be to address educational and public health concerns within the community, bringing informational modules and clinical workshops to community health workers and local youth, and utilizing a bi-directional information exchange to enhance the cultural and educational experience of the community of Sabana Grande and student researchers. This educational framework will provide the project, and the community, with a sustainable method of information dissemination, will help stimulate economic growth, and will ensure continual communication, collaboration and cross-disciplinary learning.

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