July 02, 2009

SIUC renews agreement with Pakistani university

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Northwest Frontier Province Agricultural University in Pakistan renewed an agreement in June that enhances faculty research projects and interests.

The renewed five-year memorandum of understanding is with the University’s College of Agricultural Sciences, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Northwest Frontier Province Agricultural University (NWFPAU) in Peshawar, Pakistan. The collaboration began in 1984 with subsequent renewals in 1994 and 2004.

“The SIUC College of Agricultural Sciences’ partnership with the University of Illinois and the Northwest Province Agricultural University in Pakistan continues the College’s long standing commitment to maintain a global perspective in our teaching, research and outreach missions,” Dean Gary L. Minish said. “It further emphasizes our commitment to providing a nutritious, safe and readily available food supply for people around the world while at the same time enhancing the environment.”

Oval Myers, professor emeritus in the Department of Plant, Soil Science and Agricultural Systems, said he is confident the agreement will continue to generate benefits. While student exchanges have occurred and will continue at the graduate level, Myers said another benefit will be faculty exchanges that will, in turn, also benefit students.

“It has the potential for research relationships in which hopefully funding from one, or both sides, can work on a project,” said Myers, project director at NWFPAU for three years in the early 1990s, and who has worked in neighboring Afghanistan for more than six years.

The Peshawar university is very close to Afghanistan and “already has helped us tremendously with agricultural development workshops in Afghanistan,” he said.

Renewing the agreement “not only builds on the long-standing cooperation between the universities, but also positions them for continued interaction in an important period in U.S. and Pakistan relations,” Myers said.

A visiting NWFPAU instructor spent one year working with Phil Eberle, an associate professor in the Department of Agribusiness Economics. Another instructor is looking at obtaining a Fulbright Scholarship to come to Carbondale for research in plant protection, Eberle said.

The continuing cooperation is important, said Eberle, who has visited Peshawar twice.

“It provides them with the ability to expose their faculty members to more advanced research and knowledge in their particular field,” he said. “It also may provide the opportunity for us to go there and have an international experience, and see some of the problems they face in agriculture in a developing country. There are mutual benefits that come from that.”