Center for Tropical Agriculture


Material Information

Center for Tropical Agriculture
Physical Description:
Mixed Material
University of Florida
University of Florida
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, FL

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Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved by the source institution.
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Full Text

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The University of Florida is uniquely suited to
assist agricultural development in tropical regions
throughout the world. The major source of
agricultural revenue in Florida is from tropical
crops, and the state's location at the edge of the
tropics presents similar production and
management problems to those in many tropical
Less than fifty years ago agricultural yields in
Florida were not much higher than those in many
developing countries today. Farm income was
correspondingly low. But since the 1940's Florida
farm income has increased rapidly. Much of this
growth can be attributed to the university's
research and extension programs. New
techniques have been developed in plant and
animal breeding, pest and disease control, and
land management. The subtropical climate of
Florida, once considered a liability, is now one of
its greatest assets.
Recognizing that the University of Florida could
make contributions to agricultural development
in the tropics, the Florida Board of Regents
authorized a Center for Tropical Agriculture in
1965. The Center is organized as a component of
the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
(IFAS), the University of Florida's statewide
complex of teaching, research, and extension
programs in agriculture. The Director of the
Center reports directly to the Vice-President of
Agricultural Affairs and is advised on policy
issues by other center directors and department
chairmen. International program coordinators,
located in each department, provide assistance at
the program implementation level.
This administrative organization permits the
Center to draw upon findings from applicable
research, as well as services of a professional
staff of over 1000 scientists. Approximately one-
third of these scientists, located on the main
campus and throughout the state, have had
overseas experience and are engaged in training,
research, or service activities involving tropical
agriculture. The University of Florida's broad
foundation of human and institutional resources
enables it to effectively assist agricultural
development in tropical regions of the world.

There is a rising demand for scientists and
technicians dedicated to improving production in
lands where hunger is common. This calls for an
increase of university graduates with training in
tropical agriculture. They must be both adaptive
and innovative in their approach to technological
problems. But perhaps even more important,
they must be able to communicate with the
people of the land in which they work. New
approaches are needed in the training of both
U.S. and foreign students for service in
international agriculture. As a continuing effort,
the Center for Tropical Agriculture assists
departments in the Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences to achieve excellence in
their tropical programs.

Minor in Tropical Agriculture
An interdisciplinary Minor in Tropical
Agriculture is available to students at both the
Master's and Ph.D. levels majoring in agriculture,
forestry, animal science, and other fields where
knowledge of the tropics is relevant. The minor
may include courses treating characteristics of
the tropics its soils, water, vegetation, climate,
agricultural production and the language and
culture of tropical countries.
Certificate in Tropical Agriculture
The Certificate in Tropical Agriculture (CTA) is
available for any student enrolled at the
University of Florida. The CTA requires a
minimum of 27 hours of requirements, with nine
hours needed in the social sciences and 18 hours
in the agricultural sciences.
Up to seven hours of research credit, or its
equivalent, may be applied toward CTA
requirements when the research and experience
have a clear relationship to agriculture in
developing countries. In addition, candidates
must show competence in an appropriate foreign
Each student is assigned to an interdisciplinary
committee of three faculty members which is
responsible for selecting the appropriate courses
commensurate with the student's background.
Students interested in this program should
consult the Dean for Resident Instruction in the
College of Agriculture.

Foreign Students/Financial Support
Training foreign students in tropical agriculture

is a major activity in the College of Agriculture
and the Center for Tropical Agriculture. One out
of every five students studying agriculture is
from a foreign country. Practically all foreign
students enrolled in agriculture are from tropical
regions, and most are at the graduate level.
Graduate students in tropical agriculture
generally have financial support which enables
them to devote full time to course work and
research. Many hold fellowships from their
governments, foundations, industry, the U.S.
Agency for International Development, the
Organization of American States, or the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The Center awards a limited number of
graduate research assistantships through
departments for tropically oriented research.
Departments having research programs related to
tropical agriculture offer support through
departmental assistantships. Thesis and
dissertation research is often carried out in a
tropical country or region.

Special Training
The Center for Tropical Agriculture conducts
special training programs in cooperation with the
U.S. Agency for International Development, the
U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and
Agriculture Organization and private foundations.
Each year numerous visitors receive special
training in agriculture on the university's campus
and at the various Agricultural Research and
Education Centers located throughout the state.
These visitors follow programs in academic
training, field production courses, consultation
with staff members, and observation of
experimental and commercial crop and livestock
management adapted to Florida's subtropical
Special short courses sponsored by the Center
include small-farmer credit policies, farming
systems research and extension, organic soils,
vegetable production, tropical fruit production,
livestock and pasture management, integrated
pest management and low-energy, post-harvest
technology. These courses, offered on campus
and in various regions of the world, are an
important part of the Center for Tropical
Agriculture's commitment to improving human
resources and solving agricultural problems.

Latin American Livestock and
Poultry Conference
For seventeen years the Conference on
Livestock and Poultry in Latin America has been
presented annually at the University of Florida in
conjunction with the Florida Beef Cattle and
Dairy Short Courses. The conference is conducted
in Spanish with the proceedings published both in
Spanish and in English by the Center for Tropical
During the week-long conference, research
papers are presented and seminars are coupled
with tours of university research units and
private livestock enterprises. Attendance in
recent years has averaged in excess of 150
The Latin American Livestock and Poultry
Conference is important because Florida, as a
subtropical region, shares many of the same
livestock production problems as those faced by
Latin American countries. The conference
demonstrates the interest of the university to
collaborate with Latin America to improve the
quality of life in the hemisphere.
Language Training
An English Language Institute is located at the
University of Florida for the benefit of students
whose native language is not English. The
primary purpose of the institute is intensive
training in spoken and written English. A
secondary purpose is to give foreign students a
period of adjustment to life in the United States
before beginning their regular university studies.
Through the Department of Romance
Languages and Literatures, the Center offers
Spanish and French instruction to university
faculty so they can develop language abilities
critical to effective international involvement.
Special intensive courses to prepare faculty for
working in overseas contracts as well as non-
intensive language training are provided.
Faculty Development
The future of Florida's agriculture, immediate
and distant, will be influenced by situations and
problems in locations other than the U.S.
Knowledge to deal with agricultural problems in
tropical countries and in Florida results from
faculty participation in varied international
research, training and technical assistance
endeavors. The Center for Tropical Agriculture
provides programs to improve the capability of

faculty to address problems of agricultural
production in the tropics. In addition to language
training and cultural orientation, faculty
development programs include travel grants to
international conferences and workshops, support
for research and training programs, and
enhancement of faculty abilities to respond to
the needs of ongoing technical assistance
Publications/Visiting Lecturers
The Center for Tropical Agriculture publishes
various conference reports, the CTA publication
series, a general newsletter and a farming
systems newsletter, and co-publishes agricultural
research reports and monographs with university
departments. The Center has also published, in
conjunction with counterpart institutions,
technical and farmer bulletins in countries where
development assistance has been provided. The
publication of books on topics of importance to
tropical agriculture is also supported by the
Exchange of ideas in tropical agriculture is
stimulated by inviting nationally and
internationally recognized experts in various
fields. Some teach entire courses while others
participate in symposia and special seminars.
Lecturers with experience in the African, Latin
American and Asian tropics help to broaden the
international background of faculty and students.

Experience in Florida has shown that a
continuous flow of new and appropriate
technology is indispensable to agricultural
growth. To provide this technology, the
university's home campus and 22 Agricultural
Research Centers statewide have concentrated
skills to conduct multidisciplinary research.
Through the Center for Tropical Agriculture,
the scientific competence of the Institute of Food
and Agricultural Sciences is linked with research
institutions in tropical countries. With the help of
long-standing contacts in the public and private
sectors in developing countries, the Center has
built a strong and viable research program in
tropical agriculture. For example, through its
long history of association with the Escuela
Agricola Panamericana (EAP) in Honduras, the
Center has supported collaborative research
between university faculty and EAP faculty,
many of whom are graduates of the University of
Florida's subtropical climate and growing
conditions are similar to those of many of the
world's developing countries. Almost surrounded
by water and with an ecology unique in the
United States, Florida is unable to share greatly
in the research output of other states. Thus,
research and germplasm from tropical regions of
the world are particularly important to Florida.
As a result of joint agricultural research, both
Florida and tropical countries benefit. For
example, IFAS scientists developed in Costa Rica
the sterile male technique for controlling medfly
infestations and were involved in the
introduction of parasites from Asia to help
control citrus blackfly.
Citrus canker was introduced into Florida in
the 1920's and was eliminated by the destruction
of infected trees a technique which at present
may not be feasible. Each year infected material
is intercepted in Florida plant quarantine
stations. An IFAS scientist is working in
Argentina, where citrus canker is widespread, to
develop a cure.
Recently, heartwater disease has been
introduced into the Caribbean region from Africa
and is devastating small animal production. Since
vectors for heartwater exist in Florida, IFAS
researchers are working on the disease. Work is
also being done in the Caribbean to help
eradicate African swine fever, a potentially

serious problem for Florida. In collaboration with
the Instituto Inter-Americano de Ciencias
Agricolas (IICA), a study is underway of blue
tongue, a viral infection of large and small
ruminants which inhibits the importation of
tropically adapted livestock into the U.S.
In 1974 the University of Florida, through the
Center for Tropical Agriculture, received a
USAID contract to study the mineral status of
grazing livestock in developing countries. The
mineral nutrition program is being conducted in
14 countries in Latin America, five in Africa and
four in Southeast Asia. With the goal of
stimulating mineral deficiency research in the
participating countries, the program focuses on
improving livestock production and thereby
increasing meat and protein availability.
The Center also administers a USAID contract
to study associative nitrogen fixation with
research in this important area being conducted
on a multinational scale. Increasing worldwide
demand for food, coupled with rising costs and
unreliable supplies of nitrogen fertilizers,
emphasizes the need for full exploitation of
biological nitrogen fixation, particularly in
developing countries where food needs are
A recent development at the University of
Florida has been the Farming Systems Research
and Extension (FSR/E) Program. The focus of this
program is on technology generation (or
adaptation) that combines the expertise of
biological, economic and social scientists with the
practical understanding of farmers. The FSR/E
program is both domestic and international in
scope and has the complementary functions of
research, extension, instruction and technical

Technical Assistance
Technical assistance contracts are an integral
part of the Center for Tropical Agriculture. They
provide a mechanism for carrying out problem-
solving activities jointly with agricultural
institutions in the tropics.
Contracts for technical assistance are financed
by international lending institutions, private
foundations, foreign governments, and the U.S.
foreign aid program. Provisions of the contracts
may call for specific short-term studies or for
technical assistance programmed over many
years. Although work in the past has been
concentrated in the tropics of Latin America,
more recently the Center has become involved
with providing technical assistance to African
nations and has a continuing interest in the
tropics of Asia.
A backstop committee system is an important
aspect of the country contract programs. Major
technical assistance and research efforts are
backstopped by multidisciplinary committees
comprised of campus faculty. These committees
serve as a communication link with overseas
faculty and provide a support base for technical
needs within the contracts.
Past technical assistance contracts in tropical
countries include Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa
Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ghana, Guyana,
Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Niger, Panama,
Venezuela and Vietnam. Current major contracts
are described below:
Farming Systems Support Project
Through a 1982 cooperative agreement with
USAID, the University of Florida became the lead
institution of a five-year farming systems project.
This project, which involves collaborative
assistance from various other institutions,
includes technical support to farming systems
research and extension (FSR/E) projects in
developing countries, short-term training to
strengthen the capacity of countries to perform
FSR/E work, networking activities to facilitate
communication among FSR/E practitioners and
state-of-the-art research to yield FSR/E field
The Center for Tropical Agriculture administers
a six-year USAID contract to support the
development of the University Center for
Agriculture in Dschang, Cameroon. This project,

which began in 1982, entails developing the
agricultural university in Cameroon based on the
U.S. Land-Grant University model. It is a vital
part of Cameroon's plan to reorganize and
expand its educational system so that university
programs are more closely directed towards the
country's development needs. More than 50
agricultural professionals from Cameroon will
receive graduate-level training at the University
of Florida and other U.S. universities.

In 1980, the Center entered into a five-year
USAID contract in Malawi. The overall goal of
this contract is to strengthen the research
capability of the Malawi Department of
Agricultural Research with the ultimate aim of
improving small-farmer productivity. An
important part of the contract is the provision of
graduate-level education, primarily at the
University of Florida, for more than 30
agricultural professionals from Malawi.

The University of Florida contract in Ecuador is
implemented through a project called the Rural
Technology Transfer System (RTTS). Working

through the Ecuadorian Council for Science and
Technology (CONACYT), the objective of the
RTTS project is to address constraints to rural
technology generation and dissemination. Various
subprojects designed to improve the rural
development process have been initiated since
the contract began in 1981. The Ecuador contract
is funded by the U.S. Agency for International
Costa Rica
Based on the university's long history of
involvement with Costa Rica, beginning in 1954,
a Technical Support to Mission (TSM) contract
was signed with the USAID mission in Costa Rica
in 1981. The purpose of the contract is to
provide support to the local mission such that
continuity occurs in agricultural development and
technical assistance program efforts.
The University of Florida and the Escuela
Agricola Panamericana (EAP) in Honduras have a
history of over 30 years of cooperative teaching
and research activities. In 1981, a memorandum
of agreement furthered the basis for cooperative
research and instruction between the two

Supporting Resources
The University of Florida has long been aware
of Florida's unique international position. By the
beginning of the century, the University had
begun to focus attention toward Latin America,
with advanced degrees given in Latin American
Studies as early as 1927.
During the last two decades, the University of
Florida's commitment to international studies has
expanded rapidly. There has also been a
corresponding increase in the number of faculty
members involved in teaching and research
within the field of international studies.
Council for International Studies
and Programs
The Council for International Studies and
Programs is the formal coordinating unit for
international activities at the university. The
duties of the Council are to develop and provide
administration for coordination, policy guidance,
support and dissemination of information for all
units that have international components. The
Director of the Center for Tropical Agriculture is
a member of the Council.
Center for Latin American Studies
The Center for Latin American Studies is
responsible for directing and coordinating
graduate training, research and other academic
activities related to Latin America. The Center
offers an interdisciplinary degree, Master of Arts
in Latin American Studies, and provides
Certificates in Latin American Studies at the
Bachelor's, Master's and Ph.D. levels.
Center for African Studies
The Center for African Studies, established in
1966, is responsible for the direction and
coordination of interdisciplinary instructional and
research activities related to Africa. It cooperates
with university departments, schools and colleges
in administering and staffing a coordinated
program which offers a Certificate in African
Studies in conjunction with the Bachelor's,
Master's and Ph.D. degrees.
Center for Tropical Animal Health
In order to develop a program in tropical
veterinary medicine as an integral component of
its teaching, research and service programs, the
College of Veterinary Medicine established the
Center for Tropical Animal Health in 1981. The
Center works with other university centers,

colleges and departments to develop
multidisciplinary approaches to problems of
animal health and production in the tropics.

Training in Alternative Energy
The College of Engineering, through a 1979
cooperative agreement with the U.S. Agency for
International Development, offers a program to
train scientists and engineers from developing
countries in the major alternative energy
technologies biomass, hydro, solar and wind.
Training in both the technical aspects of
alternative energy technologies and the
socioeconomic aspects of their application is

Organization for Tropical Studies
The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS),
located in Costa Rica, is a consortium of major
educational research institutions in the U.S. and
abroad created to promote understanding of
tropical environments and their intelligent use by
man. The University of Florida is a charter
member. Courses are offered in the agricultural
sciences, forestry, geography, marine science,

meteorology and terrestrial biology. OTS also
offers pilot-study research grants to junior
faculty and graduate students who have had
limited tropical experience.
Programs of the College of Arts and
The College of Arts and Sciences offers several
integrated programs in comparative and foreign
area studies. These programs provide a broad
foundation for students preparing for graduate
work and for those who are planning a career in
teaching or government service. Programs
include Asian studies, Soviet and East European
studies, West European studies and International
International Activities in the
Professional Colleges
International work plays an important role in
the professional colleges of the University of
Florida. All of them enroll students from foreign
countries, have staff members with foreign
experience and offer courses supporting
international studies as an integral part of their
curricula. In addition to the College of
Agriculture, the Colleges of Architecture and
Fine Arts, Business Administration, Education,
Journalism and Communication, Law, and the
Colleges of the Health Center have organized
international programs.
Advisor to Foreign Students
The Office of International Student Services is
the center for services performed on behalf of
foreign students from their arrival on campus
until their departure for home. The office
coordinates with other university units and is
charged with responsibilities involving evaluation
of financial statements, certificates of eligibility,
visa applications, orientation, health,
immigration, legal problems and liaison with
embassies and U.S. government agencies.
University of Florida Library
Holdings of the University Library number over
2 million cataloged volumes and a large number
of uncataloged documents and papers. The Latin
American collection of the University Library
contains over 175,000 volumes, making it one of
the largest collections in the country, with
special strength in the Caribbean area. The
branch library serving the special needs of the
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is the
Hume Library located in McCarty Hall.