Center for Tropical Agriculture


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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
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University of Florida
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All rights reserved by the source institution.
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Full Text
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Center for Tropical Agriculture

Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida



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Hope for feeding and clothing the world's rapidly expanding popula-
tion lies mainly in increasing agricultural productivity in the tropics.
Within this region are the most diverse and potentially productive of all
the earth's underdeveloped resources. Extensive areas of the tropics are
endowed with a year-round combination of sunshine and rainfall for
optimum plant growth. And yet vast areas remain unused. It is a
paradox that most of the world's hungry people live in the tropics.
Recognizing the problem and potential, the Florida Board of
Regents authorized a Center for Tropical Agriculture in January, 1965.
The Center was 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.
This administrative organization permits the Center to draw upon
findings from applicable research as well as services of a professional
staff of nearly 800 scientists. Approximately one-fifth 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.
Florida is uniquely suited to assist the development of tropical
agriculture. The State's major source of agricultural revenue, totaling
more than $1.4 billion annually, is from tropical crops. Its location at
the edge of the tropics presents similar production and management
problems. Less than 25 years ago, agricultural yields in Florida were no
higher than the lowest in many tropical countries today. Farm income
was correspondingly low. But since 1960 Florida farm income has
increased at a more rapid rate than any other state. 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.
In the southern part of the State, IFAS Research and Education
Centers concentrate on production and management of crops and
livestock for warm climates. These efforts within the State, as well as
overseas activities, often involve several departments working together.
For example, in carrying out research under a Ford Foundation grant
for tropical livestock production, scientists from the Animal Science,
Agronomy, Food and Resource Economics, Soils, and Veterinary
Science Departments cooperated. Much of the tropical research in the
future will require such a multidisciplinary approach.
Resources at the University of Florida offer the potential for devel-
opment of broader based and more effective international assistance.
Medicine, the social sciences, education and agriculture all have strong
interests in the environment and population of the tropics. To neglect
any one of these disciplines in planning would seriously limit develop-
ment. Few universities have such a combination of complementary
resources available on one campus.


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.
Opportunities are many, both for U.S. citizens and
nationals of tropical countries. Commitments of the govern-
ments, the United Nations, foundations and international
lending agencies to tropical agriculture are massive.
Established companies producing fruits, vegetable oils, and
other products are expanding operations in the tropics.
Firms manufacturing agricultural chemicals and machinery
have extensive overseas operations. These activities require
new manpower.
The highly specialized manpower requirements of agri-
cultural enterprises in industrialized nations cannot always
be reconciled with the needs of the developing world when
planning a curriculum. A new approach is needed in the
training of both U.S. and foreign students for service in

international agriculture. The continuing effort of the
Center for Tropical Agriculture will be focused on assisting
departments in the Institute of Food and Agricultural
Sciences to achieve excellence in their tropical programs.
An interdisciplinary minor in Tropical Agriculture is
offered at the graduate level in the College of Agriculture.
Students in any relevant field may develop a minor program
based on a combination of tropically oriented courses in
agriculture, language and area studies, and thesis research of
concern to the tropics. In-depth training is offered in ani-
mal production, agronomy, development economics, plant
protection, horticulture, and soils. Each tropical course
provides information for adapting Florida experience to
environmentally similar, but culturally different situations.
Students minoring in Tropical Agriculture may receive
credit for courses in other colleges which improves their
background for overseas work. In addition to excellent
language training, courses dealing with cultures and re-
sources of different regions are available. The Center for
Latin American and African Studies emphasizes the social,
cultural, and political factors in the development of those
regions. Students in the social sciences studying agrarian
problems may increase the effectiveness of their training by
taking a minor in Tropical Agriculture. A Certificate in
Tropical Agriculture is awarded to those graduate students
who evidence by their academic preparation a commitment
to a career in tropical work.
An undergraduate student may specialize in tropical
agriculture within any of the 16 major departments in the
College of Agriculture. These include the disciplines of
plant sciences, animal sciences, soils, plant pathology,
entomology and nematology, and agricultural economics.

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 three graduate
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.
They provide varied and valuable perspectives in class
discussions and seminars. From 1960 through 1970 under-
graduate and graduate degrees in agriculture were awarded
to 463 foreign students from approximately 50 countries.

Graduate students interested 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 Organi-
zation of American States, or the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations.

The Center awards a limited number of graduate re-
search assistantships through departments for tropically
oriented research. Departments having research programs
related to tropical agriculture offer support through depart-
mental assistantships. Thesis research is generally carried
out in the tropical country or region. These assistantships
are open to both U.S. and foreign students. Funds for travel
and expenses in the field are provided by grants-in-aid. The
Center offers small grants to outstanding U.S. students
preparing applications under the Foreign Area Fellowship
Program to permit them to conduct preliminary field work.
From January 1, 1965, through December 31, 1970, the
Center awarded 73 research grants, 37 travel grants for
research, 97 travel grants to attend professional meetings
and 8 department grants. More than 20 graduate students
each year are supported financially by the Center.

The Center for Tropical Agriculture conducts special
training programs in cooperation with the U.S. Agency for
International Development, the Foreign Economic Develop-
ment Service of the U.S. Department for Agriculture, the
Food and Agriculture Organization and private founda-
tions. During the past three years 235 foreign visitors re-
ceived special training in agriculture on the University's
campus and at the various Agricultural Research and Educa-
tion Centers located throughout the State. These visitors
followed programs in academic training, field production
courses, consultation with staff members, and observation
of experimental and commercial crop and livestock manage-
ment adapted to Florida's subtropical climate.
Special short courses, sponsored by the Center for
Tropical Agriculture, have included fertilizer technology,
vegetable production, and resource development. Other
special short courses related to tropical agriculture will be
sponsored in the future. A new aspect of training is the
offering of production-oriented field courses. These draw
upon the unique resources of the Agricultural Research and
Education Centers and private agricultural enterprises
located in the southern part of the State. These courses
provide practical field experience in tropical agriculture
that many U.S. and international students from non-farm
backgrounds lack.

Each quarter the University of Florida offers an English
Language Institute for the benefit of students whose native
language is not English. The primary purpose of the insti-
tute 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. The Center for Tropical
Agriculture provides scholarships for outstanding students
in agriculture from Latin America who study at the English
Language Institute.

In 1967 the first Latin American Beef Cattle Conference
was held on campus in conjunction with the Florida Beef
Cattle Short Course. The Conference was conducted
entirely in Spanish. All papers were published in both
Spanish and English by the Center. A great amount of
interest was shown in the Latin American Beef Cattle
Conference and in 1969 it was expanded to include a
three-day program dealing with beef and dairy cattle, swine,
poultry and horses. The broader program, coupled with
tours of representative private livestock enterprises, attracts
a large group of foreign visitors from agriculture, industry,
and government. Attendance in recent years has averaged in
excess of 150 foreign participants.

Exchange of ideas in tropical agriculture has been stimu-
lated by an active program of inviting nationally and
internationally recognized experts in various fields. Some
have taught entire courses while others have participated in
symposiums and special seminars. Many of the visitors have
had experience in the African and Asian tropics as well as in
Latin America. They help to broaden the cultural and
geographic background of faculty and students whose
activities have historically been oriented more towards the
American tropics. More than 50 visiting lecturers have been
sponsored by the Center for Tropical Agriculture.


Experience in Florida has shown that a continuing flow
of new technology is indispensable to agricultural growth.
To provide this technology the University's home campus
and 21 Agricultural Research Centers scattered throughout
the State have concentrated skills to conduct multidiscipli-
nary research. The Center for Tropical Agriculture is en-
couraging this approach to problems of agricultural
productivity in the tropics.
Through selected programs the scientific competence of
the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is being
linked with research institutions in tropical countries. The
long standing contacts with University of Florida alumni in
the public and private sectors of agriculture in the tropics
facilitate these linkages. Approximately 500 foreign
students majoring in agriculture, including more than 100
from the Panamerican Agricultural School in Honduras,
have graduated from the University of Florida. It is with
the help of these and other personal contacts that the
Center is building a strong and viable research program in
tropical agriculture.
Many of the research grants awarded by the Center have
been carried out with the cooperation of Florida graduates
in the tropics. From these individual basic research projects,
much was learned of the problems facing tropical and
subtropical countries in their efforts to increase food
A second Ford Foundation grant awarded in 1968 help-
ed the Center focus attention on problems of livestock
production in the tropics. Efforts were concentrated on
systems of beef production in the savannahs of tropical
Latin America. The study was directed at determining the
economics of investment at various levels of production.
Data were collected from 27 ranches in the "llanos" of
Venezuela and compiled with data from 44 ranches through
a project sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organiza-
tion of the United Nations.
Results of the research on feeds and forages indicated a
need for feeding trials using various introduced and indige-
nous foodstuffs. This is being made possible through a
contract between the U.S. Agency for International Devel-
opment and the Center. The contract, which became effec-
tive in June, 1969, calls for a study of feed composition
data and research information on beef and dairy cattle in
the Latin American tropics. Laboratories in almost every
Latin American country are cooperating in the project.
Organization of the project includes a current data bank
in Gainesville. Feed composition data are coded and placed
on a computer tape in such a way that individual labora-
tories can be provided with summaries of their own data.
Feed composition tables by ecological regions are published
and studies are made of the relationship between various
environmental factors and quality of feeds.

These data allow animal scientists in the Latin American
tropics to utilize analyses of locally produced feeds for
ration preparation instead of relying on temperate zone
composition tables. In the long run, the nutrient require-
ment of livestock in the tropics also will be determined and
the combination of these data will allow a much more
rational approach to livestock production in the tropics.
A grant from the U.S. Agency for International Develop-
ment, awarded in 1971, will be used to strengthen the
University's capability in animal nutrition for tropical live-
stock production.
In addition to assisting research on tropical livestock
production, the Center is supporting research on tropical
fruit and vegetable production, plant protection, field crop
production, and food processing. Some of this research
already has brought about significant results. For example,
a new peanut variety named "Altika" has been developed
jointly by the Ministry of Agriculture in Guyana and the
University of Florida. It is anticipated that the new variety
will double the yield of the locally adapted variety.
As a result of these inter-relationships in research, agri-
cultural enterprises in both Florida and tropical countries

University of Florida

Agricultural Research and Education Center Bradentor

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Technical assistance contracts are an integral part of the
Center for Tropical Agriculture and international programs
in the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. They
provide a mechanism for carrying out problem-solving
activities jointly with agricultural institutions in the tropics.
Contracts for technical assistance involving the Center
have been financed by international lending institutions,
private foundations, foreign governments, and the U.S.
foreign aid program. Provisions of the contracts may call
for specific studies lasting only a few weeks or for technical
advice and assistance programmed over several years. The
Center does not enter into a contract unless it has been
assured that arrangements will be continued over a period
of time sufficient to achieve objectives.
Technical assistance contracts have been aimed at the
development of useful institutions to serve agriculture in
the tropics and subtropics. Although work has been concen-
trated in the tropics of Latin America, the Center has
provided assistance and does have a continuing interest in
the tropics of Africa and Asia.

Through a memorandum of agreement, the Center for
Tropical Agriculture is working with the Faculty of
Veterinary Science and Animal Science at the University of
Antioquia, Medellin, Colombia, to develop research infor-
mation and teaching capabilities in livestock production,
health, and nutritional technology in tropical regions. The
cooperative program, developed because of similar environ-
mental conditions and research problems in Colombia and
Florida, is directed toward pooling human resources and
research facilities for the benefit of both institutions.

University of Florida technical assistance to Costa Rica
began in 1956 with a contract financed by the U.S. foreign
aid program. Contractural arrangements terminated in
1960; however, informal ties between Florida and Costa
Rica continued. Much of the work, described in a book
entitled "Fertile Lands of Friendship," was in support of
activities at the Ministry of Agriculture and the University
of Costa Rica.
In May, 1965, a second contract, also financed by the
U.S. foreign aid program, was signed to help achieve objec-
tives of the Costa Rican National Economic Development
Plan. During the next five years, University of Florida
assistance was provided: (1) in agricultural economics to
advise on agricultural policy and crop diversification with a
view to increasing agricultural exports; (2) in agronomy to
increase food production and improve pastures; and (3) in
agricultural education for improvement at all levels.
Approximately 16 man-years of technical assistance were
provided until expiration of the contract in August, 1970.
A third contract in Costa Rica became effective in April,
1970. It is with the USAID Mission and provides assistance
in agricultural education, food technology, and marketing.
The major area of work has been assistance in the imple-
mentation of a technical agricultural school patterned after
the Panamerican Agricultural School in Honduras.

Florida's efforts to assist Ecuador are more recent than
in Costa Rica. A contract signed in January, 1971, between
the University of Florida and Ecuador's National Agricul-
tural Research Institute calls for assistance to improve staff,
diversify and develop Ecuador's various agricultural re-
search programs more rapidly. The major areas of assistance
are in agricultural economics and extension administration.
The contract is financed through the Inter-American Devel-
opment Bank.
A second contract with Ecuador, financed by the World
Bank and the International Development Association, was
signed in September, 1971. This agreement calls for some
13 man-years of technical services to that National Re-
search Institute to strengthen research and training facilities
for Ecuador's livestock industries.

In El Salvador the Center for Tropical Agriculture is
providing technical assistance under a contract with the
U.S. Agency for International Development. The contract
became effective in April, 1969, and was expanded substan-
tially in 1971. It calls for the Center to assist the Govern-
ment of El Salvador, and specifically the National School of
Agriculture, to integrate the School into a coordinated
National Center for Teaching, Research, and Extension in
Agriculture. Approximately 30 Florida faculty members are
involved in long-term and short-term technical assistance.

Under a subcontract with Robert R. Nathan Associates
in Washington, D.C., the Center participated in a sector
study of agriculture in Ghana. University of Florida staff
members conducted studies on soils, basic food crops,
processing of selected agricultural products, marketing,
transport and storage of grains, fruit and vegetable produc-
tion, farm mechanization, and production of oilseeds.
These studies were carried out in 1969-70.

The University of Florida entered into a contract with
the Ministry of Agriculture in Guyana in July, 1968.
Financed by a grant from the U.S. Agency for International
Development, the contract calls for the Center to provide
technical assistance to the Government of Guyana to
diversify and develop the country's agriculture. Much of the
work has been on livestock, pastures, basic food crops, and
economic studies. Most of the assistance has been provided
through short-term periodic visits by Florida faculty

The Center for Tropical Agriculture is cooperating with
the Panamerican Agricultural School, Tegucigalpa, Hon-
duras, on breeding systems research for beef production in
Central America. The five-year project, started in 1969,
seeks to compare the fertility rate, pre-weaning growth,
postweaning growth, and carcass characteristics of various
breed groups. Breeding systems being studied include
Brahman, Brahman-Angus crisscross, Brahman-Charolais
crisscross, and Brahman-Holstein crisscross. The study
should provide valuable original data necessary for modern-
day beef production in Central America.

Two contracts have been signed by the Center for
technical assistance to Jamaica. The first, financed by the
U.S. Agency for International Development, was in effect
from March, 1966, through December, 1968. This contract
provided assistance at the Ministry of Agriculture, primarily
in agricultural engineering and dairying. The second con-

tract was signed in August, 1967. It calls for Florida to
assist the Jamaica School of Agriculture in the expansion
and improvement of its present program by supplying tech-
nical assistance in several technical fields, such as soils,
plant pathology, vegetable crops, agronomy, fruit crops,
and agricultural economics. Funds for the contract are
provided through a loan to the Government of Jamaica
from the World Bank.

The Center for Tropical Agriculture has provided techni-
cal assistance to Nicaragua for a number of years, but it was
not until 1970 that an agreement for assistance was formal-
ized. The agreement calls for the Center to provide techni-
cal advice and assistance to Nicaragua's Central Bank. The
objective is to improve and/or develop tropical fruits, in-
vestigate tropical beef cattle production, and improve food
processing capabilities. Cost of services provided under the
contract are financed directly by the Bank.

A feasibility study for the construction of a refrigerated
slaughterhouse in Maradi, Niger, was conducted by a team
of University of Florida specialists late in 1971. The three-
month study included both economic justification and
technical designs for plant and equipment. All factors
necessary to prepare bid documents were included in the
final report, which was published in both French and
English. The study was financed by the U.S. Agency for
International Development.

Through a subcontract with Battelle Memorial Institute
in Columbus, Ohio, the Center conducted a bioenviron-
mental feasibility study on a new route for a sea level canal
in Panama. The study was carried out in 1966-68.
A contract financed by the USAID Mission in 1971
provided assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture and Live-
stock. The main objective of the contract was to evaluate
the agricultural research and higher education programs of
Panama. University of Florida staff members made recom-
mendations for a five-year program designed to accelerate
the development of new farm level technology in Panama.
The team also specified methods to improve the related
educational function of the University of Panama School of

In January, 1968, the Center signed an agreement with
the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences at the Central University
of Venezuela at Maracay. The agreement calls for pooling

of human resources and research facilities to work on
problems of tropical animal production and health. Both
faculty members and students contribute to the develop-
ment of research and teaching in livestock production and
management through the cooperative exchange program.
Similar problems and environmental conditions prompted
the agreement that has been beneficial to both institutions.

Following a 1967 survey of agricultural education in
Vietnam by a University of Florida team, the University
entered into a contract with the U.S. Agency for Interna-
tional Development to provide technical advice and assist-
ance to the National Agricultural Center in Saigon. The
objective of the contract is to develop a training program to
further basic economic and rural development in Vietnam.
Under provisions of the contract, four long-term University
of Florida specialists are assigned to work with staff
members of the National Agricultural Center. In addition,
approximately 15 short-term Florida faculty members have
helped prepare a long-range development plan in agricul-
tural education at the college level.

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As the leading institution of higher education in the
State, the University of Florida has long been aware of
Florida's unique international position. Its first degrees,
awarded over 100 years ago, were in classical studies. By
the turn of this century, the University had begun to focus
attention toward Latin America. Advanced degrees were
given in Latin American studies as early as 1927, and by the
mid-century a formal and well recognized School of Inter-
American Studies had been formed. During the last two
decades, the University of Florida's commitment to inter-
national studies has expanded rapidly.

The Council for International Studies and Programs is
the formal coordinating unit for international activities at
the University of Florida. 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 Council
consults with a university-wide committee. The Director of
the Center for Tropical Agriculture is a member of the
six-man Council.

In 1963 the Center for Latin American Studies super-
seded the School of Inter-American Studies. The Center
offers an interdisciplinary degree, Master of Arts with Major
in Latin American Studies, and provides a Certificate in
Latin American Studies which is awarded with Ph.D.

The Center for African Studies, established in 1966, is
responsible for the direction and coordination of interdisci-
plinary instructional and research activities related to Africa
south of the Sahara. It cooperates with University depart-
ments, schools and colleges in administering and staffing a
coordinated Certificate Program in African Studies.

Membership in the Organization for Tropical Studies
(OTS) affords the graduate student an opportunity for field
experience. OTS is a multi-institutional graduate program
conducted in the Latin American tropics by a consortium
of universities. The program includes fundamental tropical
biology, various advance biology courses, meteorology,
agriculture, forestry, and geography. OTS provides full
fellowships to students selected for a course. Faculty and
students are drawn from institutions throughout the United
States and abroad.


The Latin American Data Bank maintains in machine-
retrievable form, social, economic and political data from
Latin America for use by scholars and interested organiza-
tions. Data have been collected and processed on Costa
Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, the Dominican Republic,
Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Chile.


The College of Arts and Sciences offers several inte-
grated 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 in-
clude Asian Studies, Soviet and East European Studies,
West European Studies, International Affairs, and Interna-
tional Relations. Over 200 members of the faculty of 625
of the College of Arts and Sciences are involved in research
projects dealing with foreign countries.

International work plays an important role in the profes-
sional colleges of the University of Florida. All of them
enroll students from foreign countries, have staff members
with foreign experience, and offer courses supporting inter-
national 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 Communications, Law and five
colleges of the Health Center have organized international


The Office of the Adviser to Foreign Students is the
center for services performed on behalf of foreign students
from their initial inquiries until their return home. The
adviser also serves as Peace Corps and VISTA contact for
volunteers. Foreign faculty members also receive assistance
through this office.

Holdings of the University of Florida libraries number
over 1,350,000 catalogued volumes and a large number of
uncatalogued documents and newspapers. This includes the
largest collection in the world on the Caribbean. The library
system consists of the two central units, Library East and
Library West, and branch libraries. The branch library
serving the special needs of the Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences is the Hume Library located in
McCarty Hall.

Hugh L. Popenoe
Director and Professor

James E. Ross
Assistant Director for Technical Assistance

Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
2001 McCarty Hall
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32601

Telephone: (904) 392-1965
Cable address: CENTROP

Cover photo by Hugh L. Popenoe; inside cover photo courtesty of
Roy C. Craven, University of Florida Gallery; other photos and
brochure design by Charles T. Woods, Jr., Communications Depart-
ment, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.