PIKETON, Ohio — Ohio State University South Centers at Piketon, in conjunction with Ohio State's International Programs in Agriculture, is teaming up with a university in east Africa to bring agribusiness skills to its country's residents.
Through a $100,000, two-year U.S. Agency for International Development grant, the collaborative effort is designed to boost the agricultural economy in Tanzania by educating and training those entering private sector agribusinesses.
"Tanzania is evolving from a socialist country and is becoming more of a market-driven economy. Where production activities were once controlled by the government, now individuals are being encouraged to enter the private sector and start their own businesses," said Emmanuel Mbiha, head of the department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania. "This is a novel change for us and the university has a role to play in developing this new economic environment."
Mbiha said that the relationship the university has with Ohio State specialists is just what is needed to accomplish its objectives.
"Sokoine expressed interest in working with a U.S. university to develop an agribusiness management program. We picked up on it and are developing a program from that," said Mark Erbaugh, assistant director of Ohio State's International Programs in Agriculture. "Sokoine University also wanted expertise in setting up an agribusiness development center, and who does that better than South Centers?"
The agribusiness management project is three-pronged: developing an MBA program in agribusiness management; setting up an agribusiness advisory committee to advise departmental faculty on the design and implementation of the MBA program to help ensure its relevance to the Tanzanian agribusiness environment; and developing an agribusiness development center — an outreach component that links the community to the university.
"South Centers' role in the project has been to share our experiences with various business assistance and economic development approaches that may be adaptable in the Tanzanian setting," said Tom Worley, coordinator of operations at Ohio State South Centers. "We have enjoyed hosting visitors from Sokoine University of Agriculture and acquainting them with the ways we use to engage clientele to ensure that our programs are meeting their needs. We have stressed the importance of engagement with agribusiness leaders in the planning of the agribusiness development center in Tanzania."
Since the start of the project, an MBA curriculum in agribusiness has been developed and is scheduled to launch next year, and an Agribusiness Advisory Committee has been selected. Erbaugh and Mbiha recently went to Washington D.C. to present details of the project at a conference and to seek additional funding to further develop the project.