$1.59 million grant for international research

The Office of International Research, Education and Development (OIRED) has been awarded $1.59 million by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to continue its research in developing countries.

Virginia Tech has been conducting scientific research on Integrated Pest Management through the IPM Collaborative Research Support Program (IPM CRSP) since 1993. The purpose of this research is to raise the standard of living while creating sustainable development.

The project takes place in 5-year cycles and is currently in its fourth phase. USAID funds the project by donating $3 million for each cycle. In addition to this “core money,” the USAID mission offices of Indonesia and Bangladesh donated the extra $1.59 million following the sky-rocketing success of the IPM CRSP.

The project has generated about $388 million in benefits. Some specific projects, such as the release of a parasite to control the papaya mealybug in India, have generated enough money to pay for the entire research project throughout its lifetime.

“The project is a huge one. We are working in collaboration with 15 universities plus 16 countries,” said Dr. Muni Muniappan, the Program Director of the IPM CRSP.

The universities that are working on this project alongside Virginia Tech include Clemson University and Penn State University. Scientists from these universities work in different parts of the world but all focus on developing an IPM package that would reduce the use of pesticides while simultaneously increasing crop yield.

They also have to work closely with many local partners including non-governmental organizations, mass media, the Department of Agriculture for the specific country and other institutes. Some of these include the Sam Ratulangi University of Indonesia and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute.

The IPM CRSP concentrates on its research, but it also gives great importance to the capacities of both the human and the institution. This means it utilizes local intelligence and skill for its projects. Students from the developing countries are recruited, trained and sent back to work for the IPM CRSP in their own country. Over 250 students from different countries have been trained in this manner.

Another aspect the IPM CRSP focuses on is gender issues. The technologies developed are designed so as not to displace women, but to keep them involved.

“Research, technology transfer, human and institutional capacity building and gender… we are integrating everything,” said Muniappan.

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