Africa-centric Research

Africa-centric Research

The college offers widespread research expertise and experience in African nations, all centered around our Strategic Initiatives. 

Faculty Research

AGNR Faculty Research in Africa

Beyrouty, Craig (Dean, AGNR) -- Extensive experience in Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, and Kenya. Recent interactions in Ghana. Focus has been on soil fertility and plant nutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as food and nutritional security efforts and capacity building primarily in Ethiopia and Kenya. Developed partnerships with NGO's, international research institutes as part of the CGIAR system of research organizations, and in-country universities.  Also developed and led courses on managing research field stations to students from Sub-Saharan African nations.

Weil, Ray (Professor) -- Soil scientist, expert in agricultural production; has worked throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.  Dr. Weil developed SoilDoc, a soil testing lab in a box.  Consultant to Columbia University’s Earth Institute and Millenium Villages.  Research and field work in Chad; Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Egypt.

Tully, Kate (Assoc. Prof.) -- Agroecology, soils, agricultural production.  Research and field work is focused on improving yields and minimizing environmental harm, and is producing some of the first data on environmental impacts necessary for developing sustainable agriculture strategies in this understudied region of the world. Countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania.

Leonard, Ken (Professor) -- Development, health care economics; gender research; Fulbright in Ghana; research experience in Burkino Faso, Cameroon, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda.

Hanson, James (UME Assoc. Dean, Professor) -- Jim has over 30 years of experience working internationally with The World Bank, IFPRI, NGOs and other partners.  As an agricultural economist, his work has included developing programs for women in agriculture in Ethiopia, performing agricultural marketing assessments in Iraq, Uganda

Lansing, Stephanie (Professor) --  Leads the Bioenergy and Bioprocessing Technology Lab at the nexus of renewable energy, water quality, waste treatment, and human health, and is committed to understanding the ecological, engineering, and social systems that influence these intertwined areas. Countries: Kenya, Sierra Leone, Tanzania.

Kohn, Richard (Professor) -- Animal nutrition, renewable energy, anaerobic digestion; fermentation systems for biofuel production; environmental impacts of animal production systems including effects of nutrient losses on water and air quality, and nutritional management effects on green-house gas emissions.  Countries: Nigeria, Sierra Leone.

Bowerman, William (Dept. Chair, Professor) -- Wildlife ecologist, advising PhD students in Kenya. Wildlife, eagle and vulture research in South Africa, Kenya.

Udahogora, Margaret (Dietetics Prog Dir; Lecturer) --  Nutrition and dietetics; Teaches Global Classroom with colleague in Ghana; Fieldwork and research in  Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda. 

Myers, David R. (Prin. Agent) -- Agronomist and Extension Professor, Agriculture; teaches principles of agricultural production and pest management; fieldwork in Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda.  Faculty Advisor to ROOTS Africa student organization.

Sahyoun, Nadine (Professor) -- Nutrition epidemiology of vulnerable populations, elderly, refugees. Countries: Kenya, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine.

Moyle, Jon (Sr. Agent) -- Significant volunteer experience with the U.S. Dept. of State’s Farmer-to-Farmer program in Africa.  Teaches smallholder poultry farmers about biosecurity, nutrition and management of poultry. 

Academic Partnerships

Mandela Washington Fellows for Young African Leaders

ENST Assoc. Prof. Dave Tilley hosted Ugandan entrepreneur Grace Nalugwa in a one month Mandela Washington Fellowship, in July 2022.  Nalugwa's goal was to learn more about biogas technology and turning waste into products.

AREC Faculty is collaborating with Fellows from The Gambia and Ivory Coast in this professional development partnership. The Fellow in The Gambia is working with AGNR faculty on energy policy, and the Fellow in the Ivory Coast is an engineer interested in solar energy and entrepreneurship.  Partners: U.S. Dept. of State, IREX  (AREC, Leonard, Preonas, 2021)

Global Classroom Courses

Ghana: A Global Classroom with Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah University of Science Technology (KNUST), on nutrition sensitive food systems (NFSC, Udahogora)

Liberia: A Global Classroom between UMD students and Liberia International Christian College (LICC) students that is a collaboration in which the students identify and develop solutions to agricultural challenges faced by farmers in Liberia. The class focuses on learning about farming in a developing country context, intercultural dialogue, and developing projects on agricultural extension activities, such as an Agricultural Radio Hour, a High School Outreach Program, and a student-led Chocolate Entrepreneurship Project that is Liberia’s first national processing company (AREC/UME, Devereux)

Ethiopia: in development. AGNR is discussing developing a three-university global classroom that focuses on food security in Ethiopia.  The partners are Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and AGNR, UMD.   Also up for discussion is the possibility of hosting a competition of activity that develops entrepreneurial solutions to food insecurity issues, modeled on the Ag Enterprise challenge (OIA: Lewin, Nahorniac: AGNR: Beyrouty, Hanson, Nwafor, Leger)

ROOTS Africa student group

The UMD ROOTS Africa student club started its first chapter in Liberia, Africa, at a small agricultural college (LICC).  The UMD and LICC students work with local Liberian farmers on basic principles and practices regarding soil health, integrated pest management, agribusiness practices such as record keeping, budgeting, planning for a business, marketing, and adding value to products. Liberian Partner: LICC, 2018-present. (AGNR, Nwafor; UME, David R. Myers, Faculty Advisor)

Uganda: The UMD ROOTS Africa students developed a fundraising project and collaborated on a video training bootcamp for agriculturists

Increasing Number of PhDs and Masters students in Africa

International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE): Goal is to increase the number of PhDs in Africa.  We have signed up as a recipient university. 2021-on-going (Contact: AGNR Dean Craig Beyrouty; UME, Hanson)

Ethiopia: Currently advising soil science Masters student at Debre Berhan University, Ethiopia (ENST, Weil)

Kenya: Volunteer assignment to develop the nutrition and dietetics curriculum for Machakos University College, Kenya, and worked with university faculty on developing plans to do community outreach. Partner: Catholic Relief Services, 2017. (NFSC, Sahyoun)



Food Safety  

2020-21: Food Safety Challenges and Priorities outlook report.  Partners: International Food Policy Research Institute, World Bank, University of Guelph, University of Greenwich.. (AREC, Jaffee, Adjunct professor)

2021: Policies to strengthen food safety in informal food distribution systems of Afric and emerging Asia. Partners: International Livestock Research Institute and the University of Guelph.(AREC, Jaffee, Adjunct professor)

2021, proposed: proposal to the UN Food Summit on Food Safety Innovation Facility targeting Africa and emerging Asia. Partners: Global Alliance for Nutrition and the University of Guelph.   (AREC, Jaffee, Adjunct professor)

Sub-Saharan Africa

West Africa

Design of index insurance for developing country farmers and on design of agri-environmental policies.  Partners: Universidad Politecnica de Madrid; Action Contre la Faim (ACF); Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), 2018-2020.  (AREC, Lichtenberg)


A World Bank funded project to convert an invasive weed that obstructs Nigerian waterways into an animal feed and biogas for cooking. The project addresses access to clean water and the shortage of animal feed during the dry season.  The project diversifies the local economy including improved family incomes, and heath by decreasing health risks from cooking smoke. Partners: World Bank; Ahmadu Bello University; Federal University, Gashua; University Politécnica de Madrid. (ANSC, Kohn, 2017-2020)

Study anaerobic digestion of cassava wastewater and manures to produce bio-gas. Partner: University of Ibadan,  (ENST, Lansing)

Cash Transfers, Livelihood Mentoring, Nutrition and Agriculture Support Impact Evaluation (AREC, Leonard)

Cameroon: the BeeMangrove apiculture project in the mangroves seeks to provide an alternative livelihood to local communities who are dependent 100% on the mangroves, while at the same time alleviating mangrove logging pressures and enhancing pollinator abundances. This grass-root project brought together stakeholders and people with different interests to ensure that local communities learn to install beehives in the mangroves, harvest honey, and protect the mangroves. Partner: Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 2019-on-going.  (PSLA, Ngeve, post-doc researcher)

Ethiopia: A food security project aimed at soil and livestock management that will utilize portable handheld instruments to determine soil pH, EC and nitrate levels, moveable solar-electrified polywire fencing for livestock management, mobile phone-enabled marketing strategies for livestock and crop products, among others. This project is in partnership with Debre Berhan University (DBU) (PSLA, ENST, Weil, Tully)

South Africa

Food Safety: Collaboration with the University of Pretoria, and the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN FDA) in evaluating the safety of cucumbers grown in high tunnels in Gauteng Province. The approach is using microbiome analysis of irrigation water and cucumbers to evaluate the influence of irrigation on cucumber-associated microbiota and track antimicrobial resistance genes. This research is applicable to large operations but could be possible in smaller farm settings that have access to surface or borehole water. (PSLA, Micallef, 2020-present)

Wildlife: Study of African fish eagles and vultures, conservation and poisoning. (ENST, Bowerman, on-going)

Wildlife: Examining the traditional cultural, religious, and medicinal uses of vultures from an ethical perspective. Partner: Birdlife Africa, National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), 2018-present. (ENST, Harrell)

Middle East, North Africa

Egypt: AGNR is identifying the genetic characteristics of fish genome for improved breeding. The project, Bringing Next-Generation Breeding into Aquaculture could enhance production efficiency and development of genetically improved strains to yield a better-quality fish.  Aquaculture biotechnology can help in developing germplasm, and farm management guidelines for improved growth, stress tolerance, fillet quality, disease resistance, and feed conversion efficiency as well as control of reproduction cycle and age at sexual maturation. Partner: USAID, 2019-2022. (ANSC, Salem)

Iraq: agricultural marketing and measurement. Partner: World Bank, 2018-20. (AREC, Battistin)

Lebanon: nutrition survey and food security intervention in Palestinian, Iraqi refugee camps; Iraqi .  Partner: American University of Beirut; 2014-2017; American University of Beirut, UNRWA, UNHCR, 2012.  (NFSC, Sahyoun)


Extension Projects

Kenya: AGNR dairy specialists are helping dairy farmers in the Nandi province form a cooperative to improve production practices in cropping, genetics, nutrition, housing, animal health, milking methods, record keeping, business management, and marketing. The next phase includes video training and consultations. These improvements in efficiencies will improve farmer income and reduce poverty. Partner: Gracious Star Dairy Cooperative, 2019-ongoing. (UME, Johnson, Semler, Potts)

Ethiopia: The AGNR Women in Agriculture (WIA) program led a global extension project in Ethiopia that targeted the food security of vulnerable women and youth by focusing on home gardens and small-scale poultry production. We provided trainings at campus demonstration farms and satellite sites across the respective regions, Farmer Field Schools, and primary school vegetable gardens. Although the primary focus was household nutrition and food security, the universities, primary schools and women beneficiaries all reported revenue earned from surplus sales to market. Partners: Debre Berhan University (DBU) and Wolkite University (WKU); Rotary Club and Rotary International World Fund. 2016-19. (UME, Hanson, Devereux)


  • University of Maryland Extension offers an immersive service learning and leadership development experience in cooperation with Tanzania 4-H.  The two week experience includes an onsite stay at the youth hostel owned by Tanzania 4-H.  Immersion experiences include engagement with local schools, agriculture industries, social services, local 4-H programs, and community culture.  Tanzanian 4-H members engage alongside Maryland 4-H members on a daily basis along with 4-H members from Finland and other Baltic countries.  The experience is typically offered in early August in odd numbered years and managed through the Maryland State 4-H Office and chaperoned by State 4-H Extension Specialist, Educators, or volunteers. In addition to leadership and service learning programming, youth delegates also participate in a photo Safari as well as other in country attraction that Tanzania is renowned for.  Ong-going. (UME, 4-H, Jeff Howard and Chris Anderson)
  • An interdisciplinary team of AGNR Faculty, a Maryland-based education non-profit, and a tech start-up company formed "Harvest Link," an applied research initiative. Funded by the UMD Provost Office, Harvest Link traveled to Tanzania in 2017 and 2018 to conduct market value chain research with smallholder tomato farmers in Iringa in partnership with the University of Iringa. The goal of this research was to support the development of a mobile application that would connect farmers to markets, with integration into transportation services. (UME, Devereux; NFSC, Sahyoun)

Uganda: AGNR Extension Specialists trained 40 local farmers and 25 extension workers on irrigation practices, soil fertility, and integrated pest management demonstrations for common Uganda crops: cassava, plantains, sweet potato, beans, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.  The AGNR team delivered specialized training in sustainable agricultural concepts and practices that can be easily adopted by smallholder farmers who have limited access to machinery, agrichemicals and commercial fertilizers. The team designed the project to be implemented with small hand operated tools and field portable scientific equipment. By improving agricultural practices, Ugandan farmers were able to rely less on expensive inputs and create healthy crops, increasing their food security and farm production.  Food safety training for farmers focused on sanitation practices, with the result of decreasing instances of diarrhea, especially in children.  Most of the project materials were sourced in-country, and local farmers were encouraged to cooperate to solve cropping problems and to share resources. Partner: International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), 2017. (UME, Myers; UME, Schuster; NFSC, Wei)