Tifton- African diplomats and ambassadors listen closely as UGA extension agents explain how Georgia growers plant and harvest vegetables.
"We have so much to offer, and we can actually get them into a much better status," says program coordinator Tim Williams. "In Africa most people earn under two dollars a day."
The group is visiting the farms at the University of Georgia's Tifton campus as part of an outreach program aimed at reducing hunger in developing nations.
"We thought that we might have two or three ambassadors come. We had to turn away about 20 possible applicants. There was intense interest to come and see what is happening in Georgia," says Williams.
Armando Panguene is the ambassador from Mozambique, a country that has just two seasons, dry and wet. He says growers there will be especially interested in learning how Georgia growers handle weather-related issues.
"The dry season sometimes extends for longer periods with no rain, and when rain comes, it washes everything away to the sea," says Panguene.
Ambassador Panguene also says African producers are trying to explore ways to expand their export market.
"To expand your production it depends on the market. The possibilities or the markets for our production is very limited," Panguene says.
The diplomats say more than 80% of Africans participate in some form of farming, but large farms haven't flourished because there are few markets to sell produce to.
"We are traditionally linked to Europe and now the U.S. is a new market that we want to explore, and the doors are not that easy to open, but we are very stubborn, and we think that if we persist we can one day manage to have cooperation," Panguene says.
While they wait for expanding markets, the diplomats say the program will help build a stronger, more productive relationship between African and U.S. growers.
In addition to visiting the Tifton campus, the delegation also got a chance to tour poultry production in Athens and peanut production in Griffin.