Michigan State University reported today that a group of its veterinarians is using videoconferencing as a way to help Iraqi farmers and veterinarians rebuild the country’s livestock food industry, adopt new animal science technologies and educate its farmers and producers.
The initiative is part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded project.
“Much of Iraq is in disarray, and its people are in desperate need to rebuild their infrastructure,” said Robert Malinowski, acting director of the Information Technology Center in MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and project leader. “While most people think of roads, sewers and communications when it comes to infrastructure, what is equally important is a vibrant livestock food and animal science industry.”
“A country that seeks stability needs to be able to feed itself,” added Ann Rashmir, an associate professor with the College of Veterinary Medicine who is also working on the project.
Two Saturdays each month, industry professionals provided by MSU, connect with representatives from the Iraqi groups in Baghdad via videoconferencing technology for two-hour sessions. Topics range from farm management, animal nutrition and diseases, biosecurity and modern breeding techniques.
The Iraqi groups include the Iraqi Red Meats Association, a nongovernmental organization seeking to develop, organize and safeguard activities in regards to red meat production, and the Iraqi Veterinary Medical Syndicate, a professional veterinary organization.
The sessions consist of a narrated presentation with time for questions and comments afterward. A translator and USDA officials are on location at the Baghdad site.
The project began earlier this fall and is set to last 12 months with a potential six-month extension, according to MSU.