Partnership Feature: Dr. Sanchez and African Soil Research
Dr. Pedro Sanchez recently joined University of Florida as a Research Professor of Tropical Soils with the Soil and Water Sciences Department and Institute for Sustainable Food Systems. His work with tropical soils and food security in Africa builds off of multiple partnerships both within and outside of the University of Florida.
First and foremost is his current partnership under the World Food Prize. This project brings Dr. Sanchez together with African scientists in an attempt to make people aware of the threat of the fall armyworm, a clear and present danger to food security in Africa. Although the fall armyworm is native to the Western Hemisphere, it was found in Nigeria and is now an invasive species throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Sanchez’s work on the World Food Prize involves extensive collaboration. He is working with international centers including: IITA (International Center for Tropical Agriculture) and ICIPE (International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology). Partnerships were also established with organizations including Monsanto, African Development Bank, and CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International). The project makes a call for getting serious about fall armyworms and developing ways for African countries to face and control the pest. Dr. Sanchez notes that although he is not an entomologist, the fall armyworm could have a serious impact on the progress made on soil management in Africa.
Dr. Sanchez has a long history accomplishing his work through collaboration and partnership. He was involved in the development of the African Green Revolution with Kofi Annan. His work on soil science and food security with the Millennium Villages project extended to 12 different countries in Africa in an attempt to achieve the 2015 Millennium Development Goals. He is also currently working with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to establish what kinds of fertilizers should be used in African soils. His input on the project includes the development of SoilDoc—a soil analysis kit that can be used by farmers to analyze soil chemistry on location. Dr. Sanchez hopes that this will provide smallholder farmers with access to information that can help improve soil management practices.
Dr. Sanchez expressed his excitement at working with UF and the Center for African Studies. While he has worked with African Studies centers at other universities, he notes that UF has the most advanced Center for African Studies that he has seen. He is delighted by the openness of CAS in working with not only people in the humanities and liberal arts, but also faculty in agriculture and natural resource management. Although he has only been at UF for a little over a year, Dr. Sanchez has established research partnerships throughout the university. He works extensively with Dr. Cheryl Palm (Dept. of Agricultural and Biological Engineering), with whom he is currently developing plans for a response to trade offs and synergies in increasing agricultural productivity and decreasing biodiversity. His research on the fall armyworm involves the Dept. of Entomology, where he works with Dr. Gregg Nuessly. He also has on-going collaborations with Dr. James L. Anderson (Institute for Sustainable Food Systems), Dr. Gerrit Hoogenboom (Dept. of Agricultural and Biological Engineering), Dr. Karen Gerrett (Dept. of Plant Pathology), and Dr. Arie Hendrik Havelaar (Livestock Innovation Lab). Dr. Sanchez also works extensively with faculty in the Center for Latin American Studies and Center for African Studies.