Overall, the plenary sessions were a great testament to how international collaboration can generate good will and provide for the transfer of ideas and knowledge. Just the fact that the conference was held in Windhoek seemed to do a great deal for the enthusiasm of local institutions and their commitment to agricultural development. The plenary sessions featured speeches by dignitaries from Namibia as well as the host universities involved in the conference. The organizations also presented their current activities and their hopes for the World Conference. This gave a good overview to the profession and also established the clear benefits from such interdisciplinary and international collaboration. Agricultural education, extension, information resources, etc. all have important rolls to play in international agriculture development. These are all tools that institutions can utilize for getting technology and information to communities. Effective technology transfer depends on rich dialogue to better understand the contexts and means by which agricultural issues can be communicated across borders and among cultures.
The plenary on the new USAID extension collaborative research support program was very informative. Even though there were many questions about the new program, it was good to see that USAID was giving attention to the need for broader understanding of international agricultural extension systems. The extension CRSP presentation was helpful to understand the US focus on assistance and the direction that USAID is moving in regards to Feed The Future. However, the program conceptualization was focused on process and not enough on concept or structures to make sure that science and research were effectively reaching farmers.
The roundtable session was good for quick overviews of topics. I attended sessions on submitting publications for the AIAEE journal and on using advanced technology for recording survey results. The session on publications was very helpful in that it provided good overview of submission process and the requirements for the articles to be submitted. The survey recording tool was an electronic pen that recorded everything written on special “finger-print” paper surveys. The moderator used this method in South Africa and it seems like a really good way to record information. For implementation in rural parts of Sub-Saharan Africa or in smaller surveys, the costs and durability might be concerns.