PannkukPULLMAN, Wash. – A group of land-grant universities including Washington State University recently received a national award for work to improve food security in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan Agricultural Extension Program (AAEP) team earned the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary’s Honor Award for Increasing Global Food Security. The award, in 12 categories, is the most prestigious presented by the secretary.

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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, left, and WSU’s Chris Pannkuk, right, are among those posing for a photo after the award announcement in Washington, D.C.

Christopher Pannkuk, director of WSU international research and agricultural development, represented the university on the three-year program, which was completed under USDA this fall. The consortium recently received funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development to continue three more years.

The program worked closely with Afghanistan’s federal agriculture agencies to train and support the country’s 355 extension officers. They went on to reach 4,181 community members through 349 trainings in villages in four target regions.

The U.S. universities provided faculty experts to teach the latest techniques and developments in small-scale sustainable agriculture, productivity, post-harvest storage, nutrition and economics.

The new funding will expand the program into more provinces.

Others in the consortium are the University of California Davis, Purdue and the University of Maryland. Texas A&M University will join the effort for the next phase.