WSU provides rural poor with support

PULLMAN – WSU’s role as a land-grant university has reached global proportions. In addition to its presence in the state’s 39 counties, the university has made a commitment to the rural poor in developing countries, from Malawi and central Asia, to Afghanistan and now Iraq.

WSU is working to develop and promote alternative livelihood options for rural Afghani farmers dependent on opium poppy as their primary crop and source of income, and Iraqis are learning to raise safe and abundant alternative crops. And, at WSU in Pullman, three scientists from Yemen are working side by side with WSU researchers to answer critical questions about insects, plant breeding, and irrigation.

This is just some of the work Chris Pannkuk is overseeing as director of International Programs/Research and Development at WSU. Other projects focus on improving the livelihoods of targeted rural communities in Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique. A complete list of international projects is available online at

By empowering communities to help themselves, Pannkuk and his colleagues have seen opportunities expand for more than 400,000 people in more than 2,500 villages in at least 13 countries.

Pannkuk will discuss his research in “It’s a Small World, After All: International Outreach Efforts Stretch Around the Globe” from noon to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at The Rainier Club, 840 4th Ave., Seattle. Tickets are $30 per person and include lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m., with registration to begin at 11:30 a.m. To reserve a spot, visit or call toll free, (877) 978-3868. Registration will continue until capacity is reached.

With more than two decades in agricultural extension and international research and development, Pannkuk remains passionate about leading interdisciplinary teams in improving education, resource management, economic development, and research across the globe. A current focus on developing relationships with farmers and empowering local communities has become a model of success in global development.

Integrated strategies include introducing revolving funds and microcredit loans that enable farmers to take ownership of projects without perceiving them as “hand outs.”

The inspiration for Pannkuk’s work began in 1982 when he was a village-based Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone. He recognized the impact that simple knowledge transfer could have on numerous lives. With this inspiration, and further support from WSU, he continues to work primarily with small farmers in developing countries to alleviate poverty and improve human health and education worldwide.

More information on Pannkuk and the Innovators series is available online at

A 90-second video is also available for viewing at The video features Pannkuk discussing WSU’s outreadch in developing Third World countries.

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