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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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African visitors learn from local food experts

Joaquim Duarte Gomes, who works in the Ministry of Agriculture in Angola, discusses tuberoses with Mike Madison of Yolo Press Olive Oil Co. in Winters during a visit Wednesday night to the Davis Farmers Market by a delegation of African officials interested in sustainable agriculture. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

By
July 28, 2011 |

Eighteen delegates from Africa included Davis on their tour this week of Northern California as they learn about sustainable agriculture and food security in the face of global climate change.

The visitors, who are hosted by the Northern California World Trade Center under the auspices of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program, represent 12 countries in Africa — Angola, Benin, Burundi, Chad, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo.

All professionals, they work in government and private industry in the fields of agriculture, livestock, sustainable development, engineering and commerce.

In Sacramento, the delegation discussed biotech research in agriculture; genetically modified organisms; climate change effects on water supply, food processing facilities; and food safety and security techniques.

In Davis, their visit included a look at the workings of farm-to-school programs. They were welcomed by representatives of the Davis Farm to School Connection, which provides seasonal produce for school lunches, nutritional education in classrooms, second-grade farm visits each spring and a waste management program. The emphasis is on developing healthy patterns for the whole child.

The group met some of the farm-to-school partners and sponsors, including Randii MacNear, Davis Farmers Market manager; Rafaelita Curva, director of nutrition services for the Davis school district; Shar Katz, co-owner of Caffé Italia, which creates “Pizzas with a Purpose” on a portable wood-fired grill; and Emily Griswold, chairwoman of the Central Park Gardens Committee.

The visitors met their hosts at the market Wednesday evening and enjoyed a walk through the Central Park Gardens, met farmers and vendors and tasted some of their offerings at Picnic in the Park.

Earlier in the week, the visitors toured the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center, the UCD Genome Center and the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.

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