Uzbekistan entrepreneursFresno State hosts training visit by Uzbekistan entrepreneurs

Fresno State’s Center for Agricultural Business (CAB) hosted a unique group of entrepreneurs from the other side of the globe recently as part of an ongoing technology exchange with countries we hope to do business with some day.

 The center hosted a 15-day visit from private agribusiness operators from Uzbekistan. The event was made possible through a Cochran Program grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Overseeing the visit was CAB Director Mechel Paggi and Bill Erysian, manager of grants and international projects for the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (JCAST).

 “Our hosting of these events is part of a programmatic effort by CAB to build economic and agricultural trade relationships with developing countries around the world,” Paggi said.

President Joseph Castrodisplays a gift from members of the Uzbekistani training delegationUzbekistan is located in central Asia. The landlocked nation is surrounded completely by five other “istan” nations, bordered by Kazakhstan on the north and Afghanistan on the south. About the size of California, Uzbekistan has a similar climate and also produces much of the same crops – large quantities of cotton – some for export – as well as a variety of grains, fruits and vegetables.

Fresno State President Joseph Castro (at left) displays a gift from members of the Uzbekistani training delegation.

The visiting group consisted of eight individuals who applied for the program and are considered leading entrepreneurs in their home regions, Paggi said. The tour package was a custom-designed training activity focusing on post-harvest techniques and processing and marketing of fruits and vegetables. Training topics included improving handling and transportation of produce; improving cultivation technology and farm management practices; packing and processing methods; marketing; and wholesale/retail produce distribution/handling.

Activities included a tour of Fresno State’s University Agricultural Laboratory, as well as visits to area agribusinesses that have partnered with Fresno State in research and business activities. At Wawona Frozen Foods in Clovis, the delegation gained insights into frozen food technologies, with emphasis on frozen fruit. During a stop at Kings River Citrus Packing Co. of Reedley, participants learned about long-distance produce transportation and the use of modified atmospheres to enhance product shelf life.

 “The goal of the project is to strengthen the capacity of the Uzbek farmers, processors and traders for future cooperation with the United States, which can lead to improved bilateral trade and food security in Uzbekistan,” Erysian said. “In addition, Fresno State benefits from hosting Cochran Fellows by showcasing its leadership in agricultural education here in the Central Valley and by building new international relationships and agricultural partnerships.”

Dean Charles Boyer

Dean Charles Boyer (center) of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology meets with the Uzbekistani trade group.

The larger goal of the Cochran Fellowship program is to enhance business and economic partnerships between the United States and countries around the world. As part of the program requirement, each Cochran Fellow has developed his/her own specialized action plan for enhancing post harvest management that incorporates some of what they learned while here in the Central Valley, Paggi noted. 

 For more information on CAB activities and research, contact Paggi at mpaggi@csufresno.edu or call the CAB office at 559-278-4405.