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UTIA Receives Farmer-to-Farmer Grant to Strengthen the Involvement of Southeast Asian Youth in Agriculture through Exchanges with U.S. Volunteers

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) has been awarded a five-year grant through the John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program. The initial award is for $5 million, with the potential for a further $25 million in funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). F2F provides technical assistance from U.S. volunteers to farmers and agricultural groups in foreign countries to promote sustainable improvements in food security and agricultural production, processing, and marketing. The Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture is the lead partner for the “Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow” (ALOFT) regional F2F program for Southeast Asia.

ALOFT will partner with and support youth-led and youth-serving institutions to build more resilient and inclusive food systems in three core countries: Cambodia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. This program will integrate youth into target agricultural value chains through four areas of technical assistance: 1) climate-smart agriculture; 2) agricultural entrepreneurship and agribusinesses; 3) agricultural education, and 4) extension and advisory services. ALOFT will recruit experts in these areas from farms, agribusinesses, cooperative extension services and universities in the U.S. to participate in short-term volunteer assignments with host-organizations in Southeast Asia. These technical exchanges will contribute to the F2F goal of generating sustainable, broad based economic growth in the agricultural sector. ALOFT will also contribute to increased understanding among the American public of international development issues and international understanding of U.S. development programs.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to continue to expand on the legacy of service of Farmer-to-Farmer with this new regional program in Southeast Asia. The population of this region is predominantly young and depends on agriculture for their livelihoods,” Tom Gill, director of the UT Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture, said about the potential impact of ALOFt. “We are excited to match the expertise of U.S. volunteers with organizations in these countries to train and equip youth with the knowledge and skills to be successful entrepreneurs in agricultural systems.”

Faculty and staff at UTIA are already engaged in educating the next generation of agricultural leaders through their research, education, and extension mission. UTIA has the largest 4-H program in the U.S., directly training more than 135,000 youth annually across Tennessee, The Smith Center hopes to leverage the work already being done across the Institute to empower youth in agriculture, and to draw on the expertise of UT Extension specialists and agents to deliver impactful technical assistance to partners in Southeast Asia.

“At UTIA, our faculty and staff are experts in their fields. They are world-class researchers, passionate about teaching the next generation of agriculture professionals, and excellent at reaching the public through Extension, “Keith Carver, senior vice chancellor and senior vice president of the Institute, explained. “Through the ALOFT project, the Smith Center will be able to extend that knowledge and experience globally to address the issues facing the agriculture industry around the world.”

ALOFT will recruit the best of U.S. volunteer expertise for specific F2F assignments, requested by host organizations in Cambodia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. ALOFT will draw on the wide range of expertise across the land-grant community, non-government organizations, private sector, and other institutions to support the next generation of global agricultural leaders and foster deeper partnerships between the U.S. and Southeast Asian partners.

For more information about how the Smith Center is working to #GrowGlobal across UTIA and beyond, visit smith To learn more about F2F, visit

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture is composed of UT AgResearch, UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT Extension, and the Herbert College of Agriculture. Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the Institute touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions.