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Posts Tagged: Amer Fayad

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Amer Fayad
Fayad named Western IPM Center director

Amer Fayad joined ANR on July 8, 2019 as director of the Western Integrated Pest Management Center. He is a plant pathologist focused on the identification, epidemiology, biological and molecular diversity of viruses, virus movement, interactions between viruses and plant virus resistance genes. and management of virus diseases. Fayad will provide overall leadership of the Western IPM Center, collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders to identify regional IPM needs and formulate strategies to address the issues. He will represent the Western IPM Center to other agencies at the state, regional and national levels to identify opportunities for collaboration.

From 2011 to 2019, Fayad served in several capacities at Virginia Tech. From 2016-2019, he was the associate director and the Africa program manager of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management, an $18 million program that advances IPM science and education and develops IPM technologies. He coordinated projects in East Africa and South Asia that identified and developed environmentally sound IPM strategies, prepared action plans, assessments, reports and publications.

Prior to that, Fayad, who is fluent in Arabic and French, taught biology at Notre Dame University in Lebanon. At the Citrus Research and Education Center at the University of Florida, Fayad conducted postdoctoral research.

He earned a Ph.D. in plant pathology, physiology, and weed science from Virginia Tech, a M.S. in crop protection and a B.S. in agriculture and a diploma of “Ingenieur Agricole” from the American University of Beirut.

Fayad is based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1271 and afayad@ucanr.edu.

Read a Q&A with Fayad at http://ipmwest.blogspot.com/2019/07/a-q-with-new-western-ipm-center.html.

Otto joins Master Food Preserver Program

Anna Otto

Anna Otto is the new program coordinator in the statewide office for the Master Food Preserver (MFP) Program.

As UC Master Food Preserver coordinator, she will provide statewide support to the UC MFP Program, which operates in 17 counties with more than 400 certified volunteers. Her responsibilities include project management in office administration, event planning and meeting coordination, communications, marketing, training and fund development.

Before joining UC MFP on May 6, 2019, she spent the past 17 years as an adjunct professor of family and consumer science at Sacramento City College, where her courses focused on child and lifespan development.

Prior to teaching, Otto was a research associate for the 4-H Center for Youth Development in Davis. She is excited to be back working for UC Cooperative Extension.

Otto first learned about UC MFP Program this past fall, during a visit to the Arcata Farmer's Market. Since that time, she has attended their demonstrations and classes in Sacramento, Humboldt and El Dorado counties and learned about pressure canning, dehydrating, fermenting and making salsa.

Otto earned an M.S. in child development and a B.S. in dependent care management, both from UC Davis.

Otto is based in the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1382 and amotto@ucanr.edu.

Michailides receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Themis Michailides

The Pacific Division of the American Phytopathological Society recently honored Themis Michailides with their Lifetime Achievement Award. They presented him with the award on June 26 at their annual meeting in Fort Collins, Colo.

Michailides, a UC Davis plant pathologist based at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier, is a leading authority in fungal fruit tree pathology and is nationally and internationally recognized for his innovative ecological, epidemiological, and disease management studies of devastating diseases of fruit and nut crops.

After intensive and multifaceted research on the panicle and shoot blight of pistachio caused by Botryosphaeria dothidea, a major disease that became an epidemic in 1995 to 1998 and threatening California's pistachio industry, he developed tools for successfully controlling the disease. For this outstanding research, the California pistachio industry awarded him a plaque engraved “Honoring 20 years of research excellence.”

Based on what they learned from the Bot of pistachio, Michailides and his colleagues expanded their research to Bot (or band) canker of almond and the Botryosphaeria/Phomopsis canker dieback and blight of walnut.

Michailides, who has been working at Kearney REC for 31 years, has also been doing pioneering research in understanding and managing aflatoxin contamination of pistachio and almond and has published more than 235 refereed articles.

He has also been active in the American Phytopathological Society, serving as a member or chair of various committees. Additionally, he has served as associate editor (1991–1993) and senior editor (1995—1997) of Plant Disease and senior editor (2006–2008) of Phytopathology. In 2011, he was named an APS Fellow. He has collaborated with international scientists in more than 10 countries. He served as APS Pacific Division president in 2012-2013.

Kern County Entomology Team wins WEDA Award of Excellence

From left, Wendy Powers, David Haviland, who accepted the WEDA award on behalf of the team, Glenda Humiston and Jean-Marie Peltier, who represents California for Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching (CARET)

For more than 15 years, the Kern County Entomology Team has helped growers respond to invasive insect pests that threaten California agriculture. Their efforts have been recognized with the Western Extension Director Association's Award of Excellence for 2019.

The Kern County Entomology Team is composed of David Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension entomology and pest management farm advisor for Kern County; Jhalendra Rijal, UC IPM advisor for the Northern San Joaquin Valley; Emily Symmes, UC IPM advisor for Sacramento Valley; Robert Beede, UCCE farm advisor emeritus in Kings County; Stephanie Rill, UC Cooperative Extension staff research associate in Kern County; Robert Curtis, research director for the Almond Board of California, and Judy Zaninovich, director of the Consolidated Central Valley Table Grape Pest and Disease Control District.

The Kern County Entomology Team has implemented more than a dozen applied research and extension programs with documented impacts on top California commodities such as almonds, table grapes, pistachios, cherries and blueberries. Team members have organized Extension meetings, workshops, presentations, publications and media articles. The collaboration team consists of university professionals and agricultural producers. These collaborations led to reduced pesticide use, increased reliance on biological control, improved worker safety and increased farmer profitability on the more than $15 billion in agricultural commodities grown in the southern San Joaquin Valley.

Haviland accepted the award on behalf of the team on July 9 at the Western States Joint Summer Meeting in Albuquerque, NM. Haviland also gave a short presentation to the joint meeting of Western state extension directors, research station directors, agriculture and extension deans and CARET members.

Van Eenaannaam honored for animal breeding and genetics research 

Alison Van Eenennaam

The American Society of Animal Science presented its Rockefeller Prentice Memorial Award in Animal Breeding and Genetics to Alison Van Eenennaam, UCCE specialist in the UC Davis Department of Animal Science.

Van Eenennaam has developed an internationally recognized research program in animal breeding and genetics, with an emphasis on beef cattle. She conducts both basic lab and applied field research on subjects ranging from genome editing to validation of DNA tests, along with work to ensure regulatory policy allows access to innovative breeding technologies. She has delivered more than 600 presentations, translating her research to stakeholder groups with skill and passion.

She received the award July 10 at the 2019 American Society of Animal Science and Canadian Society of Animal Science annual meeting held in Austin, Texas.

Vidalakis named to prestigious, endowed citrus research position 

Georgios Vidalakis

Georgios Vidalakis, professor and UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Microbiology and Plant Pathology Department at UC Riverside, has been named Presidential Researcher for Sustainable Citrus Clonal Protection. The position will enable Vidalakis, a plant pathologist, to continue doing research that improves citrus production and quality in California.

A $1 million endowment fund for this work was established by the state's Citrus Research Board with funds matched by the UC President. It will support Vidalakis for the next five years as he helps develop diagnostic tools and therapies for citrus pathogens.

Vidalakis is director of the UC Citrus Clonal Protection Program, or CCPP, which is a collaborative program between the UCR Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, the CA Department of Food and Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and California's citrus industry.

The Citrus Research Board provides the CCPP with assessment funds from the $3.4 billion California citrus industry. The CCPP maintains more than 450 varieties free from diseases. – Jules Bernstein

 

UC Merced chancellor, 4-H’er and VP discuss community outreach with regents

From left, UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland and 4-H member Melina Granados joined VP Humiston to discuss UC ANR impacts with UC regents.

UC VP Glenda Humiston, 4-H member Melina Granados of Riverside County and UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland gave the UC regents a presentation about UC ANR's community outreach and impact. The Public Engagement & Development Committee meeting was held at the UCSF–Mission Bay Conference Center on Jan. 24, 2018, in San Francisco.

Opening the discussion, Humiston gave an overview of ANR, explaining that for 150 years ANR has been bringing the power of UC directly to the people in all California counties. Melina, who was born in Mexico, talked about her role as president of the Eastside Eagles 4-H club and what she has learned. Leland described joint projects between UC Merced and ANR in climate adaptation, nutrition and drone technology research.

Watch the 25-minute recording of the UC ANR presentation to the regents below, or visit https://youtu.be/ptFS8HwlsjE.

Posted on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at 12:37 AM
Focus Area Tags: Economic Development, Environment, Family

AI can help growers more precisely manage their fields, Humiston tells Little Hoover Commission

Glenda Humiston gave testimony on the impacts of artificial intelligence in the agricultural sector to the Little Hoover Commission in Sacramento on Jan. 25.

Artificial intelligence, or AI, can improve precision agriculture by using sensed environmental data to “learn” and continually adapt, VP Glenda Humiston told the Little Hoover Commission at a hearing in Sacramento on Jan. 25.

The Little Hoover Commission is reviewing the impacts of artificial intelligence. While there is no singular definition, artificial intelligence encompasses a broad range of technologies that seek to approximate some aspect of human intelligence or behavior.  

Throughout its study, the commission will consider the potential policy role of California state government in areas such as regulation, workforce development and retraining.

Humiston was asked to give a statement on the impacts of artificial intelligence in the agricultural sector.

“California's working landscapes face some critical challenges; among those are drought, climate change, air quality, soil health, pests, pathogens and invasive species,” she said. “Additionally, rural/urban conflicts and urban sprawl continue to reduce available farm land and make viability of food production more difficult.

“Of importance to today's hearing, California's labor-intensive crops are facing increasing difficulty accessing necessary labor – both skilled and unskilled. This situation has led growers and universities to seek solutions through mechanization, automation and other new technologies.”

She sees opportunities in precision agriculture for growers and ranchers to more precisely manage their operations by using site- and crop-specific data gathered by new technologies.

“Artificial intelligence improves this further by using the sensed environmental data to ‘learn' and continually adapt to ever-changing conditions as it receives data that strengthens the computer's ‘intelligence,'” she said.

Humiston also outlined some of the challenges to harnessing the power of AI for agriculture.

“Artificial intelligence is extremely difficult in agriculture because of the huge amount of variability in environmental conditions across a single field,” she said. “This requires many sensors, complex algorithms, and large real-time data processing – all integrated and working together to inform decisions and actions.”

In a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, the vast majority of the 1,896 experts anticipated that robotics and artificial intelligence will “permeate wide segments of daily life by 2025.” The commission's artificial intelligence project will investigate the shape and speed of these changes in California and in society.

Through its public process, the commission intends to study the key challenges of artificial intelligence in California, its economic implications and how it can be used to solve societal ills. The commission will review issues such as justice, equity, safety and privacy. The project will consider recent studies on workforce impacts, which could include both job creation and job displacement. Possible mitigations and worker protections will be discussed as will examples of efforts to plan and prepare for innovations and labor transformations. 

To read Humiston's full testimony to the Little Hoover Commission, visit http://www.lhc.ca.gov/sites/lhc.ca.gov/files/CurrentStudies/ArtificialIntelligence/WrittenTestimony/HumistonJan2018.pdf.

 

Posted on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at 12:20 AM
Focus Area Tags: Innovation

Names in the News

Katie Johnson
Johnson named nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor

Cathryn “Katie” Johnson joined UCCE on Jan. 2, 2018, as an area nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for the Central Sierra Multi-County Partnership serving El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties. The long-time resident of the Sierra foothills is passionate about developing an integrated approach to fighting chronic disease and improving community nutrition in the region.

Prior to joining UCCE, Johnson had been a health educator for the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency, Public Health Division, since January 2017. There, she worked on policy, systems and environmental change strategies, program planning and local evaluation for the SNAP-Ed/NEOP (Nutrition Education & Obesity Prevention) program, and served as the WIC (Women, Infants & Children) regional breastfeeding liaison.

From 2015 to 2016, Johnson held the positions of communication evaluation and development consultant and staff research assistant at the UC Merced Communication, Culture and Health Research Lab. At UC Merced, she contributed to strategic communications and formative evaluation for the CDC-funded PICH (Partnerships to Improve Community Health) project and coordinated community-engaged research on Merced residents' perceptions of health and safety. Previously, Johnson helped to manage small farms in Northern California and New Mexico, growing fruits and vegetables for sale at local markets. Johnson is also an international board-certified lactation consultant and has counseled breastfeeding families.

She earned a master of public health degree (with a concentration in public health nutrition) from UC Berkeley and a B.A. in environmental studies from Wellesley College.

Johnson is based in San Andreas and can be reached at (209) 754-6476 and ckrjohnson@ucanr.edu.

Laurent Ahiablame
Ahiablame joins UCCE San Diego County as director and water advisor

Laurent Ahiablame joined ANR as the UC Cooperative Extension director and water quality and management advisor in San Diego County on Dec. 18, 2017.

Ahiablame's research activities integrate environmental observations and computer modeling supported by ArcGIS to advance understanding of the fate and transport of water and related constituents across various spatial and temporal scales.

Prior to joining UCCE, Ahiablame was an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at South Dakota State University from 2014 to 2017. From 2013 to 2014, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Ahiablame earned a Ph.D. and a M.S. in agricultural and biological engineering from Purdue University and a B.S. in bioenvironmental engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Ahiablame can be reached at (858) 822-7673 and lmahiablame@ucanr.edu.

Kari Arnold
Arnold named orchard and vineyard systems advisor

Kari Arnold joined UCCE as an area orchard and vineyard systems advisor in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties on Nov. 1, 2017.

Prior to joining UCCE, Arnold was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, where she participated in a statewide extension and outreach program involving viruses in grapevines and the certification program, collaborated with county viticulture advisors and industry leaders to facilitate grower workgroups for regional management of grapevine viruses, and provided presentations at grower meetings.

As a graduate student researcher from 2011 to October 2016, Arnold participated in individual grower meetings and surveys, facilitated and collaborated with a grower workgroup for areawide disease management in Napa vineyards, and conducted statistical characterization of spatial and temporal patterns of insect-vectored plant viruses. From 2009 to 2011, Arnold also worked as a staff research associate and nursery technician for Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis, where she provided employee training; worked on team oriented projects; provided tours, conducted virus indexing, and collected and analyzed data.

Arnold completed an M.S. and a Ph.D. in plant pathology from UC Davis and a B.S. in horticulture from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Based in Modesto, Arnold can be reached at (209) 525-6821and klarnold@ucanr.edu. Follow her on Twitter @KariDigsPlants. 

Farzaneh Khorsandi
Khorsandi named ag safety and health engineer specialist 

Farzaneh Khorsandi Kouhanestani joined UCCE on Sept. 1, 2017, as an assistant agricultural safety and health engineer specialist in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at UC Davis.

Prior to joining UCCE, Khorsandi Kouhanestani worked as research assistant and Ph.D. student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her research is mainly related to agricultural machine design and evaluating the performance of the designed machines both experimentally and theoretically. The designed systems in the Ph.D. project were related to agricultural machinery safety. During her M.S. work, she designed, manufactured and evaluated the performance of a hand-held fruit harvester, a catch frame and a fruit sorter. After completing her M.S., she was a design engineer for an agricultural machinery design company, working on several design projects including a granule spreader, feed cutter and mixer and hay harvester.

Khorsandi Kouhanestani earned a B.S. in mechanics of agricultural machinery engineering in Iran, an M.S. in mechanics of agricultural machinery engineering from Shiraz University, Iran, and a Ph.D. in biosystems engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Khorsandi Kouhanestani is based at UC Davis and can be reached at (530) 752-7848 and fkhorsandi@ucdavis.edu.

Pramod Pandey
Pandey receives state's highest environmental honor 

California Safe Soil and Pramod Pandey, UCCE specialist in UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, were among 13 California organizations that received the state's highest environmental honor, the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), in a ceremony at the California Environmental Protection Agency in Sacramento on Jan. 17.

The award recognizes the public-private partnership and collaborative research among California Safe Soil, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to recycle organic food waste into fertilizer and feed for agricultural use.

California Safe Soil has a proprietary new technology – enzymatic digestion – to recycle organic biomass. However, they had to prove that recycling food into fertilizer and feed can be done safely, without foodborne pathogens.

California Safe Soil worked with Pandey to conduct pathogen challenge research. Annette Jones and Douglas Hepper at CDFA and Bart Weimer, professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine, and Glenn Young, professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology, helped formulate the pathogen challenge test, which provided the scientific results needed to allow CDFA to issue an operating license for the enzymatic digestion.

Pandey's research, which was published in a peer-reviewed journal, proved that California Safe Soil's method for recycling organic food waste into fertilizer and feed is based on robust science and technology.

GEELA recipients are chosen from five categories including climate change, ecosystem and land-use stewardship, environmental education, sustainable practices and waste reduction. 

Trevor Suslow
Suslow honored by Steinbeck Center

Trevor Suslow, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis and director of the Postharvest Center, received the 2017 Valley of the World Education Award given by the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas. The center established its Valley of the World Awards to honor key figures in the Salinas Valley agricultural industry.

“In the spirit of John Steinbeck's writings, the education award recognizes an individual who through his or her teaching and efforts has inspired and nourished a lifelong love of learning,” the center says on its website.

In presenting the award, the center described Suslow as having “one of the most active extension education and outreach programs” among extension specialists.

“Conservatively, he has provided over 1,500 local, state, national and international technical, extension education, training and outreach presentations on crop protection, soil and phyllosphere microbiology, biotechnology, fresh and fresh-cut produce quality systems, and microbial food safety of fresh produce,” the center wrote.

Soule named one of Top 20 under 40 in SLO

Katherine Soule

The San Luis Obispo Tribune has chosen Katherine Soule, UC Cooperative Extension director and advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, as one of its Top 20 under 40. The Tribune's annual competition recognizes young professionals “who are making significant contributions in the fields of health care, business, law, government and the nonprofit sector. Not only have they demonstrated excellence in their careers, they also have shown a profound commitment to public service.”

In the news article announcing the winners, the newspaper says that Soule has earned state and national recognition for improving community health and increasing diversity in youth participation.

“As the extension's youth, families and communities advisor for the last several years, Soule developed new 4-H programs engaging underserved youths and promoting healthy living, leadership and social development. Her efforts nearly doubled enrollment and boosted Latino participation 26.8 percent. She's delivered nutrition education to more than 10,000 people through various partnerships,” the Tribune wrote.

It goes on to add, “Soule is a founding member of the Cultivating Change Foundation, working to improve inclusivity for the LGBTQ community in agriculture locally and nationwide.”

Federal grant to fund preservation of UCCE history

An ongoing effort to collect, digitally preserve and share 100 years of historical records by the UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) has earned the UC Merced Library a more than $300,000 grant.

“We're extremely proud to be able to further the work already begun on the UCCE project,” UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “Our library is producing a collection that demonstrates the organization's lasting effects on the state, the work it has done in the past and its potential for the future.”

The work is especially relevant to the San Joaquin Valley, said Emily Lin, the UC Merced Library's Head of Digital Curation and Scholarship.

“We have a lot of archives and historic records based around urban centers, but we haven't been collecting the records of rural California in any systematic way,” she said. “But rural California has had an incredible influence on the state's history. California was transformed by agriculture over the past century.”

A four-year pilot archive project began after the UCCE centennial in 2014.

The Archivist of the United States approved the $308,900 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission for “A Century of Impact: Documenting the Work of the Cooperative Extension in California's Counties.” The three-year project will begin in the summer, after Lin and others hire a group of undergraduate students to help with the work. Additionally, the project will be part of an informational booth at the World Ag Expo in February in Tulare — UC Merced's first appearance at the exposition, which draws more than 100,000 people from all over the world.

“We were convinced the history of Cooperative Extension in California was worthy of preserving when we launched the pilot project four years ago,” said Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), the organization that oversees UCCE. “The federal grant to continue this work confirms the value of UCCE history and its contribution to California's prosperity.”

A pilot project, begun after the 2014 centennial of the UCCE, looked at Merced, Ventura and Humboldt counties' UCCE records, and produced a stack of material 70 linear feet long — just for Merced County. A banker box is about 1 linear foot.

Records from Humboldt County included disaster responses from the 1955 and 1964 historic floods, while Merced County's records were mainly about crops, irrigation, the beginnings of the Merced Irrigation District and 4-H. Each county's records provide insight into its unique characteristics, Lin said.

The new project will collect 100 years' worth of reports and historic photographs from 20 California counties — in the Valley, along the coast, up north at the edges of the Sierra and along the southern border — and will geocode all the records.

Part of the archive collection, a vintage photo of a UCCE Merced County vehicle.

“This project is of great potential value in supporting a number of lines of existing research, as well as in opening up new and fruitful areas of inquiry into the interrelated topics of democracy, technology and community,” said David Campbell, a political scientist and the associate dean for social/human sciences in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis. He wrote a letter of support for the project that was included in the application.

The digitization project will help researchers at all levels, Professor Mario Sifuentez said.

“It provides access to a trove of documents that shed light on the nature and development of agriculture in the region, which amazingly has been understudied,” he said. “Despite living in the heart of one of the most productive agricultural regions of the world, few people really understand how agriculture in the Central Valley works. I am invested in producing work and helping students produce work that explains the historical trajectory of how the Valley ended up as ‘The Valley,' and agriculture is the main component of that story.”

The archives set the stage for many research projects across many disciplines. Historians will find the records helpful, but so will people studying progressive era institutions, immigration, race relations, social movements, technological change or the rich history of food and agriculture in California, Campbell said. There are also implications for political science and public policy scholarship; environmental and climate studies around such topics as water and pesticide use; material for economists and labor market scholars; and geographers.

The library is working with the San Joaquin Valley Historical Society, and San Diego State University will also have a set of the records digitized when the project is completed. In addition, regional 4-H students will be part of the project, helping tag and digitize the material.

Cornell University Professor Scott Peters, a historian of higher education who wrote a letter of support for the project, said engaging with local students and their families through a 4-H project is particularly valuable.

“It's always important to help young people connect with the history of their communities,” Peters said. “These historical materials will enrich their understanding of the vision, values, ideals, tensions, dilemmas and struggles that the work of building a democratic culture in partnership with higher education requires and involves. And it helps them understand their own role in history and ask themselves what they are creating and leaving that will be part of history 100 years from now.”

After the 2014 centennial, UC ANR allocated funds to locate a professional archivist at the UC Merced library, which is becoming known for creating comprehensive digital collections of historical materials.

Archivist Lisa Vallen began work with the three pilot counties. She found UCCE records in the National Archives as well as pictures, negatives and documents spread throughout the state.

“Ideally, historical records should be kept in a space that's climate controlled,” Vallen said. “In Ventura, they have some in a container on a farm. That's not ideal at all.”

The ANR hopes this project will help not only researchers, but will educate the public and policy makers about UCCE.

“There's no question about the value of this project and the richness it brings to the whole state, not just UC,” said UC Merced University Librarian Haipeng Li.

Posted on Monday, January 29, 2018 at 8:49 AM
  • Author: Lorena Anderson
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

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