Dr. Samia Akroush
Leading Research Exchange Between Jordan and Gainesville
Dr. Samia Akroush is the Director of the Socioeconomic Studies Directorate at the National Center for Agricultural Research and Extension (NCARE), a premier agricultural research institution in Jordan. Dr. Akroush, agricultural economist by training (PhD in Agricultural Economics from Aleppo University, Syria), runs a busy directorate responsible for socio-economic baseline studies, feasibility studies, gender & social capital studies, livelihood and poverty analysis and adoption, and impact assessment studies of applied agricultural research on many national and regional projects in a country slightly smaller than the state of Indiana.
Since 2010, and hosted by the UF International Center, Dr. Akroush has been closely involved in the coordination and implementation of several University of Florida projects in the Middle East, especially in Jordan. The UF-NCARE partnership started with UF’s involvement in the USAID-funded Water and Livelihoods Initiative (WLI) Project in eight Middle Eastern countries, including Jordan, by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). Dr. Akroush led both the socio-economic activities for Jordan/WLI benchmark sites and the regional WLI socioeconomic thematic groups to coordinate and conduct baseline and economic studies on high impact agricultural technologies aimed at boosting farmers’ productivity as well as empowering community-based organizations. The initial UF-NCARE study was focused on gender research for WLI benchmark site in Jordan which later resulted in three separate but interrelated research projects including Women’s Groups and Social Capital, Adoption of Fertigation Techniques, and Assessment of Researchers and Extension Agents’ Perceptions, and Farmers’ Willingness to Adopt WLI Proven Technologies. All three projects were funded by the USAID-funded Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS) to fill the knowledge gap that exists about Jordanian women’s involvement in agriculture as well as barriers to scaling-up agricultural technologies and innovations in the region.
This is the third time for Dr. Akroush to visit UF’s campus. Every trip results in more research funding for UF and NCARE, concept note development, and partnership building focusing on expanding UF’s research footprint in Jordan and the Middle East. This year’s trip has provided an opportunity for Dr. Akroush to participate and present at the MEAS Symposium 2015 titled Strengthening Extension and Advisory Services for Lasting Impacts, which was held June 3rd-5th, 2015 in Washington, DC. Dr. Akroush participated in a panel discussion titled Harnessing the Power of Extension to Transform Gender Roles and Improve Household and Community Nutrition Outcomes to share her experiences with gender transformative approaches in Jordan and the Middle East as a region. The panel was chaired by Dr. Sandra Russo from the UF International Center. The session also offered ideas and strategies to enlarge empowerment processes taking place globally.
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