From left: Lilian Eliah Mpinga, Asma Gharib Bilal, Frida Albinusi Nyamete, Ministry of Education Training Officer Anne Asenga, USAID Mission Director Robert Cunnane, Stanislaus Terengia Materu, Martin John Martin, Fatma Moshi, an alumna from Brandeis University. On Thursday August 18, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) hosted a send-off event for a group of Tanzanians under the Feed the Future Initiative to travel to the United States for graduate studies in the agricultural and food sciences at distinguished U.S. universities. Feed the Future, sponsored by the American people and launched in Tanzania in June 2011 by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is the U.S. governments global hunger and food security initiative. Led by USAID, Feed the Future in Tanzania aligns with the goals of the Government of Tanzania to increase agricultural productivity, decrease poverty, drive economic growth, and reduce malnutrition to improve the lives of Tanzanians. The group of two men and three women are the first participants in a long-term training program under Feed the Future in which as many as 120 Tanzanians will receive post-graduate training - 100 Masters Degrees and 20 Doctoral Degrees - in the United States and other countries around the world. The program's goal is to boost the research skills, knowledge and expertise of Tanzanians working in the agricultural and food science fields. These graduates will contribute to the vanguard of professionals and researchers who can help spearhead the effort to achieve food security in Africa that is envisioned by Feed the Future initiative. The training program responds to a request by the Government of Tanzania to build the ranks of agricultural expertise in research centers and Ministries, and marks a return to U.S. government support to Sokoine University of Agriculture, an institution that USAID helped establish in the 1960s. The Tanzanians now en route for U.S. Universities will be pursuing Masters Degrees: Frida Albinusi Nyamete will receive postgraduate training in Food Science and Technology at Michigan State University, John Martin will study Plant and Soil Science at Tuskegee University located in the state of Alabama, Lilian Eliah Mpinga is pursuing postgraduate training in Horticulture at the University of Florida in the state of Florida, Asma Bilal Gharib , from the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Zanzibar, will also attend the University of Florida to be trained in Food and Resource Economics, and Stanslaus Terengia Materu will attend the University of Florida to pursue postgraduate training in Agriculture and Biological Engineering. At the send-off event for the departing students which was held at USAID in Dar es Salaam, Dr. David Nyange, Senior Agricultural Economist and Deputy Team Leader for the Feed the Future Initiative at USAID Tanzania, acknowledged the commitment that these students have made to furthering their knowledge and expertise in critical fields of study. Dr. Nyange has a personal frame of reference as he himself had also received graduate training in the U.S. in the agricultural sciences. USAID Mission Director Robert Cunanne pointed out that building intellectual capital is a key component of the Feed the Future initiative, noting that building local expertise in nutrition, agronomy and agricultural economics will help develop indigenous solutions to ongoing challenges in food systems around the world. The USAID Mission Director also noted the important role that these students can play in Tanzania; "We hope that this is the first step on their journey to becoming the next generation of agricultural scientists, researchers, engineers, economists and policymakers in Tanzania." The Government of Tanzania was represented by Ms. Anne Asenga, Director of Training at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives. Other attendees at the send-off event included students who have returned from the United States, including Grace Lemunge who also provided advice to the departing students. The students were congratulated at the conclusion of the event by the USAID Mission Director, Government of Tanzania officials, and invited guests, who wished them a "safari njema" to the United States. The Feed the Future Initiative is part of overall U.S. Government direct and multilateral assistance sponsored by the American people to Tanzania of over 850 billion Tanzanian shillings this fiscal year.