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NMSU's Lowenstein Lecture to shed light on Africa's secret weapon for managing food crises

The New Mexico State University community will have a chance to learn about Africa's secret weapon for battling food crises during this month's Lowenstein Lecture, entitled "Overcoming Food Crises: Rainwater Harvesting in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia."

The lecture will be presented by Maimbo Malesu, coordinator of the Water Management Unit for the World Agroforestry Centre, also known as ICRAF, based in Nairobi, Kenya. Malesu is making the journey to New Mexico for the annual event, which will be held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, in the Chemistry Lecture Hall, Room 153.

"NMSU's International Relations Institute, as part of the university's International Programs, is co-hosting the visit with Mr. Malesu. IRI has established, since 2007, a taskforce on arid lands and water. Water management and conservation are critical international issues, and its proper management is key to bettering the lives of farmers around the world," said Delano Lewis, interim director of International Programs.

"The Lowenstein Lecture series sets out annually to bring renowned scientists in horticulture, agriculture, genetics and environmental science to NMSU to foster greater appreciation of new developments in these fields," said John Mexal, interim department head for Plant and Environmental Sciences.

Also co-hosting Malesu's visit to New Mexico is the Jose Fernandez Memorial Chair in Crop Production. The Jose Fernandez Memorial Chair was established by the Enrique Chavez Family in recognition of his contributions to NMSU and the agricultural community. Income from the endowment is used to provide resources to a faculty member in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences who is engaged in research to develop new ideas in field crop production.

Malesu was asked to participate in this year's lecture in order to strengthen collaborative efforts between NMSU and ICRAF, which have been working together since 2008. The relationship started when Mick O'Neill, professor of agronomy and current Fernandez Chair holder at NMSU's Agricultural Science Center at Farmington, spent his sabbatical conducting research on water management at ICRAF in Malesu's unit. Malesu then served as a mentor for an Honors College student who conducted research in Kenya last summer. O'Neill would now like to open the doors between NMSU and ICRAF for a scientist exchange program and other opportunities for partnership that would not only enhance international relations between both institutions but both nations.

Malesu is an agricultural engineer with 22 years experience in facilitating sustainable smallholder agricultural research and development through improved land and water management, conservation farming, soil and water conservation, small and medium scale irrigation, and rainwater harvesting and management. His responsibilities include managing a program for rainwater harvesting that spans 12 African and six South Asian countries.

For more information about the Lowenstein Lecture, contact Mick O'Neill at 505-960-7757 or moneill@nmsu.edu.