written by Muhammad Nurfaiz Abd Kharim, Fall 2019 Fellow from Malaysia
I’ve been working at an agriculture technology company back in my country and wanted my professional fellowship to be in the field of agro-technology transfer, entrepreneurship, research, and community empowerment. Therefore; my placement is at the University of The District of Columbia (UDC), College of Agricultural, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences under Center for Urban Agriculture and Gardening Education. This is a community empowerment center through knowledge and gardening technique transfer program used to address “food deserts” in the surrounding metropolitan area. Food deserts or food swamps are called that to represent areas that have no full-service grocery store within a one-mile radius. The result of this is a lack of access to high quality, affordable, fresh food results in insufficiency for a significant number of the metropolitan households. Among the damaging effects on children are impaired cognitive development, lower education attainments, slower physical and mental growth, lack of school readiness and reduced in social development.
Therefore, UDC has built a prominent and successful urban agriculture and urban sustainability program that is the Urban Food Hubs model. This program exemplifies the commitment of the university to tackle the issue of food insufficiency within neighborhoods of Washington D.C. by highlighting four components; food production, food preparation, food distribution, and waste and water recovery. This allows them to provide access to fresh food, create more jobs, improve public health, mitigate water management problems thus creating urban resiliency.
The host placement at the UDC is a really good match and the best platform for me to learn and gain experiences as I expected. Even though it’s only been a week at the host placement, I had a chance to participating in a seminar, perform hands on field work at the farm and meet several people within my field. Therefore; seeing them here and making observations gave me the inspiration to start similar programs or practices once I return home.
In fact, since joining this program I’ve had the chance to meet fellows from the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative and Eurasia Professional Fellows Program which allowed me to exchange several ideas and knowledge for later outbound project that can give impactful to our community back in our countries. This opportunity will be among the most memorable experiences of my fellowship.