VSU Researcher Francoise Favi's volunteer work in Bangladesh earns her national honor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  June 4, 2018

Contact: Michelle Olgers, Marketing & Communications Dept., 804-524-6964, molgers@vsu.edu 

VSU Professor Wins National Honor for Volunteer Service

Dr. Francoise Favi, laboratory and research specialist in entomology with Virginia State University’s (VSU) Agricultural Research Station, has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national honor offered in recognition of volunteer service. Favi received the award on April 21 during National Volunteer Week.

“I am overwhelmed with joy,” Favi said. “This work involved a lot of time outside my regular employment. I am very grateful to VSU and everyone who helped… we have made a great contribution toward U.S. assistance for international development.” 

Favi received the award for her volunteer work in Bangladesh on a project to grow cassava for industrial use. Cassava, a tropical plant native to South America, is used as an industrial crop in Asia, but is not currently grown in Bangladesh. The cassava’s tuber is used to make gluten-free starch that is turned into either the sweetener glucose or flour. Cassava starch is also vital for the clothing industry. Bangladesh’s clothing industry accounts for 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, but 90 percent of cassava starch used in Bangladesh is imported from Thailand.

PRAN Agro Business Limited, a food processor and agribusiness company in Bangladesh, decided to grow cassava for industrial purposes and needed a volunteer to train entrepreneurs involved in the project. As part of her volunteer work, Favi visited farms to assess the status of cassava production, agricultural practices, problems and potential pests. She trained PRAN staff and cassava producers on improved production methods and developed training modules for future training. She also established a surveillance unit to monitor crop pests and diseases.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award was established in 2003 by President George W. Bush and is awarded annually to individuals, groups and families who have met or exceeded requirements for volunteer service and have demonstrated exemplary citizenship through volunteering. Winrock International (Winrock) is one of thousands of Certifying Organizations participating in the Award program and confers the award to recognize the outstanding achievements of its volunteers.  More than 200 people volunteer each year on behalf of Winrock through the Farmer-to-Farmer Program funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

Founded in 1882, Virginia State University is one of Virginia’s two land-grant institutions and is located 20 minutes south of Richmond in the village of Ettrick.

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