Friday, September 4, 2020

Get to know the speakers for our upcoming #AOCSWebinar focused on agro-processing volunteer opportunities

In this upcoming AOCS webinar, "Volunteer Opportunities for AOCS Members from a Tripartite Partnership between AOCS, CNFA’s Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program and the Soybean Innovation Lab," attendees will learn about volunteer opportunities with the USAID’s Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program. This program connects farmers in low-income countries with technical expert volunteers in the U.S. agricultural sector. 

The following industry professionals will explain the workings and impact of F2F in oilseeds in Sub-Saharan African countries – providing technical expertise to larger processors strengthens the entire value chain, creating more nutritious food for populations, higher demand for raw materials and thus income for local farmers, and eventually greater opportunities for employment. 

AOCS members already possess diverse technical expertise in oil-seed processing, so the benefits include increasing your existing impact on the global food system via technology transfer for topics such as fortification, food safety, certifications, and process control and efficiencies. 

Join AOCS on September 10 at 10am CDT (Chicago, USA) to learn about the volunteer opportunity’s application process, typical in-country experiences, post-assign follow-up and an anticipated timeline. Attendees will also learn ways to showcase their potential F2F volunteer activities with AOCS and the broader industry.

The Speakers

Marjatta Eilittä is the Program Director for the USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer Southern Africa program implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), and is based in Lusaka, Zambia. She has worked in agricultural development and research for 25 years, of which 12 years were based in West Africa. During that time, she led agricultural development programs and projects funded by USAID and other donors in livestock research for development, regional trade, agricultural markets and inputs, and soil fertility management. Marjatta has a Ph.D. in Agronomy, with a minor in Food and Resource Economics from the University of Florida. Contact her at


Chipiliro Kantikana is a Project Manager at Sun Seed Oil Ltd, Malawi. Sun Seed is one of the country’s largest soy oil producers, purchasing approximately 40% of local soy production. Mr. Chipi, as he is known by his colleagues, is currently working to expand the access of soya at Sun Seeds by enhancing the capacity of small-scale producers to achieve consistent yields and quality. This endeavor dovetails previous experiences with organizations like the Agricultural Commodity Exchange (ACE) and African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnerships (AFAP). Mr. Kantikana holds a bachelor’s degree of Science in Environmental Science and Technology, with an option in Food Science from the Malawi Polytechnic, a constituent College of the University of Malawi, and received further training in Food Processing at Obihiro University of Japan.


Richard Irish is an independent industrial food-processing consultant. He was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and has lived in the USA for the last 28 years. He has worked and consulted in the food processing environment for over 40 years. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand, was registered as a professional engineer in South Africa. He also holds Certificates of Competence in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering from the South African Government, as well as a certificate from the Management Development Program from the University of South Africa. 


Juan E. Andrade is an associate professor of global food and nutrition at the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville. He holds a B.Sc. in Agricultural Sciences from Zamorano University, Honduras, and a Ph.D. in Human Nutrition from Purdue University. Dr. Andrade's long-term goal is to develop sustainable strategies that can be used to deliver adequate nutrition, especially micronutrients, to residents of low-resource countries and thereby help to promote human health and economic development. His research interests are focused on innovative concepts for food fortification, point-of-use sensing technologies for micronutrients in fortified foods, reformulation of relief food products, and service, experiential learning education programs.  Dr. Andrade is an affiliated faculty in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the Center for Latin American Studies and the Center for African Studies at UF. He is also a research affiliate at the USAID’s Livestock Innovation Lab (LSIL – hosted at UF) and the PI of the Human Nutrition Team at the USAID’s Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL – hosted at the University of Illinois). Dr. Andrade is a member of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, the Institute of Food Technologists, and the American Society for Nutrition.


Dr. William (Bill) Hitz is a veteran agricultural professional having dedicated 36 years to his career at DuPont and DuPont/Pioneer. He was the Technical Lead for biological steps in the conversion of cellulosic feedstocks to fuel ethanol. With research interests ranging from carbohydrate metabolism and transport to fatty acid and lipid synthesis, the primary outcome of his work with crops has been the metabolic engineering of grain quality that leads to high stability oil products in canola and soybean contributing to the basic knowledge of the control of protein, oil and carbohydrate content in legume seeds. Dr. Hitz received BS and MS degrees from Kansas State University and a Ph.D. from Iowa State University. He remains active in retirement as a volunteer doing local environmental work for a water quality NGO and agricultural product processing volunteer work with Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA).


Rodrick Chirambo is a Malawian agribusiness development professional responsible for managing Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture’s (CNFA) Farmer-to-Farmer program in Malawi. Currently, he leads the program’s process of identifying capacity gaps in the legumes industry and designs appropriate training packages to be delivered by US volunteer consultants. Rodrick started his development career as a monitoring officer involved in data collection and analysis to assess the impact of agriculture input supply chain interventions – specifically regarding the productivity and food security situation of affected communities. He then spent about five years in the field of program monitoring, evaluation and learning before settling into program management roles which he has occupied for over a decade. Rodrick graduated with a BSc in Economics in 2000 and went on to earn an MSc in International Business Management from the University of West London in 2006. 

AOCS hopes to see you at this online event. Remember, registration is free. 

Stay up to date with all upcoming #AOCSWebinars.

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