Ugandan dignitaries visit Oklahoma
Nine delegates from Uganda recently visited Oklahoma to learn about agricultural legislation and policy. The group consisted of six members of parliament who serve on the science and technology committee and three staff members who work with the committee. The group was hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and spent an entire day in Oklahoma City learning from state leaders.
The delegation began the tour at the state Capitol where they were welcomed by International Relations Director Christine Morriss from the secretary of state's office and enjoyed a brief tour of the building. A discussion of current agricultural policy was then facilitated by Craig Perry, senior legislative liaison for Gov. Mary Fallin; Sen. Eddie Fields, chair of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee; and Rep. Don Armes, chair of the Natural Resources and Regulatory Services Committee.
ODAFF officials also visited with the delegation. Teena Gunter, ODAFF general counsel, provided the group with an overview of her work with legislative initiatives that benefit agriculture. Director of the Oklahoma Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service Wil Hundl explained his role in supplying officials with estimates of state commodities.
The group traveled downtown to the Devon Energy Center where they met with Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Bill Whitsitt. After a brief presentation on Devon's work, Whitsitt answered questions concerning energy exploration. The group dined at Devon's in-house Nebu restaurant before taking a tour of the newly completed tower.
Rounding out the meetings for the day was a visit to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. ODOT Chief Engineer Gary Evans and Director of Capital Programs Tim Gatz discussed how roadway projects are picked, planned and executed throughout the state. Oklahoma County Commissioner for District 3 Ray Vaughn compared roadway-related information for Oklahoma with the delegation's native Uganda.
Other highlights of the day included a stop at the Oklahoma Land Run Monument, a tour of the ODAFF agricultural garden and a trip to the state fair.
The Ugandan delegates were the Honorable Stephen Ochola of Serere County; the Honorable Robert Kafeero of Nakifuma County; the Honorable Lucy Ajok, woman representative of the Apac District; the Honorable Phyllis Chemutai, woman representative of the Kapchorwa District; the Honorable Denis Hamson Obua of Ajuri County; the Honorable Waira Kyewalabye of Bunya County East; Mariam Nassali, secretary to the delegation; Peter Acuch, research officer; and Peter Wamboga Mugirya, communications specialist.
The relationship between the Ugandan delegation and ODAFF was first established last year when Mugirya worked at the department as an intern while completing a food security fellowship at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.