Six international development lessons and their underlying philosophical themes are presented as postulates, and examples of their application in Texas-Mexico agricultural development are presented. They are influenced by the author’s 22 years of experiences in three development settings – an international agricultural research center, an international foundation, and a land-grant university. The six lessons are: there must be (1) dialogue between experts from both Mexico and Texas in determining the issues that are to be addressed; (2) representation from the groups that will ultimately benefit from joint efforts at all steps of the process; (3) sharing of costs for every activity that is conducted; (4) a marketing component in all projects, whenever possible; (5) student involvement at every opportunity; and (6) joint evaluation of outcomes for policy impact.
These lessons are serving as a foundation for interaction and bi-national collaboration between The Agriculture Program of the Texas A&M University System and a consortium of universities, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and producer associations from northeast Mexico.
Fourteen completed and eight on-going bi-national projects, funded largely by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, abide by these lessons. This paper should be useful to educators who have interests in development work with Mexico or with other countries with whom travel and communication is easy and for which cross cultural factors exist. It also sets a framework for developing proposals that may increase their competitiveness with donors who not only want to support projects that are comprehensive and interdisciplinary but also have potential for informing policy setters.