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VSU researcher receives meritorious service award for work with industrial hemp

Dr. Maru Kipleting Kering
Dr. Maru Kipleting Kering. Photo courtesy Virginia State University.

Dr. Maru Kipleting Kering, an associate professor at the Agricultural Research Station at Virginia State University, recently received the 2021 Land-Grant University Award from the Virginia Agribusiness Council.

The award was announced at the council’s Vision 2021 Virtual Celebration held Jan. 14. The annual event is a celebration of agriculture in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the event was held virtually this year, and the award presentation will occur later in 2021.

Kering, the lead hemp researcher at VSU, has made significant contributions to industrial hemp research and production in the Commonwealth.

“We are thrilled to award Dr. Maru Kering of Virginia State University the 2021 VAC Land-Grant University Award,” said Sarah Jane Thomsen, director of member services and events for the Virginia Agribusiness Council.

The award goes to an outstanding faculty member or employee of a Virginia land-grant university for meritorious service to the industry of agribusiness during their career, Thomsen said. “Dr. Kering perfectly embodies the award through his work that has generated tremendous interest in the hemp program at VSU and hemp production by Virginia farmers.

Kering, who has a doctorate in agronomy (plant nutrition and physiology) from the University of Missouri, has led hemp research efforts at VSU since 2016. Virginia State University was one of several higher learning institutions authorized to conduct industrial hemp research in the Commonwealth after the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill by the U.S. Congress and the subsequent enactment of the Industrial Hemp Law by the Virginia General Assembly in 2015.

“This award to Dr. Kering shows the significant role Virginia State University is playing in developing and promoting industrial hemp as an alternative crop for Virginia farmers,” said Dr. Wondi Mersie, associate dean and director of the Agricultural Research Station. “We will continue to generate the necessary research-based information that will help make industrial hemp a viable and profitable crop in Virginia.”

The Virginia Agribusiness Council is a Richmond-based non-profit that advocates for business interests in the agriculture and forestry industry. It serves as a liaison between governing bodies and the industry.

Its membership includes farmers, foresters, agricultural producers, industry suppliers, marketers, processors, commodity and industry associations.


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