To address the escalating demand for food, fiber and energy crops as the world’s population grows from 7 to over 9 billion, plant scientists from around the world must work together to develop new crops with better nutritional properties that can flourish in dry climates and are less susceptible to disease. Thus, it is a high priority to train a diverse workforce that is globally engaged in the plant sciences and will contribute to the resolution of the world food shortage. To address this need, the proposed PIRE project will establish an interdisciplinary training and research program on the evolution and interactions of plant viruses with their hosts and vectors. The program will develop strong collaborative interactions between U.S. trainees and African scientists and engage groups in the U.S. that are underrepresented in the STEM disciplines. The proposed U.S.–East Africa partnership will provide a framework for U.S. students and early career scientists to collaborate with researchers at BecA and MARI, who are at the forefront of the campaign to realize Africa’s full agricultural potential. A partnership with African scientists offers an excellent opportunity for research synergy with U.S. scientists and training of U.S. students for a global economy, and will be an enabling factor in the advancement of the developing world’s aspirations for sustainable food production and alleviation of poverty.