The Masters of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Integrated Crop Management (ICM) course has welcomed 12 new students during an opening ceremony in Delémont, the capital of the Swiss Canton of Jura, taking the total number of students who have enrolled on the course since 2015 to 63.
The MAS ICM course, coordinated by CABI and the University of Neuchâtel, presents a unique opportunity for agriculture professionals from developing countries to gain new knowledge and skills in sustainable agricultural practices which help to address food security and food safety.
This year’s course participants are from Africa, Asia and the Americas and will be building on their practical experiences in agricultural extension, research and education. The course is taught in Switzerland with the support of the Canton of Jura, the CABI-led Plantwise Programme and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
At the opening ceremony, Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann, CABI’s Executive Director, Global Operations, told the students that they hold a unique and special position in joining the programme during the International Year of Plant Health. This is a year set aside to emphasise the importance of plants to the existence of human life and health. As part of this CABI is collaborating with Wageningen University and Koppert Biological Systems to hold the first Plant Health, Agriculture & Bioscience Conference (PHAB 2020) which will be held on 9-11 September, 2020 in The Hague, the Netherlands.
Dr Kuhlmann said, “The MAS in ICM course epitomises CABI’s ethos of creating and applying knowledge that addresses the agricultural and environmental challenges faced by millions of smallholder farmers around the world. For example, around 821 million people in the world currently do not have enough food to eat and the threat posed by crop pests and diseases puts a considerable strain on our efforts to help ensure global food security“
“The MAS in ICM qualification provides students with a holistic approach to crop production, which becomes more important in today’s world with issues like gender equality and climate change very much in focus within the work carried out by CABI and its partners.”
The nine-month course includes 14 modules with 600 hours of teaching to prepare the students for important roles within the agricultural sectors in their home countries.
Professor Ted Turlings, Vice-director of the Institute of Biology, University of Neuchâtel, emphasised the impact of a dramatically changing world on food production and the type of food being consumed. While welcoming them, he noted that the MAS in ICM students are the future. Prof Turlings said, “We are counting on you to provide real solutions to the problems in your home countries regarding access to what is needed to sustain oneself.”
Students also had an opportunity to share their expectations based on experiences they are bringing from their work in agriculture and sustainable resources.
Nicolas Uwitonze, an Agricultural Extensionist from Rwanda, spoke on the limiting factors to the production of maize – a major crop in his home country – and how the course is expected to help to tackle this challenge. He said, “By attending this course, we will certainly learn more about Integrated Crop Management and how this can help us produce better crops – thereby helping to ensure greater yields and improve livelihoods and local, national and global food security.” He also commented on looking forward to benefiting from the broad range of experiences and expertise his classmates will bring to the course.
Find out more about the MAS in ICM course here.