14)ICRISAT offers short courses with University of Florida

The University of Florida (UF) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) will soon establish a joint University of Florida-ICRISAT International Distance Education Center (UF-ICRISAT-IDEC) based at the latter’s headquarters in Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh, India.

A Letter of Agreement was recently signed by ICRISAT Director General Dr William D Dar and UF Interim Senior Vice President, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Dr Larry Arrington.

This collaboration is designed to create opportunities to develop and strengthen regionally relevant training and education programs. The new center will further enable ICRISAT and UF to pursue areas of common interest drawing on the joint expertise of the two partner institutions.

A series of short courses will be offered by the UF faculty with the participation of ICRISAT scientists. The first set of courses will deal with GIS in landscape analysis, analysis of bioenergy projects, soil and water science aspects in watershed development, crop modeling, and the use of geo-statistical data in environmental assessment. Future topics will include biotechnology and related topics as well. Participants in these short courses will receive a certificate jointly issued by the UF and ICRISAT.

Talking about this new initiative, Dr William Dar says, “Capacity strengthening of professionals in the developing countries is an absolute must in the current context of new vulnerabilities and opportunities in agriculture and natural resources management. We consider this as a first step in bringing research universities such as U Florida closer to where the developing country professionals work”.

Dr Larry Arrington believes that this initiative will contribute to strengthening UF’s presence in the South Asian region. “We are pleased to partner with ICRISAT in this joint educational endeavor, which will help the UF to build its presence in South Asia. This region is of great importance to our expanding international presence. Moreover, this partnership with ICRISAT provides us with an opportunity to join with our Center colleagues on a wide array of research and education activities of mutual interest.”

The center will also lead to the development of new opportunities for UF faculty to strengthen and enhance the international reputation of UF’s educational programs in the areas of sustainable agriculture and rural/urban development, natural resource conservation, and the protection of the environment.

In addition, and as a secondary activity, UF-ICRISAT-IDEC will contribute to the development of study-abroad opportunities for UF undergraduate students, graduate student research, promotion of faculty sabbaticals with South and Southeast Asia-based institutions (especially in India), and the facilitation of research partnerships and collaboration.

The first course in the series, GIS for landscape analysis, will begin on 27 July and will be led by Dr Sabine Grunwald, Distance Education Coordinator of UF.

To date, ICRISAT has invested substantial resources in strengthening the capacity of regional partners to promote improved food and livelihood security in the drylands of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

UF has been engaged in research and educational activities in the region focused on improved water and nutrient utilization for sustainable crop production and conservation of soil and water resources as well as curriculum innovations for improving higher education using e-technologies.

For further information, contact Dr V Balaji, Head, Knowledge Management and Sharing, ICRISAT at

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