5) Global consortium maps out strategies to revitalize agricultural education

Hyderabad, Telangana, India (12 March 2015) – ‘One Agriculture-One Science,’ a global consortium of agricultural education and research institutes  across Asia, Africa and the USA, has mapped out plans and strategies to expand its initiatives to revitalize and bring systematic changes in agricultural education, capacity building and technology transfer in developing countries.

Bringing this global partnership to the next level, technology platforms to deliver Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), learning and experiences from other online education initiatives, and current challenges and opportunities in agricultural education were deliberated on toward coming up with a strategic plan of action during a recent global planning meeting.

The ‘One Agriculture-One Science’ Global Planning Meeting focused on ways to expand and strengthen the consortium in order to encourage more youth into agriculture and to reach out to millions of farmers to use scientific innovations to transform agriculture into a dynamic sector. It was held at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) global headquarters on 9-10 March 2015.

“In order to provide nutritious food for 9.6 billion people and create economic opportunity for farmers, specific attention is needed to leverage ICTs and modern knowledge exchange methodology to train the next generation of agricultural researchers, extension officers and farmers. One Agriculture-One Science is an exciting coalition to support demand-driven human and institutional capacity building. MOOCs offer an exciting opportunity to scale up knowledge exchange of best practices to empower farmers, especially youth, to increase their profitability and adaptability in the face of climate change,” said Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT.

The ‘One Agriculture-One Science’ consortium (http://www.oneagriculture.org/) aims to use latest advancements in technology to address changes and adaptations required for agricultural education to better contribute to development goals, particularly to the attainment of food and nutrition security and sustainable agricultural production.

It envisions to provide members with shared access to learning resources such as MOOCs among and across higher education learning networks, extension agencies and agriculture professionals; technology delivery platforms; and ways to enable organizations to expand their impacts and partnerships.

“The task of revitalizing global agricultural education requires all of us to work together in developing an education and capacity building roadmap focused on how we can better contribute to nutrition and food security on a global scale, through this global education consortium for development,” emphasized Dr Peter Carberry, Deputy Director General - Research, ICRISAT.

“With the One Agriculture-One Science initiative we are aiming at modernizing the way we educate agriculture students, young scientists, farmers and other extensional professionals to make them more innovative and get them excited about agriculture as a science and enterprise,” said Dr Guntuku Dileepkumar, Global Leader, Knowledge Sharing and Innovation and Director for Center of Excellence in ICT Innovations for Agriculture, ICRISAT.

‘One Agriculture-One Science’ was initiated in July 2014 by ICRISAT and partner universities in the USA like the University of Florida, Michigan State University, and Iowa State University. It quickly gained support from organizations in India like the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and International organizations Cal Poly Pomona, Auburn University, Cornell University, Colorado State University, and Washington State University.

The initiative in India specifically seeks to contribute to its agricultural education system through strategic coalition of regional, national and international partners. The MOOCs are a recent development in the ‘life-long learning’ initiative in the country, which has now been boosted by the consortium through the pooling of international expertise, experience and resources.

“I believe that the MOOCs platform can help us in reaching out to the masses and thousands of agricultural extension agents in India,” said Dr Satya Gopal, IAS, Director General, MANAGE.

At the global planning meeting, Dr Pradeep Kaul, representative of the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT), shared the Government of India’s plan to invest in the MOOCs platform and digital interaction video channels and agreed to provide full support to the consortium.

“Policies are being laid out to raise the standard of education and research so that Indian universities can compete globally. This consortium will enable us to offer skills training and break societal stigma by providing academic excellence in vocational education,” highlighted Dr D Rama Rao, Director General, NAARM.

“Capacity development is one of CGIAR’s focus areas critical to the attainment of the goals and objectives of the CGIAR Research Programs. The One Agriculture-One Science initiative provides a great window of opportunity in strengthening the cause of a global education and capacity development in agriculture,” according to Dr Enrico Bonaiuti, Research Programme Coordinator, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).

The event was attended by 92 national and international experts/officials composed of Vice-Chancellors, Deans, Professors and Dignitaries from agricultural universities, non-profit organizations, and government institutions; and key senior officials/staff of ICRISAT.

For more information please contact: Dileepkumar Guntuku at +91 40 30713205 or g.dileepkumar@cgiar.org, Cristina P Bejosano at +91 4030713236 or c.bejosano@cgiar.org or Showkat Rather at +91 897 888 2187 or r.showkat@cgiar.org
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