21 March 2017 – New students starting their Masters of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Integrated Crop Management (ICM) were welcomed to Switzerland at an opening ceremony in Delémont, earlier this month (3 March 2017).
Coordinated by CABI and the University of Neuchâtel, the course is designed for professionals in the field of agriculture and environment management who hold a Masters or Bachelor’s degree alongside practical experience in a range of fields such as agricultural extension, research and education.
The 12 students taking this year’s course come from Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Zambia. They will spend the next nine months gaining theoretical and practical knowledge on best practices in crop management that can be applied in their home countries.
Speaking about the importance of the course in contributing to food security, Professor Ted Turlings, a lecturer at the University of Neuchâtel said, “Agriculture is the most important activity on the planet and there is no human activity that puts more pressure on our natural resources than agriculture.” He quoted Sir John Beddington, the UK’s Chief scientific advisor from 2008-2013, who described a ‘perfect storm’, predicting that the expected increase in population by 2030 will lead to food shortage, water scarcity, insufficient energy resources and mass migration. Professor Turlings rounded up his talk by urging everyone to help prevent this perfect storm and not rely on politicians alone.
Christophe Cattin, Head of the Canton of Jura’s Department of Secondary and Tertiary Education, said, “Your countries all face a very big challenge – to produce enough food while protecting the environment and managing the limited resources available. I hope that the course helps with your contribution to improving agriculture and making a better world.”
Launched in 2015, this is the third year the course has been delivered in Switzerland with the support of the Canton of Jura, the CABI-led Plantwise programme and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). In the first two years of the course, 23 agricultural professions from 14 developing countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America were successfully trained.
Speaking on behalf of this year’s course participants, Henry Msatilomo, Chief Agriculture Extension Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Malawi, said, “In our respective countries, food security is still an issue and we believe that integrated crop management will be a sustainable way of addressing this challenge. We are happy to be part of this course. It is our wish that we will not only go back with a Masters degree in ICM but we will be able to use our new knowledge and skills to help farmers back home.”
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