The Agricultural Transformation by Innovation (AgTraIn) Programme is one of the Erasmus Mundus PhD programmes. Its main objective is to train the future researchers and professionals within the topics of successful sustainable development and transformation of farming systems in the developing world. The scope ranges from the technical aspects of agricultural production, over post-harvest management, processing and value-addition, to market access and commercialisation.
The most important feature of the programme is the involvement of key stakeholders in identifying research questions and participating in project formulation. The consortium that manages the programme is formed by 6 European Universities: University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Università degli Studi di Catania, Italy; University of Cork, Ireland; Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain; Montpellier SupAgro, France; and Wageningen University, Netherlands. The programme started in 2012 and nowadays it counts with 35 students participating in it.
In Andreas de Needgards, coordinator of AgTraIn, words: “We have to change our production systems, but this is not business-as-usual. We have proven that we can increase 2, 3 or 5 times the food production in one generation time (…) This is the challenge again, he adds, although now we have to think about doing the same thing but focusing on resource efficiency.”
One of the most relevant aspects of AgTraIn is that the field work is conducted in rural areas all over the world. Therefore, AgTraIn PhD students are carrying out their research in countries such as Thailand, Uganda, Peru, Uruguay, or Malawi. As every project covers a variety of disciplines or specializations, the AgTrain coordinator believes that field work is key for PhD students in order to see reality from the farmers’ point of view. “By understanding the diversity in terms of their ability to take on different activities or embrace development options, he explains, it is possible to appreciate these very different windows of opportunities and, he continues, the only way to get there is by working with the farmers hand in hand in the field.”
In December 2013 and January 2014 AgTraIn PhD students had a joint course with students of another rather similar programme from African countries called “Assessing transformation in smallholder agricultural systems and Natural Resources”. A call for application for new batch of AgTraIn will be opened during the month of June 2014! We invite you to know more about this exciting programme on AgTraIn website.
Click here to read the full article of the “Assessing transformation in smallholder agricultural systems and Natural Resources” joint course.
Picture credit: Thilde Bech Bruun