6 March 2015 – To mark the commencement of the CABI-coordinated Masters in Advanced Studies in Integrated Crop Management (MAS in ICM) programme, incoming students, lecturers, partners and press gathered at the HĂ´tel du Parlement in DelĂ©mont for ceremony and celebrations. Among the hosts on hand to officially welcome the Class of 2015 was Dr Ulrich Kuhlmann, CABI Regional Director, Europe and the Americas, and coordinator of the MAS in ICM.

“The programme launching today shows us that there are no borders to knowledge and information sharing on sustainable agriculture, only new opportunities.“ CABI’s Chief Financial Officer Ian Barry echoed this sentiment, adding that “this is an exciting moment for CABI in that we are unlocking the expertise of our years of scientific research and training in sustainable agriculture in order to address global issues like food security.”

From 10 countries around the world, agricultural professionals arrived at the start of March 2015 to continue to advance their knowledge and experience with ICM. Over the next nine months in Switzerland, this unique higher education programme will deliver science-based knowledge to help solve todayÂ’s critical environmental and agricultural challenges.

“You cannot launch this programme alone,” commented Kuhlmann. “You must tap into the expertise and support of our fellow institutions in Switzerland to make this possible and address such as important issue.”

Key collaborating partners present at the MAS launch included host institution University of Neuchatel and Canton Jura where CABI Switzerland has been based for over 50 years.

“It is a pleasure to work with such passionate people,” said Elisabeth Baume-Schneider, Minister for Education, Sports and Culture for the Canton Jura. “It is important to recognize the importance of the work of CABI and regional partners in the field of scientific discovery and to see the first students – engaged and passionate.”

University of Neuchatel partners shared in officially opening the programme, after supporting the development from inception talks over four years ago. “Programmes like this are so poignant -socially, economically and environmentally. We are pleased to be part of this and see the doors open,” Jean Jacques Albert, Vice Rector of the University of Neuchatel.

“The time is now for such a programme,” added Professor Ted Turlings of University of Neuchatel. He pointed out to the audience that as the global population rises to nine billion by 2050, it is critical to find answers for sustainable, responsible food production which feed more with less.

On this basis, scholarship partner Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation has supported students to learn and live in Switzerland through this programme, particularly students from developing regions where the CABI-led Plantwise programme operates.

“We are at an important stage as a country of discussing food security as a likely focus, but this programme is about bringing the global and the local together. These students represent agents of change in their countries and we wish them and this innovative programme luck and support,” said Peter Bieler, Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation.

By bringing young agricultural professionals from around the world to Switzerland to learn and participate, this programme aims to not only to enrich their careers with new practices and techniques, but also foster a network of exchange, which can continue to grow between Swiss institutions and the studentsÂ’ home countries. The ultimate goal is to improve lives for the many of farmers, who will benefit from knowledge on sustainable agriculture gained from the MAS studentÂ’s time in Switzerland.

“Thank you for welcoming me and my fellow MAS in ICM students here to Switzerland and Canton Jura to participate in this unique educational opportunity,” said plant protection officer Martin Busobozi, MAS in ICM student and plant doctor back home in Eastern Rwanda. “I hope with the knowledge that I gain here, I will be in a better position to impact many farmers’ lives through improved yields back in Rwanda.”

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