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Food security, food safety and environmental sustainability are critical challenges for the growing population. Engaging with education is a pathway to new expertise and new solutions.

One answer is Integrated Crop Management (ICM), increasingly required as a standard for agricultural production around the world.

The MAS ICM Course

Held between 2015 and 2020, the Masters of Advanced Studies in Integrated Crop Management (MAS ICM) aimed to address critical agricultural and environmental challenges by creating a unique higher ICM education programme in Switzerland.

The MAS ICM, also offered as a Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS), gave students around the world the opportunity to learn about sound crop management principles and explore solutions that can be incorporated into practice and policy in their home countries.

Launched in collaboration with the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland and the Jura Canton, scientists, teachers, extension officers and policy makers came together in Switzerland to enrich their knowledge about the importance of ICM, supporting its adoption as a long-term strategy to address global challenges. It was the first post-graduate degree to be offered in the Jura region and commenced with its inaugural class in March 2015.

Programme description

The interdisciplinary programme provided knowledge on ICM as a sustainable agricultural production system that improves overall crop health.

ICM involves managing crops to optimize yield and profitably with minimal negative impact on the environment. It considers the local soil and climate conditions and safeguards the farm’s natural assets.

The MAS ICM study programme also addressed the wider implications of ICM, particularly the socio-economic and ecological aspects, which form the backdrop of this holistic agricultural production system. General topics covered included: soil management, seed selection, crop nutrition, cropping strategies, pest and landscape management, water management, statistics, national and regional agricultural policies and rural economics.

The students

Sixty-six students from over 22 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America have graduated from the MAS ICM Course since its beginning. Students came from a wide variety of fields, including extension, biology, agriculture, research, teaching and policy.

Students enhanced their technical skills and scientific background in ICM and developed a broad and integrated vision of agricultural food production and environmental sustainability. On completion, students found that they were well-positioned to work in public and private sectors dealing with sustainable agriculture, such as governmental offices, research institutions, universities, advisory services, non-governmental organizations and private companies.

The programme was targeted towards professionals and specialists from crop or environmental management who held a Master’s degree, or a Bachelor’s, plus the equivalent practical experience. They were also from developing countries.

Shoba Marimuthu – a participant in the 2020 Masters in Advanced Studies in Integrated Crop Management course – shares her experience

To view more 2020 MAS ICM participant videos, click here

Programme structure

Taught in English, the study programme consisted of 13 thematic modules, a workshop on the future of agriculture and a final case study session on building an ICM strategy. Modules included research demonstrations, field visits and study tours to partner organizations. The programme was led by ICM experts from CABI and the University of Neuchâtel and featured interdisciplinary guest lecturers. Students were also required to write a thesis.

Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Integrated Crop Management (ICM)

The MAS ICM Course is now closed with the final students graduating in 2020. A CABI Study Brief has since highlighted the many benefits of the course.

In order to continue addressing today’s agriculture and environmental challenges, a new, online programme was created and launched in 2022.

Based on the MAS ICM Course content, the CAS ICM programme offers three fully online programmes in Sustainable Production Practices, Aspects of Implementation and Biological Control and Ecosystem Services. Together, they can be combined to create a Diploma in Advanced Studies (DAS).

These advanced education programmes were jointly developed and are being run by CABI and the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland.

To find out more about the CAS ICM, registration and other criteria, please visit the dedicated web pages here.

The MAS ICM Annual Review

The 2020 MAS in ICM Annual Review looks back at the fifth year of the course, with encouraging case studies from past students who have started applying their knowledge to address agricultural issues in their countries.