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Enrolment begins for online agriculture courses

Agricultural professionals will now have access to low-cost agricultural education
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In a step to significantly open opportunities for agricultural professionals in India to have access to low-cost, high-quality agricultural education, enrollment is now open for the first of a series of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in agriculture.

The opening of the free online course on “Diseases of Horticultural Crops and their Management” being offered through the National Virtual Academy of Indian Agriculture was announced in Chennai by Dr MS Swaminathan, Father of India's Green Revolution and Emeritus Chair of the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF).

“I am happy to announce the launch of this first ever MOOCs for agricultural professionals – a timely initiative as knowledge revolution is the need of the hour,” said Dr Swaminathan. “The course could significantly push the bar for quality online education to meet the requirements specifically of India’s agricultural education system, where available resources are scarce relative to the extremely large audience – in a country where more than 70 percent of the population is involved in agriculture directly or indirectly,” he added.

This first MOOCs through the National Virtual Academy of Indian Agriculture is an initiative of a team of ICT and agriculture experts and educators from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), with its global headquarters in Hyderabad, and partners together with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay.

“Global educational institutions are increasingly adopting MOOCs and given India’s need for reaching out to largest possible number of learners, MOOCs are seen as the best way forward to ensure quality agricultural education,” said by Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT.

“I am excited about this new opportunity to modernize the way we educate agriculture students, young scientists, extension professionals and farmers to stimulate innovation and motivate them about agriculture as a science and an enterprise,” Dr Bergvinson added.

“There is an increased interest across the globe in recent years to strengthen agriculture education, bringing together all ideas and innovation in agriculture to tackle the problem of feeding the world’s poorest of the poor,” according to Dr Peter Carberry, Deputy Director General - Research, ICRISAT.

“MOOCs is part of an exciting journey to broaden global partnership in offering various high-quality agriculture courses aimed at creating hunger fighters to tackle the zero-hunger challenge for a food-secure future,” added Dr Dileepkumar Guntuku, Global Leader, Knowledge Sharing and Innovation and Director for Center of Excellence in ICT Innovations for Agriculture, ICRISAT.

The course materials for the first MOOCs on “Diseases of Horticultural Crops and their Management” have been methodically planned and prepared by highly experienced team of educators and professors in the field of agriculture who have devoted their time and effort to educate the Indian masses on sustainable agriculture practices. The course starts from 9 February to 6 April 2015.

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