The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) has launched a new e-learning platform to provide specialized courses in agriculture accredited by the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Certification Service, the UK.
The courses are created with support from donors and partners, including the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD).
It features both advanced courses for professionals and specialists and intermediate ones for students and beginners in land management, crop diversification, genetics, climate change modeling and adaptation.
The courses are self-paced and include presentations, videos, quizzes and reading materials. Students receive certificates upon successful completion of each course.
Dr. Tarifa Alzaabi, Acting Director General of ICBA, said: “As knowledge transfer is integral to ICBA’s mission, we always work to diversify our capacity development offerings and reach a larger number of stakeholders in different countries. This is the reason why we are now focusing on e-learning as a means to achieve this objective. With a growing interest in online education today, we believe it is important to create e-learning opportunities, especially in such fields as agriculture, food security and environmental sustainability.”
Dr. Charbel Tarraf, Senior Manager - Corporate Services and Development, ICBA, said: “We are committed to developing courses and programs aimed at equipping farmers, students, specialists, researchers and decisionmakers with skills and resources for sustainable agricultural development. And this platform is another step in our continuous efforts to cater to our stakeholders’ needs. It is a result of close collaboration with our partners such as EAD and the FAO e-learning Academy.”
Since its establishment in 1999, ICBA has reached thousands of people from more than 100 countries through its capacity development offerings. The center provides technical training courses, farmer field schools, fellowships and internships. It pays special attention to developing the capacities of young people and women through tailor-made programs like the ICBA Youth Engagement Society (ICBA YES) and the Arab Women Leaders in Agriculture (AWLA). Many educational programs specifically targeting young people are also offered by the Emirates Soil Museum located at ICBA.
To date, the center’s scientists have reached out to and demonstrated some of the best biosaline agriculture practices to over 30,000 farmers and conducted 150 technical training courses for over 3,000 specialists. The center has also hosted more than 200 students and recent graduates as interns from different countries and provided fellowships to around 30 post-doctoral researchers.
With the launch of the e-learning platform, the center aims to increase the reach and impact of its capacity development offerings and help various stakeholders, especially youth and women, to acquire necessary skills, resources and tools for sustainable agricultural development, agricultural research and innovation, as well as contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Currently available free of charge, the courses cover such subjects as water resources and irrigation management systems in arid regions; integrated land management in the UAE; and designing a nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food system. The platform will be regularly updated with new courses on different topics.