University of Cordoba and IICA promote digital transformation of agriculture in the Americas with master in Digital Agri

San Jose, 3 June 2021 (IICA). The University of Cordoba (Spain) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) presented the Master in Digital Transformation of Agrifood and Forestry, which will train professionals from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to drive the digitalization of agriculture in the region, an essential step in ensuring a more competitive, efficient, inclusive, and sustainable agricultural sector.

The details of the postgraduate degree from the University of Cordoba’s School of Agriculture and Forestry Engineering (ETSIAM), dubbed the Master in Digital Agri, were shared in a Virtual Open Classroom session with more than 80 participants, during which they announced the availability of five spots for LAC students.

The event was run by Rosa Gallardo, director of ETSIAM, and Manuel Otero, Director General of IICA, who emphasized the alliance’s strategic and vital role in fostering critical thinking in young professionals, an important skill in meeting the demands of a smart, innovative agriculture.

“Our master’s program is now open to LAC students, which will surely enrich us all and help us to take joint steps toward digital transformation—a transformation that is already a reality for part of the agricultural sector, but that represents a huge challenge to ensure it reaches everyone, a challenge in which technology is not the end in itself, but rather the means to help farmers make better decisions and improve their reality and quality of life, as well as to help agri-exporters, the agroindustry, and all rural stakeholders”, commented Gallardo.

Otero, in turn, expressed that by placing the “emphasis on new, sustainable, and environmentally responsible agrifood systems, the topics of digital agriculture become even more important”. He reaffirmed the Institute’s commitment to promoting initiatives for that purpose, which necessitates alliances and consortiums as required by IICA’s current strategies of technical cooperation.

“We have an enormous future to build; in some cases, that requires redirection, always moving toward smart agriculture 4.0, where digital agriculture offers enormous opportunities. You can count on IICA; we are interested in alliances that make an impact on improving the quality of life of all those living in the rural areas of our continent, which should be spaces for progress and the generation of wealth. Together we’ll take important steps toward transforming that reality”, assured the head of the hemisphere’s specialized agency in agricultural and rural development.

Training offering of the Master in Digital Agri

The master’s program is comprised of ten modules, providing specialized, quality education on disruptive technologies in a program that includes real-life cases of innovation, digitalization, and technology watch, the Internet of Things, analysis of data and satellite images, sensors for food, soil, water and plants, big data, and blockchain, among other topics.

“Big data, supercomputing, blockchain, etc., are tools that allow us to collect data, transform it efficiently, cleanse it, store it, interpret it, and model it for a specific purpose to contribute solutions to the agricultural sector—that’s what the master’s program is about”, explained Adolfo Peña, master’s program director.

Digital Agri has a duration of seven months. It combines in-person classes on Thursdays and Fridays with blended-learning activities and a month of internships at companies and Rabanales Campus in Cordoba, a 175-hectare farm.

The third edition of the postgraduate degree will begin on November 4th. Enrollment is open from June 14th to July 9th and the cost of enrollment is USD 1,375. Those interested in more information can visit https://digitalagri.es/ or email the university directly at digitalagri@uco.es.

During the Open Classroom session, Nestor Caal, a student from Guatemala, shared his experience in the postgraduate program, which he described as “high-level, demanding, and challenging”. Moreover, he said he discovered new technologies that are highly useful in decision-making and gained knowledge he hopes to apply and transfer to his home country in order to “collaborate in the process of agricultural transformation in the region”.

Finally, some of the technologies used in the master’s program were simulated in a live, hands-on session, including a number of data sensors, a drone, and a variable rate seed-cum-fertilizer drill. 

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