International Agriculture & Rural Development 2012 — a Re-enforcing Platform for Indian and US Students in Experiential Learning
January 4—16, 2013 | India
To provide exposure to experiential learning and build capacity among the students, the Agricultural Innovation Partnership sponsored several students and faculty members from the Indian and US universities to take part in the International Agriculture & Rural Development (IARD) program 2013. The IARD program offered opportunities for students to enhance their knowledge base and learning through global peer interaction as well as helped faculty develop new learning modules for effective experiential learning.

Held from January 4 to 16, 2013, this year the program saw an unprecedented participation from universities in India and US. A total of 75 students and faculty began their sojourn through towns and cities in Maharashtra as they visited rural development initiatives, farms and agri-business firms over a two-week period. The universities that participated in the program included Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi; Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture & Technology, Meerut; Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat; Central Agricultural University, Imphal; Bihar Agricultural University, Sabour; Cornell University, Ithaca; Tuskegee University, Alabama; University of Georgia, Athens and University of California, Davis.

The visiting team had exposure in three thematic areas—Agricultural Systems (AS), Rural Infrastructure (RI) and Value Addition (VA). This not only helped participants gain in depth knowledge, but also get a first hand and direct experience with field visits to research institutes, NGOs, agricultural universities as well as attend lectures on rural development shared by experienced speakers. At the end of the twelve-day India field trip, students submitted a project report. Sharing his view on the program, K. V. Raman, Professor, Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics, CALS, Cornell University, said, “To implement this course we had to overcome many challenges and evolve a quality program that included all the teaching components that would make the course into an academically rich and rewarding experience for all students and faculty involved.”

The initiative has widened the vision of several hundred students over the last several years. The tremendous coordination and knowledge contribution from Cornell and Sathguru had facilitated the initiative over the years with innovative improvements every subsequent year.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York established the International Agriculture & Rural Development program (IARD) program in 1968 with Puerto Rico as its maiden destination. However, from 2003, India became the chosen location for the field study component. Since then Sathguru Management Consultants, in partnership with CALS, has built upon the potential of the program by involving students and faculty from Indian agricultural universities and institutes. The unique initiative thus became a platform for Indian students of agriculture and related sciences learn from an international faculty and share their knowledge with their peers from other nations.

Here’s what some of the students had to say about the visits at the end of the program.

After returning back to the states, I’ve found it difficult to adjust back to normal life. It could be the jet lag, the snow on the ground, or any other variety of factors, but I find myself strangely nostalgic for an opportunity to go back to India. I recently watched the “In the Footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi” video that was given to me at BAIF by Dr. Negde and can’t wait for another opportunity to experience, and hopefully contribute to, the rural development of India through sustainable agriculture.” – Catherine May, Cornell University

 “A non-profit eye institute run by Mahyco Research Foundation. I think the best way to serve people is to help them with their sight. The Project Dekho is absolutely commendable, in which they are picking up the villagers from their home, treating them with the world class facilities and then dropping them back with proper medications. Attending more than 400 patients a day and setting up an ophthalmic camp in every three months is an exceptionally great job.” – Aditi Sharma, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture & Technology

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