How universities can help face agricultural sustainability challenges?

By Prof. Tzong-Ru Lee and Ms. Magdalee Brunache

The agricultural sustainability challenges facing farming today are numerous and multifaceted. They demand innovative and integrated solutions. Neither farmers nor governments can single-handedly solve these problems. The responsibilities must be shared with all institutions, businesses and individuals.

However, if there is type of institutions that should be prominent in the designing of effective responses against the agricultural sustainability challenges, it is indeed universities. We will explain what their responsibilities are and how they can help in subsequent paragraphs.

Universities by interacting with a vast array of stakeholders ranging from students and local community to government and businesses, have to take on social responsibilities. At all times, universities have been decisive in shaping public debates and in contributing to the development and improvement of societies. Because they are sanctuaries of learning and research, universities can effectively educate future professionals that will be aware and ready to take on the challenge of moving toward agricultural sustainability.

The first way in which universities can achieve this goal is by making environmental awareness a key component of their curriculum. Students must learn about the global food security issues, climate change and the extent of the environmental degradation affecting farmlands and farming in general.

Young people bringing their energy and vitality into farming would better promote the innovation and modernization that would ensure agricultural sustainability in the future. Universities can help to make agriculture appealing to young people as a potential career by giving them the capabilities and opportunities to engage with this sector.

Lastly, universities as hubs of research are at the forefront of the game-changing discoveries and innovation that will make agriculture more sustainable.  In the fields of #bioeconomics, artificial intelligence, or IoT, to name a few, the possibilities for university to engage in research that will shape the outlook of sustainable agriculture are immense and gratifying.

Developing a climate resilient agriculture is the biggest challenge for education now. We need universities to help us redefine the concept of sustainability and design better ways to ensure food security for future generations.

> Source: The article was written by TZONG-RU Lee, the Vice-Chairman of International Association for Agricultural Sustainability (IAAS) and Magdalee Brunache to propose ways for universities to support the efforts toward agricultural sustainability.