The main objective of the project is to create a sustainable network of EU and Russian Agrarian Universities in the field of Agricultural Extension to promote development of Russian Agriculture and contribute to the changing of Agricultural Policy in RF.
In the framework of this Multiplier Project the partners suppose to review, up-grade and disseminate previously developed study materials and teaching methods to the key Russian Agrarian universities in all main geographical zones of RF. The joint project activities of the Consortium will lead to the introduction of several courses and training programmes for Agricultural Extension in Russian Agrarian universities as well as to the establishment of special Departments and the organisation of a sustainable academic network of the universities.
The following specific objectives have been defined:
The introduction of new courses and training programmes will provide quite a new opportunity to the students to gain new knowledge and skills in Agricultural Extension and will also prepare them for the career of consultants and advisors. The courses and programmes are supposed to be introduced in all the partner universities during the second project year.
The achievement of the project outcomes will be supported by appropriate activities. The first step of the project implementation will be directed to studying “The State Educational Standard” as well as current curricula for the training programmes in MTAA and EU-partner institutions, adjusting the courses content to the Standard and EU-universities’ requirements. For these purposes consultations with the Russian Ministry of Education and study visits of the Russian professors to EU partner universities and teaching workshops in Russian universities will be organised.
During the younger teaching staff visits to EU-universities and the training seminars for younger teachers provided by both MTAA and EU professors, the younger teachers will study new teaching approaches and develop new study materials (including those for distance learning). The MTAA and EU professors will be seconded to the regional Agrarian universities in RF for teaching assignments during the 2-week training seminars for intensive lecturing and consulting in study materials development. The training seminars will be conducted once a project year in one of the Russian universities and will provide the younger teachers with the theoretical and practical knowledge and skills in Agricultural Extension and teaching methodology. In between the seminars the younger teachers will continue their training by using specially developed Distance learning system. The younger teachers are supposed to develop and introduce their own courses and study materials adapted to the regional conditions under the supervision of the EU, MTAA and their home universities professors responsible for the project execution.
Modern necessary equipment for distance learning as well as special literature and distance learning software will be purchased. Existing equipment will be upgraded and modernised. A special web-site will be developed and introduced for the distance learning and dissemination purposes. The new course and all the developed teaching materials will be published or printed and disseminated to the key Russian universities.
Structural transformation in the economic sector of Russia has created a need for fundamental changes in the area of agricultural knowledge systems development. Russian farmers turned out into information vacuum. They do not have appropriate opportunities to improve their knowledge in new technologies, management, marketing, agricultural policy, etc. Many international, federal and local programmes are directed to the introduction of new organisational structures and institutions for these purposes. But just a few of them provide agricultural producers with new knowledge and tools of high quality to apply them in their current activity.
Creation of the Agricultural Extension Service in Russia began in 1995. It was the integral part of the agro-food complex reform aimed on market mechanism development in the agricultural sector. Since then Extension Service bodies have been established in 65 regions out of 85 regions of the Russian Federation, which are involved in primary agricultural production. At the moment about 1500 consultants are working in the Extension Services of all levels (federal, regional and local), they are supposed to provide substantial assistance in assimilation of innovations to agricultural producers in public and private sector. In 2001 regional and local Extension Services provided over 250 thousand consultations on production and agribusiness issues. Over 15 thousand producers have participated in specialized seminars organized by Extension Service bodies. The quantity of requests has been increasing every year.
During 1996 to 2000, 27 Regional Extension bodies have trained their stuff members under the Agricultural Reform Implementation Support (ARIS) World Bank project. Several other bodies have trained stuff members under the Technical Assistance for CIS countries (TACIS) and British Know-How Fund projects.
However the quality of the consulting services is inadequate. Most of the extensionists are holding an university degree in agriculture and related science, at the same time they are not skilled in extension knowledge and methodology. Level of the study materials, performance of training seminars and field days in most regional bodies remain low. Moreover till 1999 none out of 58 Russian Agrarian Universities provided courses and training programmes in Agricultural Extension.
Since the extension services in Russia were well spread and developed more and more, qualified and skilled consultants and advisors are required. The Ministry of Agriculture of the RF calculates an additional mid term minimum demand for extension specialists of about 4500 persons. An annual number of about 250 - 300 graduates in agricultural extension would be necessary to meet this demand.
Realising these needs the Consortium members of the Tempus JEP-10738-99 (University of Hohenheim, Wageningen University and Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy) in 1999 established in MTAA a Department of Agricultural Extension and developed and introduced an MSc-programme in Agricultural Extension.
Although the number of students enrolling in the MSc-programme in Agricultural Extension at MTAA is increasing every year (40 students in 2002), it is obvious that in order to meet the nationwide demand for extension specialists such programmes will have to be introduced in other Agricultural Universities in different regions in the RF as well. Therefore, it clearly appeared that in order to create a sustainable training system for Russian Agricultural Extension Service, a network of the key Russian Agrarian Universities spread geographically should be established.
All the involved universities have been co-operating in different projects before. They have signed joint agreements on mutual long-term collaboration in many fields of education and research. They have strong experience in implementing related to the subject international projects: T-JEP 10014-95, JEP 10738-99, CP 20501-99, CD-JEP 21111-2000, WB ARIS project, Regional Academic Partnership (REAP) DFID project - MOS/395/41/0047. In the framework of these projects the courses, MSc and other training programmes on Agricultural Extension were introduced in MTAA, a number of study materials (including written textbooks, new curricula and other outputs) were developed and disseminated to the key Russian agrarian universities. The success of this project is reflected not only in the positive resonance which the introduced outputs evoke in many representatives of numerous agricultural universities in RF, but it is also reflected in particular in the strong interest that applicants show in the programme.
The central conclusion from the experiences made in the previous projects is that, networking of the EU and key Russian Agrarian universities will strengthen their collaboration and make a significant contribution to the agricultural sector of the national economy. Therefore, the execution of the project represents a consequent continuation of previous project activities. In this way, not only substantial improvements of university education in the field of Agricultural Extension would be achieved, but also a further convergence of the Russian education system towards the Western European conditions. However, this task can not be fulfilled without support from the Western European universities.
The University of Hohenheim, represented by Prof. Dr. J. Zeddies, Head of the Department of Farm Management is the contractor of the MP and is responsible for all financial relations to the European Commission and the European Training Foundation, for the elaboration of the annual reports and other documents together with the co-ordinating institution.
Wageningen University, represented by Prof. Dr. R. Huirne, Head of the Department of Economics and Management, is responsible for the training programme of Russian professors and younger teachers in NL, for the organisation of the training visits of RF teaching staff to Wageningen.
The two Western European partner universities complement and collaborate in an excellent way. Both the University of Wageningen and the University of Hohenheim have long term experience in introducing new courses on Agricultural Extension, MSc and other training programmes in different Eastern European and Russian universities. Both Wageningen University and the University of Hohenheim provide information on the structure and content of their study programmes in Agricultural Extension and are responsible for curriculum and course development as well as for teaching assignments of the EU professors to RF.
Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy (MTAA), represented by Dr. Valery Koshelev, Vice-rector of MTAA, is the co-ordinator of the project and is responsible for all administrative relations to the European Commission and the European Training Foundation, for the elaboration of the annual reports and other documents together with the contractor as well as for the continuous communication with consortium members. MTAA is also responsible jointly with contact persons from other Russian universities for the selection and preparation of the staff members for the mobility to EU and the organisation of the intensive courses taught by Western professors in RF. In collaboration with the project contractor MTAA is also responsible for purchase of equipment, publishing of teaching materials, quality control and monitoring of the project.
Specific Project Objective/s:
Participating EU Universities:
Partner Country Universities involved: