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Academic Year 2011-2012

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The Advanced Specialised Course in "Sustainable Agriculture" (SA), taking into consideration the current international development trends, is designed to promote sustainable agriculture and rural development for poverty alleviation.

It is a programme financed by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy, which is now at its 9th edition.


The course aims to train operators for the promotion of rural processes based on:
  • Conservative agriculture and natural resource management;
  •  Multi-stakeholder dialogue and people’s participation;
  • Territorial systems and small producers’ livelihoods.

Participants will strengthen their capacities in order to:
  • Understand policies and institutions for SA, with emphasis on research and extension services;
  • Promote community participation in natural resource management, agricultural technology development and dissemination;
  • Facilitate networking mechanisms for smallholders market access;
  • Use tools for rapid and participatory rural appraisal.

November '11 – June '12

The course is 8-month long and it includes three phases:
  1. Preparatory phase at MAIB (3 months);
  2. Action learning phase in home countries (3.5 months);
  3. Follow-up phase at MAIB (1.5 months).

The course is addressed to individuals with working experience in research, extension, education, development projects, etc.
Priority is given to professionals from governmental and non governmental stakeholders.

Participants are selected by MAIB and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy, and they are awarded full scholarships.
Applications from candidates from Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries are prioritised.

A number of scholarships are available to candidates from other geographical areas, according to the Italian Cooperation development programmes. Applications should be submitted to the Italian Embassies.

Applications from women are encouraged in order to ensure a gender balanced representation in the course.


A good working knowledge of English is necessary.


A good working knowledge of computer applications and access to the Internet facilities is required.

Course modules

Module A: Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods
External driven policies for agricultural modernization are critically reviewed and matched with new policy approaches that pursue decentralization, stakeholders dialogue, people participation, local community empowerment. Knowledge and information systems relying more on linkages among farmers, local groups and institutions are discussed, presenting experiences on Participatory Research and Extension services, and value chain processes.
Agro-ecosystem and livelihood approaches are proposed to promote people centred development processes, that build and enhance local and people assets.
Students will approach sustainable agriculture as an evolving process that has to be adapted according to the countries and local specificities; contributes to provide secure and equal livelihoods to people; relies on conservative technologies and processes developed with local groups and institutions; requires new forms of external support and policy processes.

Module B: Sustainable natural resource and farm systems management
Problems related to natural resources management in agriculture are presented giving focus on good practices for water, soil and biodiversity conservation and pest/disease control. Technologies and practices that conserve and increase the natural resource base and rationalize the use of external inputs in farming systems are explored. Topics are presented giving emphasis to supportive policy and institutional frameworks.
Participants will learn what is the range of practices and technologies for agricultural processes that allow a better use of the internal resources of an agro-ecosystem; how the existing institutional and policy frameworks are key elements for the use and dissemination of conservative technologies.

Module C: Participatory approaches to socio-economic research in rural areas
An introduction is given on how traditionally socio-economic analysis is interpreted and used by institutions and organizations dealing with agricultural development. Evidence and reasons are presented on the need to build up capacities within institutions and organizations on approaches relying more on people participation and aware of the gender dimension. Main frameworks and tools for rapid and participatory rural assessment will be presented. Practical activities will be organized to provide guide throughout the steps envisaged by the field research activities concerning planning, implementation and reporting.
The module will provide participants with a general knowledge of methodologies and tools for socio-economic research in rural areas; build participants’ conceptual and practical knowledge of participatory approaches principles and tools; specifically enhance participants’ capacity to use rapid participatory methods and tools for data collection and analysis of socio-economic issues in the fieldwork that they will carry out in their home countries during the action learning phase.

Module D: Livelihoods diversification and territorial development
Agriculture development is often seen as synonymous of rural development. The module proposes a perspective on rural development that goes beyond agriculture and looks at livelihood diversification, cross-sectoral linkages, territorial specificities, public-civil-private partnerships, and linkages between urban and rural areas, as a way to ensure secure livelihoods to smallholders and poor people and promote local development processes. Participants will understand and learn about policies, institutions and processes that are behind territorial development approaches.
Contact us at sacourse@iamb.it
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