Investing in young agricultural scientists can help countries achieve higher productivity and food security for generations to come. Equipping them with relevant skills and knowledge now will strengthen national research institutes over the long term – helping these institutions to overcome challenges and tackle the multiple threats posed by climate change.
Targeting young researchers through capacity strengthening opportunities is a priority of the ‘Enhancing Food Security in Arab Countries’ initiative. Its ‘Young Agricultural Scientist Program (YASP)’ provides mentoring and training in the following thematic areas: plant breeding, bio-technology, plant protection, agronomy, irrigation, water and soil management, plant nutrition, conservation agriculture, cereal quality and seed technology, agricultural economics and socio-economics.
Where possible, the program has attempted to fill critical capacity gaps that exist in national agricultural research systems, particularly those related to wheat-based production systems. During the initiative’s first phase, some 34 young scientists from ten countries participated in the YASP program, benefiting from on-going mentoring by experienced ICARDA researchers well-versed in a wide range of relevant research themes.
They were also given the opportunity to exchange knowledge with other researchers and advanced research institutions from across the Arab World; they were exposed to novel research methodologies; and were encouraged to train their colleagues in the latest approaches and technologies to enhance agricultural production, strengthen food security, and alleviate poverty.