Building Organic Agriculture in Armenia; Improving the knowledge and skills of organic stakeholders through participatory curriculum development and outreach| BOAA
Project coordinator: Bernhard Freyer
Coordinating institution: University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
Partner institution: Armenian National Agricultural University (Astghik Sahakyan)
Partner Country: Armenia
Project duration: 1st of March 2017 - 29th of February 2020
BOAA has been created to help deliver the need for an increase in organic agriculture professionals skilled for research and practice in the Armenian context. The Armenian government in collaboration with EU and the ADC has recently launched support for increasing organic agriculture to mitigate marginalized people in impoverished areas, better handle small farm sizes within the country and ensure the conservation of Armenian water, soil and biodiversity. There have been projects and support for awareness and implementation of organic agriculture in the country, however with this recent organic support comes a demand for trained and skilled Armenian organic practitioners in research as well as in practice. To fulfill this need BOAA has been designed as a transdisciplinary project developing and implementing an Armenian Organic Masters Program (OMP) with place-based curriculum through three phases:
- Phase 1 gathers stakeholder data from focus groups and interviews that will be used to inform about current challenges and needs of present and future farmers and organic practitioners.
- Phase 2 entails the development of the organic masters program curriculum and the trainers of the ANAU instructors in organic theory, methods and practice. The development of the curriculum will be done predominantly through the stakeholder steering committee. The training of the instructors will be done in two parts: 1) an Armenian partner team will visit BOKU’s Division of Organic Farming at the Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems as well as attend in-field visits. 2) A BOKU teaching team will visit ANAU to both visit and understand the Armenian agrarian context and help train and develop staff and curriculum.
- Phase 3 entails the finalisation of the OMP and its curriculum, its dissemination and implementation. In addition to a stakeholder committee devoted to the implementation and management of the OMP, project dissemination will occur through social media, newspaper articles, student outreach events and a public television broadcast.
These project phases demonstrate transdisciplinary development of organic agriculture in Armenia through participatory curriculum development. The teaching of organic farming through BOAA will ensure for highly connected and empowered students graduating with improved knowledge and skills in organic farming and practice, ready to enter the workforce.