FAO ups support for young agro-scientists
Young researchers in poor countries will receive greater support thanks to a new agreement between the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Foundation for Science (IFS).
Following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the United Nations and the Swedish-based IFS, young scientists in developing countries will benefit from grants and technical assistance in the fields of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
|Increased support for young agricultural researchers in poor countries should bear fruit down the line|
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In practical terms, this is likely to involve joint activities – such as workshops, seminars and consultations – fostering information exchange and the sharing of valuable expertise. Better use of technology and data sharing are also high priorities in the joint programme agreed by the two organisations. As, too, is reinforcement of research infrastructure and institutions in developing countries.
Isabel Alvarez, chief of FAO’s research and technology development service, says the agreement establishes a strong basis for more effective collaboration to meet the two organisations’ common goal, which is “to strengthen the research capacity of developing countries”.
Indeed, this sort of international co-operation is a promising template for research collaboration both within the expanding European Union and between the EU and its partners abroad. Research agreements with countries around the Mediterranean and further afield show how important scientific co-operation is to the Union and to successfully implementing its Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) for research.
Brain drain buffer
“The rationale behind the agreement on the part of both organisations is the need to involve the young generation of academics in research for sustainable development,” says Michael Ståhl, director of IFS, which last year provided 238 grants to young researchers in 35 nations. He adds that the secret to success is getting national researchers in developing countries onboard.
Established in 1974, IFS identifies promising young scientists from developing countries and supports them in their early careers. For example, Olanrewaju B. Smith was in his mid-thirties when IFS sponsored his research on how to expand livestock feed. Today, he is working for FAO’s Global Forum on Agricultural Research.
The two organisations also see their efforts as building a buffer against brain drain from developing to developed countries. A grant can make the difference, according to the FAO, because it contributes to sustainable development – of both the economic and scientific base – in poorer countries.
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IFSFAOFAO boosts support for young agricultural researchers (SciDev.net)FP6 (on CORDIS)Research International Co-operation (INCO on CORDIS)