An innovative contract that Auburn University College of Agriculture Dean Paul Patterson and J. Scott Angle, president and CEO of the International Fertilizer Development Center, or IFDC, signed Aug. 31 in Auburn paves the way for agricultural professionals in 100-plus developing countries to enroll in non-academic workshops and training courses from Auburn through distance education.
Patterson said the memorandum of agreement with IFDC is the first of its kind for the university.
“This collaboration is a win-win partnership for the college and for IFDC,” he said. “The benefits both sides will reap are substantial.”
Established in 1974, the Muscle Shoals–based IFDC works to increase farm productivity and food security worldwide by developing effective, sustainable soil fertility and fertilizer technologies and transferring that knowledge, along with agricultural marketing expertise, to farmers in emerging nations.
Ultimately, the aim is to equip farmers with the knowledge and tools that will help them boost their yields, generate income and economic growth and practice environmental stewardship. Currently, however, some two-thirds of the professionals who want to attend IFDC training programs can’t afford to do so.
The Auburn agriculture–IFDC pact will allow the center to offer these vital soil-nutrient training programs online at a fraction of the cost students would have to pay to travel to and attend an IFDC training event, Angle said.
“One of IFDC’s goals continues to be to infuse new ideas, via science and engineering, into the fertilizer industry,” Angle said. “Auburn University and IFDC have decided to expand collaboration in the broad area of soil fertility to assure that farmers, whether in Alabama or remote areas of Africa, have the best technologies and knowledge available to maximize yields.”
For the College of Agriculture, Patterson said, the collaboration will generate revenue through the modest fees trainees will pay, present opportunities to repackage existing courses that could strengthen the revenue stream and spread the College of Agriculture brand worldwide.
“The agreement is exciting, too, because the connection between the college and the IFDC sets the stage for future collaborations in research and teaching,” Patterson said.