April 30, 2015

Free online course earns students’ praise

The first Yara-sponsored free online course was a great success, attracting more than 3,000 students from 56 countries. The course, offered by the University of Western Australia (UWA), focused on the economics of agriculture, natural resources and the environment.
Three people in a field
Three people in a field

Agriculture is the world's largest industry, employing more than one billion people worldwide. In order to feed a global population of 9 billion people by 2050, the agricultural industry must nearly double its output in an environmentally sustainable way.

The Massive Open Online Course, entitled “Agriculture, Economics and Nature”, addressed this great challenge. Participants, ranging from farmers to government officers, gained a better understanding of the key economic principles that underpin agricultural development, helping them to make better decisions about agricultural management, input levels and resource conservation. The course ran for six weeks, starting Feb. 2.

“Enthusiasm for the course has been very high,” says Professor David Pannell, who presented the course via online tutorials, which included 8 to 11 brief videos per week. “We will modify the course slightly and offer it again later in 2015,” he adds. 

Professor Pannell is one of Australia's leading agricultural economists and heads the School of Agriculture and Resource Economics at UWA, which is ranked among the top 25 universities internationally for life and agricultural sciences.

“We are delighted that the online course, which Yara developed together with UWA, attracted such a great following,” says Mark Loquan, chief executive officer at Yara Pilbara, Australia. “Although our operations are upstream and based in the north west of Australia, the course reflects Yara’s philosophy of enhancing agricultural business performance in an environmentally sustainable way and by partnering with UWA we have been able to create impact through learning on a global scale.”

Stay tuned and follow Yara’s Social Media channels for information about the next enrollment later this year!

Meet some of the participants and hear their feedback

Jeanette Denham (34), Australia, workplace trainer

Jeannette’s family owns a farm. As her parents move closer to retirement, Jeannette is preparing to take over the family farm.

Here is some of Jeanette’s feedback: “The course was very interesting, easily accessible and had good, targeted questions.” “It was interesting to look at the economic angles and gaining an understanding of the profit curve and its impact on farming decisions.” “I can more knowledgably engage with my parents about the farming process. I now have a better understanding of the reasons for some of the current policies.”

Dinh Thi Phuong (32), Vietnam, community development officer

Dinh Thi is working in the rural development sector and participated in the course to broaden her knowledge about agriculture.

Here is some of Dinh Thi’s feedback: “I gained a new insight into the agricultural conservation and the adoption of agricultural practices.” “I am very interested in learning about the economics of agricultural inputs and the importance of time in calculating benefits of agricultural conservation and environmental projects.” “I will apply the economic tools and perspectives I learnt from the course to conduct research that evaluates the performance of climate-smart agriculture projects in Vietnam.”

Gideon Mukonyezi (22) Uganda, student

Gideon participated in the course to learn more about agricultural economics and the market for agricultural products.

Here is some of Gideon’s feedback: “I learned how demand and supply determine prices in the market for agricultural products.” “I will recommend this course to others because it is a great eye opener for agricultural economists.” “I am grateful to the University of Western Australia, Professor David Pannell and the entire crew for making this possible.”

Check out the list of countries of participants (from most to least number of participants)

Australia, Vietnam, United States, Kenya, Israel, Canada, India, Nigeria, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Brazil, Germany, China, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, St. Lucia, Philippines, New Zealand, Sudan, Jordan, Algeria, Benin, Unknown Region, Greece, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Ghana, Venezuela, Colombia, Netherlands, South Africa, Georgia, Mexico, Bolivia, Bangladesh, Spain, Armenia, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Brunei, Slovenia, Thailand, Hungary, Sweden, Japan, Singapore, Zambia, Norway, Italy, Guatemala, Oman, Ireland, Tanzania, Nepal, Belgium, Zimbabwe.