Agriculture is a crucial sector that plays a vital role in the socio-economic fabric of India. However, it is also the sector that demands utmost attention in terms of human resource development and capacity building. A few leading institutions have come together to address this challenge by launching a series of Massive Open Online Courses called agMOOCs.
agMOOCs is an online platform that provides free access to numerous high-quality basic as well as advanced courses in the agriculture domain. The courses are offered by renowned faculty from the premier institutes of the country. The main beneficiaries of these courses will be students and faculty in State Agriculture Universities who are interested in continuing professional development, subject matter specialists in extension services, researchers who wish to explore additional topics of interest, professionals in the rural development sector and professionals in private sector organizations serving farmers.
Professor Asha Kanwar, President and CEO of COL, says, “As many Commonwealth governments wish to scale up skills training at speed, agMOOCs will provide opportunities to many local communities to acquire the relevant knowledge and skills in the agriculture sector.”
First Phase (March 2015 - May 2015)
In the first phase, a course on the basics of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT Basics) was offered by Dr. T.V. Prabhakar, Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Kanpur. It saw a huge participation from across the globe with students and professionals from around 47 countries participating in it. The course covered the fundamentals of ICTs, their functionality, and their limitations.
Second Phase (January 2016 – March 2016)
In the second phase, a set of five courses is about to be launched from January 11, 2016. The courses offered include Integrated Pest Management; Nutrition, Therapeutics and Health; GIS in Ag – Essentials and Applications; Weather Forecast in Agriculture and Agro-advisory; and Basic Crop Production Practices. The latter will be offered only in the Hindi language.
Third Phase (January 2017 – March 2017)
In the third phase, three courses were offered, starting from January 18, 2017. The courses were Basics of Entrepreneurship Development in Agriculture, Agricultural Value Chain Management and Integrated Pest Management (rerun).