In addition to scientific investigations and the formation of new generations responsible for feeding the world from their production units, Zamorano contributes to food security for the population. Across more than seven decades, the university has graduated 8,900 professionals who promote rural and agricultural development.
Every September 9th, Agriculture World Day is celebrated to recognize the men and women who make their livelihoods through agricultural production supplying food to world´s populations. Conscious about agriculture´s value as a pillar of humanity, at Zamorano we seek to face the challenges of the business world, challenges that stem from population growth, generational change, the efficient use of natural resources, climate change, migration to cities, as well as the loss of food and food waste among others factors.
As per the Agricultural Prospect Report 2019-2028 of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCDE), agricultural production in the region will continue to grow, and by 2028 Latin America and the Caribbean will be responsible for more than 25% of agricultural and fishery exports globally.
Recognizing these trends, Zamorano, as a university that instills a conscientiousness in its students to engage in responsible agricultural production, offers high quality education and excellence. The university trains professional leaders who offer solutions to face challenges for the benefit of the agricultural development of their countries. Similarly, Zamorano focuses its scientific research on a variety of disciplines including botany, integrated pest management, and sustainable agriculture, all with a balanced approach to production with respect for the environment.
According to Dr. Renan Pineda, Zamorano´s faculty member, during the last 30 years there has a growing awareness among farmers regarding the importance of production using sustainable agricultural concepts. This means respecting natural conditions in the environment where food is produced, thereby reaching an ecological balance point in which production is friendly with development and there is little to no upset to environmental resources.
“The rupture of the environment and of the ecological cycles is what is causing great disturbances in the world´s climate. We know the impact climate change has not only on ecological cycles, but also on agriculture directly. Climate change is the driver behind the droughts and floods we now contend with and which had been nowhere near as frequent nor as severe before” he added.
Facing these challenges to the region´s future and looking towards more sustainable and inclusive agricultural practices, Zamorano has increased its academic offerings with the introduction of the Sustainable Tropical Agriculture Master´s Program (MATS). This first-ever Zamorano master’s degree program graduated its first group of professionals equipped to face complicated agricultural and environmental challenges using tools of analysis and production system designs with a holistic, sustainable and regenerative focus.
Importance of Agriculture facing COVID-19
As a fundamental development source, agriculture will continue to be essential for human beings’ survival. The importance of agriculture as a staple to a thriving society has been heightened by the conditions presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic crisis has drawn attention to the importance of agriculture as a core provider of the world’s food supply, and the importance of uninterrupted agricultural production in all countries in order for them to continue to be able to feed their peoples.
For Dr. Pineda, “Agriculture provides an important source of employment. During this pandemic, farmers and food producers have been essential workers whose workspaces – largely outdoor fields – have been low risk sites for contamination, due to the outdoors being spaces of far lower contamination risk. It is important to note that governments did not interrupt agricultural activities and this allowed people to continue acquiring food”, he added.
In these pandemic times, it is important that governments redefine objectives for well-integrated agricultural development that converge around concepts of soil improvement, environmental conservation and natural resources protection.