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20 May, 2021

Sustainability, inclusion and innovation to face global agri-food challenges: Tanya Müller, Rector of ZAMORANO

Tanya Müller is the first woman to assume the Presidency at ZAMORANO, a university whose main objective is to strengthen international collaboration and global alliances to benefit academia and students, and to promote the development of communities.

Tanya Müller García is also the first Mexican woman ever to graduate from ZAMORANO and recently became the first woman to assume the position as ZAMORANO’s President. “I have always liked academia because I am convinced that education is the pillar for the transformation and development of Latin American countries; It is an honor to hold this position at my alma mater.” she said.

Considering the global challenges the agricultural sector and food systems will be facing in the next 30 years, ZAMORANO is committed to sustainability, resilience, inclusion, innovation and technology in order to reinforce the skills that its graduates will need to overcome the challenges of population growth and climate change.

ZAMORANO works on research topics aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In order to provide solutions at the local and regional level through education, science and technology, ZAMORANO is continuously seeking alliances with the private sector, research centers and foreign universities.

According to President Müller, it is important to understand current and future global contexts. In less than 30 years worldwide population will increase by two billion people. “The need for jobs, housing and food will increase by 70% and already 14% of the world’s food production comes from Latin America. It is essential for ZAMORANO to understand the challenges and how to face food security issues, within a framework of sustainability, resilience and inclusion.”, emphasized President Müller García.

For President Müller García, the impact of climate change on production systems and the necessary modifications coupled with the need for technology as a tool to achieve a more sustainable production must be well understood. From her perspective, ZAMORANO must be at the center of innovation and knowledge generation on these matters.

To achieve this, and to keep the university at the forefront of education in Latin America, ZAMORANO is evaluating what skills new graduates need and how to weave those into the curriculum.

According to President Müller García, ZAMORANO is contributing to the region by focusing on SDGs. Professors and students tackle issues by linking academia and research to address the challenges facing agriculture, with the goal of zero hunger, water management and clean energy, as well as the production and diversification of healthy foods and the redesign of production systems.

For the President, “Research is the starting point to implementing development projects, innovation and new ventures, all for the creation of new jobs. We want our graduates to have those skills and abilities”.

Additionally, she points out that the use of technology is fundamental, especially regarding precision agriculture, which generates data that can be used for making intelligent and informed decisions to increase efficiency in the management of resources in agriculture.

She adds that ZAMORANO’s 80 years of experience and the distance education programs funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation are an important starting point for expanding knowledge in the region. “This hybrid model of virtual and distance education is part of a reality that we live today. It allows us to reach those remote, rural areas for technology transfer that is fundamental.”

Alliances for agricuture and education

ZAMORANO will continue partnering with governments, the private sector, universities and research centers, among others. From her point of view, international collaboration and alliances that benefit professors, students and communities must be strengthened. She commented that, “ZAMORANO has strategic allies in the United States, and will continue to strengthen relationships with other entities in that country to work together on climate change issues through research.”

President Müller García believes that migration has a negative impact on the agricultural sector. Sixty percent of Latin American migrants come from rural areas. ZAMORANO has created opportunities for students who, upon graduation, return to their country of origin, and create innovative companies, thereby creating jobs. Zamorano graduates know the challenges and are aware that solutions lie at the local level, and that these include adaptation to climate change in agriculture.

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Seven out of ten students who study at ZAMORANO receive scholarship support. For the President, it is imperative to support and finance the education of young Latin Americans. “Support to increase the scholarship fund is essential to help lowincome students in times of postCOVID19 recovery. We have students who cannot pay their own tuition, but they are able to achieve academically excellent grades. They are the ones we seek to support,” she stated.

Support to women

ZAMORANO opened its doors to women in the 1980s and will continue to be dedicated to their education so that they actively participate in the strengthening of sustainable systems, development projects and environmental issues.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has specified that women represent a substantial part of the agricultural workforce, particularly in developing countries. It is important that women in the agricultural sector have greater access to gaining credit. Policies for legal land tenure for women need to be improved, “It has been seen that in our region there is inequity and we must empower women; we know that they are catalysts for democratization and opportunities in the countryside,” she said.

International leadership and work mystique

President Müller was the first Mexican woman to graduate from ZAMORANO. She graduated from the Agronomist Program in 1996, and from the Agricultural Engineering Program in 1998. She has a Master´s Degree in International Agriculture Economic Management from the Humboldt University, Germany.

As Minister of Environment of Mexico City, she promoted sustainable urban development and public innovative policies in the Latin American region including the carbon credit, green bonds and nonmotorized mobility programs. She was the founder and vice president of the International Green Infrastructure Network Association, dedicated to the research and dissemination of green roofs and walls.

She was appointed by the UN Secretary General, Ban Kimoon as one of the two Latin American women in the United Nations HighLevel Advisory Group for Sustainable Transport. In the past nine years, she has participated in various international forums as a keynote speaker, sharing her remarkable leadership on global climate change.

Her work ethic is based on team collaboration and integrated work. “One is capable of achieving good results when working as a team in an integral way. At Zamorano we are a very closeknit community that allows us to advance towards our objectives together,” she said.

As President of ZAMORANO, her commitment is to impact the quality of education and the lives of those who will be the future leaders in Latin America. “It is a matter of having a positive scope, transformation, and influencing various areas. We must work towards the fulfillment of the SDGs, zero hunger, inclusion, diversity, access to clean water, and sustainable energy. These are issues that impact quality of life. ZAMORANO innovates and its graduates will continue to transform the region by having the ability to positively influence people”, she declared.

In conclusion, President Müller Garcia shared that education at ZAMORANO is a hybrid scheme because it offers a handson experience on campus and access to technology. Experiencing agriculture firsthand from the production all the way to a final product is unique. With virtual distance education, our reach will be even greater. “It will be a transformation that will take place in the following years, higher education is going towards these hybrid concepts. This is an issue that we must not lose sight of, but the educational experience that ZAMORANO offers, undoubtedly remains.” she concluded.

ZAMORANO is discipline and perseverance!

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