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Total number of years 2

Months one through four in year 1

1. Training Course (Residential):

An intensive 4-month residential training programme at the International Academy of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAAS) conducted using training manuals, audio-visual aids and visits to farms to experience real problems.

Training materials:

(available in English and Chinese on CD-ROM and printed copies)

  • Tropical Animal Feeding: A Manual for Research Workers
  • Small-scale Dairy Farming Manual
  • Selected FAO reviews and technical articles
  • Computers
  • Audio-visual aids

Months one through five in year 1

2. Farm experience (residential)

During this period as well as the following month students will spend time to experience the day to day life of various farmers and will independently identify the problem they choose to work in the given village with a given farmer at the end of the fifth month.

Moth six in year 1

3. Refresher course (residential)

Following this a one-month residential refresher course in IAAAS, for analysis of interim results of the research project and acquisition of relevant literature.

Moth six through twelve in Year 1 and month one through eight in year 2

4. Research (Residential)

Eighteen months of research at the student’s work place (e.g.: private farm, farmers’ association, NGO, university, research centre) on a project closely associated with some aspect of sustainable agriculture, with guidance and support by regular E-mail contact with advisors and supervision by frequent visits by facilitators.

Month nine through twelve in year 2

5. Thesis writing submission and publication

Three months of analysis of project findings and preparation of scientific papers for publication and for evaluation by independent referees.

Six months Residential Course:
  • Students live in "farm training" modules on the campuses of the IAAAS will be located in the northern provinces of China such as in Hebei and southern provinces such as in Sichuan. The first farm training centre is established in the Fungning county of Hebei province. The training modules are dedicated to the demonstration of the principle features of sustainable use of natural resources, such as low input agriculture, promotion of biodiversity, optimising biomass production, close integration of cropping systems with forestry and livestock, use of renewable energy and recycling of all biological wastes. A major activity is the preparation, execution, analysis and presentation of the results of mini-projects carried out in the training module and at village level. Each module has access to E-mail facilities and to an "electronic library". Every student is equipped with a computer,  printer and modem. Students are encouraged to use e-mail to communicate with their facilitators and with researchers in other countries and use information from the "electronic library".

    At the end of the 6-month course each participant should be familiar with:


  • The biological basis of plant and animal production underlying sustainable use of natural resources
  • Technologies for on-farm generation of energy from renewable resources
  • Technology development methodologies through participatory rural appraisal
  • Farming systems research methodology including appropriate methods of statistical analysis
  • The principal farming systems in the province
  • Interventions to the existing farming systems that promote more sustainable use of natural resources
  • Use of microcomputers for recording, analysis and presentation of research data and for retrieval, storage and distribution of knowledge
    (e-mail, on-line conference journals and databases)

    Students must independently identify the problems on the field and provide solutions and help to the farmers.  This will lead to the more sustainable use of natural resources in small-scale integrated farming systems.

Course participants will work in teams of 3-4 to plan, execute, analyse and present the results of a mini-project during the 4 months of the course. The objective is to train the participants in using the tools needed for carrying out research and development activities that are relevant to the interests of small-scale farmers in the tropics.

Selected areas of studies may be:

  • Propagation, cultivation and harvesting of multi-purpose trees
  • Effects of cropping systems on soil fertility
  • Improving the performance and sustainability of low-cost biodigesters
  • Use of effluent from biodigesters for vegetable, fruit, water plants and fish production
  • Growth and milk production with dual purpose goats
  • Digestibility and growth studies with indigenous pigs
  • Rural poultry production
  • Housing and nutrition studies with rabbits
  • Work, nutrition and management interactions with cattle
  • Farm based silage making
  • Usage of single cell protein
  • Renewable energy
  • Earthworm production

Research projects

The research project consists of the testing of a hypothesis derived from an analysis of the problems (identified with the participation of farmers) associated with the more efficient use of locally available resources in integrated farming systems and in an economical perspective.

Identification and execution

The first steps in the identification of the research project are made during the residential course. They establish contacts in the field with private farmers, associations, NGOs, development projects, for identifying the problems to be solved. After the residential course, the students return to their work place to execute their research project. They will immediately be visited by one of the facilitators who will assist them in designing and monitoring their proposed experiment or project. They will also help to identify resource persons (advisers) accessible by e-mail who can provide literature and guidance.


The role of the facilitators

The facilitators are responsible for face-to-face contact with the students in their working place, providing advice on the conduct of the research projects, analysis of the data, and communication with participants and external advisers. Each participant will be visited at least three times during the period of the research


There will be a process of continuous assessment by the course directors and co-ordinators, and by visiting resource persons and the local demonstrators. The assessment will be made on a scale of 1 to 5. Participants must reach an average score of 3 or above to be accepted to continue for the MSc.

Assessments will be made of the following:

  • Capacity to prepare projects
  • Skills in practical on-farm work
  • Ability to gather, analyse and use information
  • Ability to prepare and present seminars
  • Capacity to communicate with farmers
  • Scientific and technical content of seminars
  • Capacity to work in a team
  • Ecological awareness
  • Progress in computer literacy

The evaluation will be made according to three elements:

Written articles, scientific papers or dissertation based on the research
project (evaluated by international scientists )
Oral defence of the written output
The actual or potential technical and/or socio-economic impact of the
project at farm and village level

Title of the Qualification

The title of the qualification will be:

Master of Science in "Sustainable Agriculture and Animal Science"

This degree will be conferred by the the Chinese Academy of Agriculture


The course is held yearly and priority is given to students from developing countries in any part of the world. Participants from other countries will be accepted.

The requirements are the following:

BSc degree in natural or social sciences