By Nurul Syuhadah Bt Mohamad Ali
Photo by Noor Azreen Awang
SERDANG, 14 Feb (UPM) – More than 60 agriculture students from 8 Asian countries met here at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) earlier this month where they learnt about agricultural issues, food supply, food security and how to share and collaborate across borders.
These students from Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, India, South Korea, China, Guam and Malaysia had met at the 4th edition of the International Agriculture Students Symposium (IASS) along with five lecturers from 13th to 22nd February.
The 4th IASS was organized by the Agriculture Students Association as well as the Agriculture Faculty of UPM, the Education Ministry, the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry (MAAI) and sponsors like Diversatech Fertilizer and Malaysian Plant Protection Society.
Noting that the theme of the symposium was “Agriculture: Sharing and Collaborating”, Dato’ Mohd Arif bin Ab Rahman, Deputy Secretary-General of MAAI) said it was indeed appropriate since the participants were going to be future leaders , especially in agriculture.
“As future leaders, students need to equip themselves not only with appropriate knowledge but also to be able to discuss and most importantly, communicate the knowledge to their peers in this borderless world,” he said when officiating the symposium.
Stressing that agriculture is the foundation of civilizations, he said it played a vital role in the survival of mankind, while the world today is facing various challenges such as food crisis and a steep increase of fuel price.
But recent advances in crop breeding, biotechnology, bio-fuel research, germplasm management, agronomy and others are also providing agriculture with great opportunities to learn diverse solutions to overcome the challenges in this sector.
He also pointed that efficient farm management and resource efficiency are among the approaches to produce more food for a growing population that is faced with a declining numbers of farmers.
He said while the food supply chain could be made more efficient, they would also have to see how they could reduce food wastage that currently amounted to one-third of the food produced annually.
Deputy Vice Chancellor of UPM (for Academic and International Affairs) Prof Datuk Dr Mad Nasir Shamsudin in his welcoming speech, said food consumption has been growing faster than production itself.
“Today, around the globe, we’re facing various challenges such as food shortage, the increasing fuel price, global warming which is affecting the agriculture-based industries. But we can’t figure out for the new ideas to enhance the agriculture industries,” he said.
As such, he said he hoped that the symposium could generate new and fresh ideas on how to deal with the problem.
The 10-day symposium is for the students and lecturers to collaborate and form an international network among agriculture students around the world, while promoting understanding of agriculture heritage and international culture from the participating countries.
“We hope this symposium will be the platform for participants across the globe to share and understand the culture, history and the agriculture heritage of different countries and region,” said Mr Abdullah Wafi Md Arif, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of IASS. – UPM.
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