Teaching and training in epidemiology

Farmer training day in Uganda, 2013
Farmer training day in Uganda, 2013

The contributors to 1680kcal believe that the skills of plant disease epidemiology will be important in the struggle to maintain food security as the global human population continues to grow [but, then again, we would think that wouldn’t we?].  As plant diseases continue to exert both chronic and acute damage to crop production, globally, and in an era where there has been a large scale reduction in publicly-funded extension across the developing world, there is a clear need for effort to be made in training the next generation of epidemiologists.  With fewer extension agents in the field, farmers themselves need basic skills in epidemiology and IPM. The long history of successful farmer field schools across Asia suggests that on-going commitment to that type of effort will reap substantial benefits.  A recent example is the work by colleagues from Oregon State University in raising awareness of risks from poor pesticide use practices in West Africa.  Inevitably with limited resources for training, direct contact with farmers can reach only a tiny fraction of the farming population in any region, but efforts in training current graduate students in principles of epidemiology and IPM at least establishes the potential for a multiplicative effect. To that end, members of 1680kcal, together

with close collaborators, will be holding what we hope will be the first of a series of graduate epidemiology “summer” schools in the coming week.

The first summer school is being held at the Indira Gandhi Agricultural University, Raipur, Chhattisgarh India with financial support from the Indian

government via the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.  Trainers and students alike are converging on Raipur over the next few days for what promises to be a stimulating week of tuition and discussion.