Yara has signed an agreement with the University of Western Australia (UWA) to create content for a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) entitled "Agriculture, Economics and Nature".
If you happen to wander about in Perth, the capital of Western Australia, you may stumble upon the UWA. The first students arrived in 1913, and the university has since shaped a Nobel Prize Laureate as well as an Australian Prime Minister. Now, the UWA and Yara have entered into a partnership, reflecting the company’s presence in the state, as well as the wish to foster knowledge connected to agricultural production methods.
On 5 November the signing ceremony marked an MoU (Memorandum of understanding) - a broad agreement to partner, and a concrete example of this partnership - the MOOC course development.
Balancing agricultural output and environmental impact
"The signing is a culmination of almost a year of collaboration with the UWA and Yara Corporate Communications," says Yara Pilbara CEO Mark Loquan. "The main motivation from Yara Pilbara was to make a mark as a relatively new player in the Western Australia landscape. This is the first time UWA is partnering with industry on a MOOC, which will be marketed to a global online audience, free of charge."
"The School of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UWA, which will be responsible for developing and delivering the course, is Australia's leading university department in this area and has a strong international reputation, with collaborations across North America and Europe," Mark says.
"The key economic principles discussed in the course will help to foster greater understanding about agricultural production methods, input levels, resource conservation, and the balance between agricultural production and its environmental impacts," says course instructor Professor David Pannell, one of Australia's leading economists working in the areas of agriculture, natural resources and environment.
Driving agricultural expansion in Western Australia
"I believe this partnership signifies a positive step towards relations in the broader community, and fits well with Yara's ambitions of Creating Impact, and global initiatives," Mark adds. "At the same time, it can potentially make a difference to the local farmers who experience challenges to becoming more and more competitive, water sensitive, and so on."
Yara Pilbara is the only downstream plant in the region, and has gone further downstream to engage with the wider regional community and a residential policy of housing for employees rather than the more common practice of FIFO (fly in-fly out).
Agriculture is firmly in the region's attention at the moment. The national news has reported that the discovery of untapped water resources in Pilbara could "drive agriculture expansion", and the region's premier said that Western Australian agriculture "is on the cusp of a new era and may just be looking at its best opportunities in more than half a century".
Australian agriculture continues to be export oriented, and the government recently declared that "Education in agriculture is imperative" to provide candidates for the agricultural jobs of the future and the general public with basic information about the realities of agricultural production.
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