The Certificate of Professional Qualification in Agro-Ecological Crop Protection, a diploma offered as part of the BioPhyto project, is the first of its kind aimed at producers and focuses on skills in the innovative field of agro-ecology. Seven producers, all members of the BioPhyto network, were enrolled in the first session. The graduation took place on May 23, 2013 at the Institut Universitaire de Technologie in Saint-Pierre, Reunion.
The aim of agro-ecological crop protection is to revitalize the ecological balance in agricultural ecosystems. There are several plant management techniques which can help to both reduce the number of pests and increase populations of beneficial insects, therefore promoting a functional animal biodiversity. This biodiversity consists of arthropod predators, pollinators and parasitoids, and plays a major role in pest regulation. Agro-ecological crop protection requires the farmer to rethink how to fight against pests and preserve beneficial insects. This knowledge is what is offered by the Certificate of Professional Qualification in Agro-Ecological Crop Protection.
What is CUQP ?
A Certificate of Professional Qualification (CUQP) is an academic course designed to meet a specific need in the world of work. It complements the Education Nationale’s higher education and degree programs by providing students with new, proven techniques and helping them develop skills linked to their specific field of work.
Agro-Ecological Crop Protection Objectives
This course will train professionals in agriculture (organizations, farmers, workers, etc.) in proven agro-ecological practices. The concept of agro-ecology must be understood and techniques must be reproduced by students at the end of course.
Accessibility and course organization
The course is open to farmers and farm employees, and is financed by accredited fund collecting and distributing agencies VIVEA, FAFSEA and Opcalim as part of continuing vocational training. The course is limited to 14 students to enhance student-teacher relations.
The teaching staff consists of professionals from the Chamber of Agriculture, the Cirad, FARRE, FDGDON, ARMEFLHOR, and the IUT. The curriculum is spread over four units, with 23 hours of classes and 11 hours of fieldwork over 5 days. Lunch and transportation for field trips are included. A training kit is provided to each student including a notebook and pen, lesson notes, two textbooks and a magnifying glass field for observing arthropods.
Assessment & Outlook
Thirteen students attended the course between April 5and April 15, 2013. They consisted of 3 technicians, 4 farm employees and 6 farmers. All students obtained a pass. At the graduation ceremony, Philippe Laurent, a lecturer at the University of Reunion, hoped that "this courseis just the first of many which will offer our agricultural professionals the possibility of obtaining a qualification in agro-ecology". Jean Philippe Deguine, coordinator of the BioPhyto project at the Cirad, reiterated that "when the Gamour project (agro-ecological management of vegetable flies) began in 2009, agro-ecology was a subject embraced by only a handful of professionals. Today, the advent of this university qualification in agro-ecological crop protection represents a very significant step forward. Producers can now become agroecology pioneers in Réunion."
Course content :
• Day 1: Crop protection and agro-ecology
1. Crop protection today
2. The basics of agroecology:
- Concepts and guiding principles
- Application of agro-ecology to crop protection
- Conservation biological control and habitat management
• Day 2 : An example of agro-ecological crop protection in Reunion : Gamour
1. Applied agroecology : project Gamour
- Design and implementation
2. Field visit
• Day 3: Crop Arthropods (pest and beneficial arthropods)
1. Arthropods in agro-ecosystems
2. Laboratory visit (Cirad 3P)
3.Field visit and identification of arthropods (ARMEFLHOR)
• Day 4: Agro-ecological mangoprotection
1. BioPhyto field trial visit: plant and animal biodiversity
2. Indoor: project design, expected results, outlook
• Day 5: Evaluation and Debriefing (assessment and discussion)
Assessment : Oral (10 min per student) and written (1 hour)
The awarding of the CUQP depends on passing the evaluations (a mark of at least 50% isrequired. The written and oral assessments both represent 50% of the finalmark.) A certificate of attendance is given to each participant.