Progress Minded Uzbekistan Puts Particular Trust in the Authority of VMU Agriculture Academy
On the path towards democratic and economic changes, Uzbekistan has set the ambitions and possesses favorable natural conditions to create a modern agriculture sector oriented on the exports of end products. For Lithuania, the fact that Uzbekistan has chosen our Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy (VMU Agriculture Academy), a modern institution of higher education that is capable of demonstrating the trends, opportunities, and innovations in the European higher education, as a partner in preparation of the specialists necessary for the future agriculture sector and development of research, is particularly pleasing.
After her visit to Uzbekistan, during which meetings with the heads of the President’s office, Ministries of Agriculture, Higher Education, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Tashkent State Agrarian University, Prof. Astrida Miceikienė, Chancellor of the VMU Agriculture Academy has shared that an agreement on two key aspects was reached with the social partners.
Agriculture related study programmes are very popular in Uzbekistan, with 20-25 applicants per state-funded place. At present, the State is determined to establish a completely new university of agriculture. For this purpose, the experts at the Royal Agricultural University of the United Kingdom and the VMU Agriculture Academy have been asked to provide their intellectual support. The new modern university is estimated to launch in 4-5 years as a result of cooperation with the British and Lithuanian researchers.
Another important agreement reached between the social partners is dual diplomas (of Tashken State Agrarian University and VMU Agriculture Academy) certifying completion of the studies in the areas of agronomy, forestry and agri-logistics for the Bachelor and Master degree students. The study programmes executed by the both universities have been aligned to provide studies in the home country for the first half of the study period, and in Lithuania – for the second half. The final theses would also be prepared and defended in Lithuania.
VMU Agriculture Academy intends to also cooperate actively with Tashken State Agrarian University in organisation of student and teacher internship, student exchange, joint seminars, science conferences, and research projects. For the researchers at VMU Agriculture Academy, this will be the opportunity to expand the geographical outreach of their research to the East and assess the development, climate change patterns in the countries which have undergone differing transformations.
The Ministry of Agriculture of Uzbekistan is particularly interested in implementation of the AKIS (Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems) system in agriculture. VMU Agriculture Academy possesses solid know-how in this area. Together with other 18 partners in the EU, the Academy will provide advisory services to the European Commission on implementation of the system under the contract signed for the period 2021-2027. The agricultural policy-makers in Uzbekistan have been taking interest in the experience of VMU Agriculture Academy.
Prof. A. Miceikienė, Chancellor of VMU Agriculture Academy, conducting research in the area of bio-economy opportunities, has noted that Uzbekistan has just taken its first steps down the path of market economy, the agriculture sector is in the developing state, and its productivity is still fairly low. Nonetheless, agriculture is viewed in the country as an important strategic branch both due to the exports and the necessity to provide food to the growing local population that has exceeded 33 million people. In contrast to the EU, the farmers do not receive any financial support; however, thanks to the natural conditions they have three harvests annually. The agriculture sector has plans to export not only the conventional, but also organic agricultural products and develop horticulture besides the conventional cotton and wheat.
“As of 2016, Mr Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the President of Uzbekistan, has been promoting diverse reforms, including tax reforms. For example, considerable tax relief is extended to the local entrepreneurs who undertake production of new products that used to be imported into the country before that. The current President of Uzbekistan is the first to have given the green light for foreign investments in the country. At present, business representatives from the U.S. and South Korea are particularly active in tapping on this opportunity. A few Lithuanian capital companies are also present in Uzbekistan already. Considering that the third of Uzbekistan’s population is children under the age of 14, and the country will be interested in their education in future, VMU Agriculture Academy also sees a great potential for long-term cooperation with this country of the Middle East,” – concludes A.Miceikienė.