Wageningen Academy aims to inspire agriculture professionals with a new programme

October 18, 2023

Wageningen Academy, the Wageningen University & Research department for education for professionals, is to start teaching policy-makers and other agricultural professionals to offer insight into the lessons learned from the so-called Lighthouse Farms. Lighthouse farms are farms across the globe that have reinvented themselves.

Global agriculture is at a crossroads. There are crises ranging from climate change and supply chain disruptions to the use of food, energy and nutrients as a weapon in situations of conflict. Disruption of food production is becoming more commonplace. These challenges call for resilient agricultural systems that farmers consider practicable.

Over the last few years, lighthouse farms have emerged all over the world. They were brought together in the Global Network of Lighthouse Farms by scientist Rogier Schulte and his team. The results of the individual new farms are good, and lessons learned are shared with other Lighthouse farmers.

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Agricultural professionals

Still lacking is knowledge among policy-makers and other actors within the food system to anchor these lessons in new legislation and systems. If they have this knowledge, new farming systems are much more likely to become the standard rather than the exception.

According to Schulte, reaching the group of people around the farmer is essential. ‘We may not place the responsibility for the future of agriculture on the shoulders of individual farmers. They depend on many others within the food system for their sustenance. Consumers, processing industries, suppliers, financial institutes and NGOs, for example. And which of those are best positioned to drive change? That is one of the questions central to this new teaching concept.’

Collaboration with Deloitte played a crucial part, says Schulte. ‘They mapped how the lessons learned from the Lighthouse farms can best be aligned with the agricultural professionals’ transition agendas. Thus, we managed to extract these professionals’ motives and needs and based the Lighthouse Farms Academy programme on them.’

Wageningen Academy

The programme forms a valuable addition to the existing range of programmes Wageningen Academy offers for professionals, says Programme Manager Miel Hooijdonk. ‘We redesigned the masters’ students’ Lighthouse farms programme to better suit professionals. The programme focuses both on theory and practice. Policy-makers visit farms, a crucial element in this programme.’