Training in sustainability for plantation managers - TALENT
The ASEAN zone is home to the world’s third largest tropical rainforest, but also to the world’s biggest producers of palm oil, rubber and wood (lumber, plywood, pulp). In this zone, perennial plantations of all sizes are exploited and managed by public or private operators. Their development translates into increased pressure on ecosystems, including natural forests. Today, any manager responsible for a plantation or an agricultural cooperative is faced with issues of sustainability (economic, social or environmental).
However, from the major international challenges to the practical everyday aspects, sustainability issues are not directly addressed in training programmes, and young agronomists are not always aware of their importance, or of the major changes underway in their professions. Education in sustainability is disconnected from the day-to-day teaching of future agricultural and forestry engineers: soil science, terrestrial or marine ecology, input and waste management, for example, are still taught separately. This is the context in which the need for the TALENT programme became clear.
The TALENT programme concerns the paper pulp, lumber, oil palm and rubber sectors in four countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam). The partnership aims to develop training courses (initial and continuing) focusing on the sustainable management of plantations, and to achieve this it targets students in agricultural sciences, plantation directors, cooperative directors and banking executives involved in financing for agricultural programmes.
TALENT addresses the international agenda on the environment, questions regarding the design of plantations, a new approach to trade in agricultural commodities, and improved study programmes. The adaptation of existing training courses for current and future managers involves:
- the integration of new agroecological concepts (precision agriculture, biological control, intercropping, fertility management, climate issues), and
- new tools (traceability, certification, carbon accounting, environmental and social risk management, life-cycle analysis, participatory management).
TALENT is supported by a multidisciplinary body of experts, academics and practitioners from France and Southeast Asia. It fosters action in the field and strengthens the relations with research stakeholders, both public and private. It seeks to develop skills to resolve environmental, conservation and development problems in the region. It also enables access to financing for sustainable plantations, through targeted training for the banking sector, thereby improving their development.
In order to contribute to the dissemination of good practices in terms of sustainable management, the main innovations introduced by TALENT will succeed in:
- Decompartmentalising teaching (practice and theory);
- Showing that raising awareness about sustainability is a continuous process that does not stop at the farm gate;
- Basing the sustainability of perennial plantations, in Asia and elsewhere, on a renewed approach to the management of landscapes in all their diversity: farms and forestry operations, but also protected areas and agriculture-forestry cohabitation areas;
- Ensuring awareness raising and training for all professions and their actors, both present and future, to improve practices: trainees, as well as people in continuing education, can change their perspective and ultimately modify their everyday practices.