The International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) program of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) is reaching 20 years of existence. The program started in the early 1990s and is now established in Canada and India along with the U.S. There are approximately 13,000 Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) globally truly making the program “international.”
The program started in India with the first exam in 2010. There are 240 Indian CCAs. CCA – India was part of a large grant opportunity, Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and US-AID. CSISA is focused on increasing rice and wheat yields to expand food production for combating starvation and poverty. The funders thought CCA would add the professional development piece to the project for those who advise farmers on their agronomic production. The project also includes the countries of Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Interestingly enough, the invitation to take the program to South Asia has also coincided with other countries wanting to do the same thing. Argentina and Mexico are developing their exam performance objectives and establishing the infrastructure through ASA with plans to offer the first exams in 2012. Several other countries have begun exploratory discussions with no definite plans yet — Australia, Brazil, Kenya, Liberia, Micronesia, Scotland/Britain and South Africa.
We would like to work with companies that do business internationally that are already supportive of certification in North America to develop relationships with their staff in the country that is considering certification. It greatly helps explain why the certification program is important and adds value if they can hear from their North American based counterparts. Please contact me if you work for a company that does business internationally and would like to learn more at [email protected]
New ICCA Board Structure
The ICCA Board will be implementing their new board structure in 2012. With the addition of new countries to the program like India and Argentina, the program had to become more international in its board structure. There will now be a CCA – International Council focused on global policies and procedures that impact all countries. The council will oversee the standards of the program. Each country will have a CCA – National Board or coordinating group to focus on those issues that are unique to the host country. There will still be CCA – Local Boards who implement the policies and procedures of the CCA program.
CCA & CPAg
The Certified Professional Agronomist (CPAg) program has been fully integrated into the ICCA program infrastructure beginning this month. There will be no changes for CCAs or to become a CCA. CPAg will become a specialty certification and CCA will be the base certification. CPAg will be optional and open to any CCA that can meet the additional requirements. Through this collaboration there will be one agronomy certification process building on the strengths of the programs. If you are currently a CPAg, you should have received a letter explaining all the details and how this will impact you.
ASA and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) are offering an expanding line up of online courses. ASA has offered the Fundamentals in Applied Agronomy course for the last three years and will continue in 2012. SSSA launched the Fundamentals in Soil Science course in fall 2011 and will be offering it again in this month. Other courses will also be offered including Nitrogen Management, Soil and Water Management, Precision Agriculture and Topics in Applied Soil Science.
To learn more and to register for a class visit the Websites: www.agronomy.org/education or www.soils.org/education. New courses will be added as they become available. If you have ideas for potential courses, please send me a note and we will look into it further.