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Master’s students of Advanced Engineering Schools project complete training at EkoNiva

Press-centre / News,

In Kursk oblast, EkoNiva Group’s plant breeding and seed growing subdivision has hosted a training event for master's students in plant breeding of the federal project Advanced Engineering Schools launched by the Ministry of Education and Science. The young specialists were told about the needs and demands of today’s agribusiness and the ins and outs of plant breeding and seed production.

The Advanced Engineering Schools project is mainly aimed at providing high-performance export-oriented sectors of the economy with fully skilled staff to achieve technological independence. For the second year in a row, EkoNiva has been an industrial partner of Voronezh State Agricultural University (VSAU) in the Agrogen plant breeding and genetics project along with other large holdings of the country. The initiative is designed to train geneticists and plant breeders according to individual educational solutions that meet the pressing needs of the farming sector. Another major objective of the project is to boost the efficiency of scientific research through modernisation of plant breeding and genetic programmes.

EkoNiva Group’s specialists were a success as they held lectures and practicals for the Advanced Engineering Schools postgraduates.

‘The on-site training format used at the company’s premises in Zashchitnoye village, Kursk oblast, is primarily aimed at demonstrating our plant breeding equipment, seed production and laboratory facilities to the students. In addition to theory, we want them to see and try everything in practice to deeply immerse themselves in the working process of our centre’, says Vitaliy Voloshchenko, Director of EkoNiva's Plant Breeding and Seed Maintenance Centre.

The classes provide young specialists with insights about opportunities created by the application of cutting-edge plant breeding equipment and technologies and modern plant breeding methods. Considerable hopes are pinned on the use of phytotron systems and special seed growing zones since they can speed up the activities.

‘During the training, we discuss the issues of intellectual property and cost efficiency of the plant breeding process, talk about the commercial value of a variety or hybrid, the limiting technological, organisational and economic factors influencing the success of a future plant breeder or seed grower’, continues Vitaliy Voloshchenko.

To Igor Shatalov, a master's student at the Advanced Engineering School of VSAU, agriculture has always been attractive because of its great potential for development and diversity. ‘At EkoNiva, I found out a lot of interesting and useful things. I have some experience of doing industrial training on other farms, but only this company’s specialists have illuminated several aspects of plant breeding and seed growing that I have not heard of before’, emphasises Igor Shatalov.

Valeriya Kononenko, another postgraduate taking the Agrogen course, came to study at VSAU from a small district town more than five years ago. ‘While still at school, I got into farming activities and decided to enter this interesting and promising profession. Now, I am thinking about a future place of work. EkoNiva has amazed us with its scale – it is a bright representative of high-tech agribusiness, and we can gain a wealth of experience here’, shares Valeriya Kononenko.

Vladislav Makarov joined the Advanced Engineering Schools project following his studies at the Department of Applied Mathematics. ‘It was a good chance to try my hand at bioinformatics, and I was excited to. What I liked most about EkoNiva is that its training specialists did their best to share their knowledge and practical skills’, he says.

Being an industrial partner, the Group passes on its in-house developed practices for seed growing, plant breeding and genetics and its wide experience to students and candidates for a master's degree from universities across the country. The project, in its turn, benefits the company by providing it with young professionals. In 2023 alone, sixteen people completed internships in plant breeding and seed growing at EkoNiva's Kursk subdivision, four of them staying on to work in its specialised centre. According to Vitaliy Voloshchenko, such performance speaks of the successful practical work with the students, and the latter are expected to make a promising career in plant breeding and seed production.