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CultiVar - A coordinated Higher Education cursus in Plant Breeding with international outreach, and operative options for partners in Mediterranean/tropical countries


project intends to contribute to the general objective of training as well and as broadly as
possible students to make them efficient plant breeders / breeding program leaders that enhance
germplasm and release better adapted CultiVars worldwide. For this, we shall follow specific
* federate a coordinated offer for teaching and training in plant breeding, in adequation with needs
and local competences, with international outreach. For this we shall provide benchmark on the
needs in capacity-building and mobilise opportunities borne by local competencies for plant
breeding education, in relation to stakeholders (private sector, CGIAR international centers, and a
set of foreign partners in higher education and research);
*mobilize researchers’ communities (UMR) to contribute materials on the best of their frontier
research and their offer for training by research. For this we shall match these elementary
contributions within the models of the existing curricula in higher education institutions from
Montpellier (Montpellier SupAgro and Université de Montpellier) and in target partner institutions in
Mediterranean and tropical countries (including North / West Africa, Vietnam), delivering academic
credit units at the master and doctoral level. An element contributed can correspond to an
elementary brick (RAB) or a submodule within an existing module in a curriculum, as well as an
optional full-length module (RAM) open to several curricula. In order to develop innovative
teaching elements, proposed by researchers in close relation to professionals in pedagogical
sciences, on the model of project-based teaching, using case studies from the local research teams,
answering expressed needs, academically validated, and supported by sustainable pedagogic material
available on a dedicated platform (MOOCs, on-line material…);
* bridge plant breeding core business to strategic multidisciplinary reflections by the local
institutions. For this we shall use various opportunities in the rich interactive context of Montpellier.
Among others, we shall explore partnership with the UNESCO Chair on world’s food system at
Montpellier SupAgro in order to address questions related to priorities in plant breeding objectives
and modes of action through seminars.
* strengthen the Agropolis capacity for deploying courses in partnership through diverse
curricula in Montpellier and in selected regions, thanks to personal involvement of researchers who
created RAMs, of Agropolis researchers who are located at partners as well as researchers/trainers
from partners who are prepared for relaying and integrating the presentation of RAMs in their
* develop collective practices for attracting/steering/monitoring students cohorts coming from diverse
horizons. This includes providing a personalized academic service for students coming from
outside Agropolis, starting from the selection process abroad, providing supplementary pre-requisite
when necessary, advises for a personalized curriculum depending on the student’s academic
background and professional project, continuous mentoring, self- and external progress evaluation,
personal/professional development plan


Cultivar proposes an experimental approach, regularly evaluated and corrected along the time of the project. Two cohorts of southern students will follow a full two year master cursus and be evaluated for their capacity to continue with a PhD. Simultaneously a group of PhD students will also receive support from the project. These students will be continuously evaluated by CultiVar team to test the efficiency of the project and permit year to year modification and improve the whole system : pedagogical content, internships integration, scheduling, …
the project is structured in 4 workpakages :
1 - Adjusting precisely training needs/expectation as perceived by curricula leaders, and offers from Agropolis scientists, to complement existing curricula in Montpellier and among geographically distributed partners (Cirad DPs, IRD LMIs) elsewhere.
2- Support the deployment of Research Anchored Modules (RAMs) in curricula in existing curricula in Montpellier and different regions of the world, to start with Senegal and Vietnam. For this we shall support interactions between RAM creators and Agropolis or partner institution scientists ensuring courses onsite.
3- Support and accompany two groups of students starting their Master in years 2 and 3 and use the opportunity thus created for fine-tuning PhD modules and training practices at doctoral level
4- Stimulate the holding of seminars and conferences in Montpellier, which will place crop improvement in the global framework of research priorities, impact expectations, societal debates etc. so that students can be exposed to strategic, economical, ethical, political analyses determining the field of plant breeding.


In terms of results, 13 modules were implemented (table in Annex 2). A total of 39 sessions were organized over the three years. They mobilized more than 80 researchers, mainly from the main research units.
The thematic contents of the 13 modules covered the major current scientific and/or technological fronts around three main categories: phenotype analysis, genotype analysis and integrated approaches.
In addition to modules focused on a disciplinary field (anatomical phenotyping, epigenome) or a technology (NIRS), two of them adopting very interdisciplinary points of view could also be put into practice around
genome editing for agriculture" and "plants and humans, a shared history". A fourteenth theme was addressed, on the sustainable management of biotic stresses in plant breeding, in the form of three video clips produced and made available to students.
Foreign organizations, such as a USDA laboratory, the University of Arizona and the FAO, as well as CIRAD’s legal support and development services and partners from the Semences Paysannes association, also participated.
The website provides a description of each module for students.
The support for master students consisted on 11 fellowhips(4 from Vietnam and 7 from Senegal), who received scholarships to study for a master in Montpellier for 2 years, and 10 French students supported to do their master 1 internship abroad. One student did not complete her master’s degree, and at least six of the foreign students are currently pursuing a PhD. A deficit has been noted in terms of the number of modules, the transposition of modules to Southern partners and the general satisfaction of the students.


The CultiVar project represents a real step forward in the world of research in its mission to mission of transmitting knowledge. The training of researchers in new pedagogical new pedagogical practices has been a real asset, and at the same time the project has created a favorable environment for testing new practices on the part of teachers. teachers.
The different cohorts of students have been exposed to and benefited from the latest the latest advances in plant breeding research, and they were immersed in a rich intercultural context that rich intercultural context that significantly improves their employability. significantly.
In a new phase, it will be essential to work more in co-construction with partner countries so that this positive experience can institutions in Senegal and Vietnam.
It will be necessary to take into account the specific needs of the partner countries in terms of training, to design a student recruitment process that allows for language upgrading and basic knowledge, and to continue to move towards compatibility of paths and towards co-diplomation.
Finally, a new project, "CultiVar 2", would not be announced as new modules or new integrated courses, but rather as a kind of platform that would facilitate the "à la carte" training of students and also of young researchers from the partner institutions.
researchers of the partner institutions.
For the construction of such a platform, the mobilization of the researchers who participated in the CultiVar project that has just ended will be key to capitalize and the sustainability of the process initiated by the project.

  • Project Number
  • Call for project
  • Start date :
    1 September 2015
  • Closing date :
    31 August 2019
  • Research units in the network
Scientific partners: