The UNU-LRT fellows graduated from the annual six-month training programme on 18 September in a ceremony at Keldnaholt Research Campus of the Agricultural University of Iceland. This was the largest group so far to graduate; 21 fellow from 10 countries in Africa and Central Asia, 11 women and 10 men. Up to date, a total of 139 fellows have graduated from the programme and 48% of them have been women and 52% men.
At the graduation ceremony, the Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources, Mr Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson, addressed the fellows and other guests. Mr Gudbrandsson emphasized the importance of land restoration and sustainable land use to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and create sustainable societies. The Chair of the UNU-LRT Board and Director of the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland, Dr Arni Bragason, also spoke at the ceremony as well as Dr Hafdis Hanna Aegisdottir, the Director of UNU-LRT, and Dr Ragnheidur I Thorarinsdottir, the Rector of the Agricultural University of Iceland. Lastly, two fellows from the graduating cohort, Ms Annett Mlenga from Malawi and Mr Haqrizobek Nurmamadov from Tajikistan, also gave a speech on behalf of the graduating fellows.
Prior to the graduation (5-6 September), the fellows presented their findings from their individual research projects. An important part of the UNU-LRT training is to conduct a research project on a topic relevant to the fellows and their institutions and/or countries needs. The projects where very diverse this year as the following examples show, such as evaluating the utilization of climate smart agricultural technologies by smallholder farmers in Uganda, studying gendered attitudes of farmers in Malawi, and investigating the effect of brush control on grass species abundance in Lesotho. We warmly congratulate the fellows of 2019 on their achievements!