Graduate Certificate in Tropical Agriculture Development

Degree Details

The Graduate Certificate in Tropical Agriculture Development is designed to prepare individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to begin a career in the field of International Agriculture Development with primary focus on smallholder farmers. The International Agriculture Development worker needs to be prepared to creatively problem solve, listen to the local community, identify gaps and opportunities in the agricultural landscape, and intimately understand the factors that contribute to cultivating food. In addition, participants will learn how to apply this knowledge within communities through training in cross cultural training, multicultural teamwork, community development, and agricultural experimentation.

This Graduate Certificate includes an intensive 12-month practical component that requires acceptance to the ECHO Internship Program. ECHO is an International nonprofit located in North Fort Myers, FL. Persons interested in this program should apply for the ECHO Internship.

The goal of this program is to enable students to:

  • Articulate the importance of small-scale farmers’ contributions in combating food insecurity within communities.
  • Implement and evaluate small-scale agricultural techniques in an intern-managed demonstration area.
  • Effectively develop cross-cultural agricultural training for adult audiences facing diverse climatic and agricultural scenarios.
  • Address diverse and complex agricultural challenges through heightened and informed critical inquiry.

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There are no prerequisites for this certificate program. Persons interested in this program should apply for acceptance to the ECHO Internship Program. Final acceptance to this certificate is contingent on acceptance to the ECHO Internship Program.

Certificate Course Requirements (13 credits)

This is a one-year certificate which consists of eight carefully selected courses; a portion of which take place in-person on ECHO’s Campus in SW Florida. The certificate requires all eight courses (13 credit hours), with no availability to waive courses.


Courses taught onsite at ECHO’s Campus:

AA5201 Fundamentals of Tropical Agriculture covers principles and practices that are fundamental to small-scale tropical agriculture. Course content focuses mainly on crop production within systems. It covers basic requirements of successful cropping including quality seed, adequate water, healthy soil, and productive plants. Students will gain hands-on experience in meeting these requirements. Woven throughout the course will be instruction on factors such as climate, cost, resource availability, and level of risk that guide farmers’ management decisions and adoption of practices. Thus, students will be equipped with foundational knowledge and skills to grow food in ways that are appropriate to farmers’ growing conditions and needs.

AA5115 Tropical Crops in Small-Scale Agriculture introduces students to horticultural and agronomic crops they should be familiar with in serving small-scale farmers in the tropics and subtropics. It exposes students to categories of crops including annual and perennial vegetables, fruits, multipurpose trees, and green manure/cover crops. Information is taught in sufficient detail to help students match crops to tropical climates and equip them with practical skills in growing important tropical food plants.

AA5130 Tropical Agriculture Systems investigates sustainable tropical agricultural systems utilized around the world.  The course will cover the biophysical and social-economic attributes of these systems, which are practiced by small-scale farmers. The course examines the crops and animals that are part of farming systems but also introduces students to a systems analysis where problems, causes of problems, interventions to resolve these problems, and the consequences of the interventions are investigated. The students will learn about specific systems through lecture and visiting systems both on ECHO’s Global Demonstration Farm and through field trips. Each student will prepare a presentation on a specific tropical agricultural system designated by the instructor and gain hands-on experience with the system that is assigned on the ECHO Global Demonstration and Research Farm during lab time.

AA5145 Community Development teaches principles and practices for holistic development.  The focus will primarily be on international community development and for those working in agriculture development. Theories of knowledge transfer and communication will be emphasized alongside respect for community participants. Students will be exposed to various tools that may be useful when interacting with agricultural communities and will come away equipped to address opportunities and challenges of working in agricultural communities.

AA5160 Small-Scale Agricultural Experimentation provides students an overview and the basic skills of agricultural experimentation. Students will learn examples of how experimentation has benefited smallholder farmers around the world.  The course will specifically focus on the context of applied experiments for small-scale farmers.  The students will be able to implement small-scale experimental designs and research common questions that face agricultural practitioners in the tropics.


Courses available synchronously:

AA5150-OL Special Topics in Tropical Agricultural Development

AA5370 Advanced Anthropology provides students with both a breadth of instruction and focus of specific data analysis applicable to research and applied work across all subdisciplines in anthropology. Students will learn organize, classify, analyze and interpret anthropological data.

AA5352 Program Design and Management engages students in strategic planning procedures for working with speech communities to design and manage language development programs. Students will learn to differentiate key contextual factors, interpret community-based stakeholder input, and collaboratively formulate a program plan. Students will learn to appraise indicator data, deduce lessons being learned, and use their conclusions to revise the original program plan. The course will highlight the management skills crucial for collaborating with local community based organizational stakeholders, including a program goal to improve their capacity for managing language-development program activities.