WHO ARE WE?
The International Center for Agribusiness Research and Education (ICARE) Foundation is a non-governmental and non-commercial organization established in Yerevan, Armenia in 2005 by Texas A&M University. ICARE is an umbrella institution for the Agribusiness Teaching Center (ATC), the Agribusiness Research Center (ARC), and the EVN Wine Academy.
The Agribusiness Teaching Center is the first and the flagship unit of ICARE. ATC provides agribusiness education to achieve sustainable entrepreneurial activities in the food and agriculture sector in Armenia and Georgia. It prepares agribusiness specialists at undergraduate and graduates levels, armed with broad economic, marketing, and managerial skills, up-to-date communication abilities, and excellent knowledge of English. These skills make ATC graduates competitive in the growing regional agribusiness sector. The curriculum is Western-structured, based on the undergraduate (Agricultural Economics) and graduate (Master of Agribusiness) curricula of Texas A&M University. Courses are taught in English by American and Armenian instructors.
ATC, as an academic program, was started in 2000 as a collaborative effort between Armenian National Agrarian University (ANAU) and Texas A&M University, with financial and technical support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). ATC was established to run the Undergraduate Agribusiness (UAB) program. Professors from universities in the United States joined to incorporate and teach a Western-structured curriculum. In 2002 the first class of 28 students graduated from ATC and received State Diplomas of Economics from ANAU and Certificates from Texas A&M University. In 2013, ATC was named the best ANAU Department at the 7th Annual ANAU Golden Ear Awards.
In 2005, the International Center for Agribusiness Research and Education (ICARE) was established by Texas A&M University as a collaborative effort between ANAU, Texas A&M, and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.
The Master of Agribusiness (MAB) program was launched at ATC in 2010. The MAB is a professional degree program focused on the agribusiness sector with an emphasis on combining economic, business analysis, and quantitative methods for managerial decision-making. In 2012, the first MAB class of 14 students graduated and received a Masters Degree in Economics from ANAU and a Graduate Certificate from Texas A&M University.
In 2011, an academic program review of ATC was conducted by professors from the U.S. and Australia. Team members from Texas A&M University, the University of Queensland (Australia), Michigan State University, and the University of Florida reported that ATC has a unique and extraordinary agribusiness education program that serves the needs of many stakeholders in Armenia with an internationally competitive academic program.
A videoconferencing classroom was established in 2012 as a contribution from Viva-Cell MTS, an Armenian telecommunication company, to provide students an efficient platform for learning from international professors.
In 2014, at an Armenia-US Partnership in Agriculture workshop, ICARE and ATC were recognized as an internationally competitive agribusiness education and research center and among the most successful results of US-Armenian cooperation. Also in 2014, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Armenian National Agrarian University, Virginia Tech and ICARE to promote academic, personnel, and cultural exchange between these institutions under the framework of the USAID-supported InnovATE/Armenia project. The five-year (2015-2019) cooperation includes empowering ICARE as a model agribusiness education and research center.
The EVN Wine Academy, a joint initiative between ICARE and Geisenheim University, Germany, was launched, through the financial support from GIZ, and the first cohort of students were admitted in October 2014. EVN offers an 18-month English-language certificate program in Enology and Wine Business for prospective and practicing wine technologists and entrepreneurs as well as short courses for wine enthusiasts. The program empowers its students using the latest knowledge from the global wine industry.
2015 was marked with triple anniversaries: we celebrated the 15th anniversary of ATC, the 10th anniversary of ICARE and the 1st anniversary of EVN Wine Academy. The Agribusiness Research Center of ICARE launched a 3-year USAID-funded SFEWRA (Sustainable Fisheries for Enhanced Water Resources in Armenia) research program to introduce efficient and environmentally friendly fish farming practices in 15 selected fish farms in Ararat Valley to sustain fish production levels and reduce negative water-related environmental impacts. Another highlight of the year was the first of its kind ATC-100 Campaign launched in December 2015 and continued during the next year: ATC alumni donated money for renovation the computer lab and equip with new computers that will support software needed for students to complete their projects.
A group of ATC students won by a landslide the competition within “My Finance Month” project of the Central Bank of Armenia and EYP (European Youth Parliament) in April 2016 among the leading universities of Armenia, including the American University of Armenia, the French University in Armenia, Yerevan State University and others. This was a unique indicator of the world-class education provided by ATC. In 2016, the first 14 students graduated the EVN Wine Academy’s Enology and Wine Business program; they were employed by the growing wine industry long before they were honored at the graduation ceremony.
In January 2017, ICARE launched a pioneer Food Safety Systems Management (FSSM) course through the USAID-funded InnovATE/Armenia project. This innovative program was taught by Dr. Joe Marcy, Virginia Tach University and Dr. Catherine Cutter and Dr. Siroj Pokharel, Penn State University. The senior undergraduate class of ATC received Certificates of Completion from Penn State and Virginia Tech handed over by the Armenian Minister of Agriculture. 2017 was marked also with the first International Wine Conference in Armenia, with ICARE and EVN being instrumental in organizing and hosting this unprecedented event participated by the Armenian Prime Minister, the President of OIV, President of Geisenheim University and other dignitaries. In December 2017, a project end meeting at USAID Armenia, participated by the Country Director, Deborah Grieser, highlighted the success of USDA Armenian Agricultural Census Support project that had enjoyed ICARE’s expert and logistic assistance for more than 5 years.
In February 2018, ICARE launched its 8-month Greenhouse Crop Production and Management innovative educational program to meet the unprecedented demand in specialists in the Armenian greenhouse industry that plays increasingly significant role in agriculture of Armenia. 19 participants were selected as a result of a very tough competition. They are trained not only in modern plant cultivation techniques but also will be well aware of marketing and management best practices. The curriculum was developed based on the experience and best practices of world-class international universities.