GRÓ LRT visit to partners in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan

2 November 2023
At Samarkand State University: Dr Muhtor Nadirov, Dr Sjöfn Vilhelmsdóttir, and Dr Toshpulot Rajabov
At Samarkand State University: Dr Muhtor Nadirov, Dr Sjöfn Vilhelmsdóttir, and Dr Toshpulot Rajabov

In October, Dr Sjöfn Vilhelmsdóttir, the Director of GRÓ LRT, travelled to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to visit GRÓ LRT's partner institutions in both countries. The purpose of the visits was to meet with the directors of these partner institutions and interview potential candidates for GRÓ LRT Fellowships to attend the annual six-month training in Iceland. Dr Bryndís Marteinsdóttir from the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland, who is a member of the GRÓ LRT Academic Committee and a key lecturer in the training programme, accompanied Sjöfn on the visit to Uzbekistan.

In Uzbekistan, Sjöfn and Bryndís began their visit at Samarkand State University, where they met with the rector, vice-rector, and the senior consultant in the International Relations Office. Dr Muhtor Nasirov, the senior consultant, played a pivotal role in establishing the partnership between Samarkand State University and GRÓ LRT in its early years. Sjöfn and Bryndís also participated in an international conference on food security with the Uzbek GRÓ fellows, including a special GRÓ LRT session featuring presentations from the GRÓ LRT director, lecturer, and fellows.

The GRÓ LRT visit to Samarkand is part of GRÓ LRT and Samarkand State University's Erasmus+ Mobility Project (2023-2025), specifically with the Institute of Agrobiotechnology & Food Security, led by Dr Toshpulot Rajabov, a GRÓ LRT fellow from 2009. The Mobility Project focuses on curriculum development related to rangeland ecology, and Sjöfn and Bryndís visited the Institute to discuss this collaboration with students and talk about the GRÓ LRT programme and ecosystem restoration in Iceland.

In Tashkent, Sjöfn and Bryndís met with representatives from the Institute of Botany, Tashkent Irrigation & Mechanization Research University, and Toshkent Davlat Agrar University, but fellows from all these three institutions have participated in the GRÓ LRT six-month training. Sjöfn and Bryndís presented information about GRÓ LRT and ecosystem restoration work in Iceland and conducted interviews with potential candidates.

In Kyrgyzstan, Sjöfn had meetings with representatives from Naryn State University, CAMP Alatoo, Department of Pasture & Livestock Breeding, Kyrgyz National Agrarian University, Kyrgyz Institute of Livestock & Pasture, Scientific & Production Center for Forest Research, State Design Institute for Land Management, and the University of Central Asia. Additionally, Sjöfn visited the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) and delivered a lecture to students and faculty, discussing land restoration in Iceland and the GRÓ LRT programme. This visit is part of the GRÓ LRT and AUCA's Erasmus+ Mobility Project (2023-2024), with the aim of developing a partnership between the two institutions.

As is customary during GRÓ LRT visits to partner countries, Sjöfn and Bryndís also met with GRÓ LRT alumni in both Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Notably, 10 fellows from Uzbekistan and 11 from Kyrgyzstan have successfully graduated from the GRÓ LRT six-month training programme in Iceland.