The MSc in Natural Resources Management for Tropical  Rural Development has been designed by the University of Florence-School of Agriculture and IAO in order to harmonize the experiences of three previous training programs, and to develop them further.

These programs included the first level Master degrees in Geomatics and Natural Resources Evaluation and in Irrigation Problems in Developing Countries, offered  by IAO and the School of Agriculture for several years with funding from the Italian Cooperation, and the MSc in Tropical Rural Development, offered by the School of Agriculture. The latter used to be the only graduate program in tropical agriculture and engineering available in Italian universities.

The Master in Geomatics and Natural Resources Evaluation, which reached its edition no. 33 in academic year 2013-2014, used to be organized by IAO in collaboration with the Department of Agronomic Food Production and Environment of the School of Agruculture (DISPAA). The first edition of the Master was held in 1974. The Master has always featured a strong focus on field research and hands-on experience, mainly thanks to intensive fieldwork sessions carried out in Italy and abroad (Eritrea, Bolivia, Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal, China and Ethiopia). In 2002 , with the birth of Geographic Information Systems (GIS ), the contents of the course have evolved and the Master was called “Geomatics and Natural Resources Evaluation”.

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The Master in “Irrigation Problems in Developing Countries”, organized by IAO in collaboration with the Department of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Systems of the School of Agriculture (GESAAF ), saw the participation of students from several countries of sub-Saharan Africa since its very first edition in 2006. The aim of the program was to train technicians and operators from developing countries in the fields of irrigation and water management, with particular attention paid to the protection of soil. The program equipped students with a knowledge on sustainable irrigation techniques and technologies. A practical component to integrate the classwork of the Master was allowed by technical visits to water management facilities and research centers: CNR, Lamma , Ibimet, Bilancino Dam, and Land Reclamation Authorities in different areas of the Italian territory (CER- Canale Emiliano Romagnolo; CBC – Consorzio per la Bonifica della Capitanata).

The MSc in “Tropical Rural Development”, offered by the School of Agriculture) also thanks to the close partneship with IAO, has trained students for many years. The collaboration between the two institutions intensified after end of World War II and, in 1972, the Faculty of Agriculture founded the School of Specialization in Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture. In 1980 this School was transformed into an undergraduate degree course (4 years, Italian old system ). In academic year 2002-03 the course was reorganized in a Bachelor Degree (BSc, 3 years) and a Master’s Degree (MSc, 2 years). In academic year 2012-2013 a new MSc in “Tropical Rural Development” was started, fully taught in English. This program was a peculiarity of the University of Florence, since there were no similar programs in Italy.