The IAEA emphasizes the importance of capacity building in Member States (MS) and provides a wide range of mechanisms for its delivery. The Subprogramme, with the support of the Animal Production and Health Laboratory (part of the FAO/IAEA Agriculture and Biotechnology Laboratory in Seibersdorf, Austria) and several academic and research institutions in MS provides or facilitates both individual and group training. Training is financed mainly through the IAEA's Technical Cooperation Fund but can also be supported by external donors e.g. European Commission.
Most training courses target modern and specific nuclear and nuclear-related technologies for improving livestock productivity, for diagnosis or controlling transboundary animal diseases including zoonotic infections that can affect humans, and for more insight of molecular techniques for identifying or sequencing genetic material. Training involves lectures, field work and laboratory practicals. The main objective is to develop and enhance skills, “hands-on” experience, and instil a knowledge base that can be used to improve livestock production, food security and farmers’ livelihood. Candidates must have a good background knowledge of the course topic and be nominated by the respective institutions and governments through the IAEA National Liaison Officers.
Examples of techniques taught during training courses include: radioimmunoassay (RIA) for determining the concentration of reproductive hormones (e.g. progesterone, testosterone, luteinizing hormone, leptines) in blood and milk; from labelling of rumen microbes to evaluation of animal feeds and pastures and evaluation of conversion of feed to nutrients, their uptake and utilization; Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) for the evaluation, identification and surveillance of targeted antibodies for detection of animal exposure to pathogens; Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) or PCR sequencing for molecular detection and characterization of animal disease pathogens; direct labelling of DNA to select for or confirm selected genomic traits that are phenotypically desirable (e.g. leaner meat, more milk, disease tolerance), and determination of an animal’s parentage.
Individual training, whether for academic research or practical purposes, is usually focused on the participants of on-going TC projects, while group training is usually open to technical staff of any institution in a developing MS. The IAEA covers the living expenses and return travel of the trainees from their home countries to the host institute, plus the tuition or bench fee. For group training, lecturers are recruited internationally based on their level of expertise and knowledge, and the necessary materials, reagents, and biologicals required for the course are all provided by the Agency.
In 2008, a total of 53 scientists (9 in DNA biotechnology, 12 in animal nutrition, 7 in animal reproduction, and 25 in animal health) received 2-4 month fellowship training outside their own countries. Additionally, 113 livestock professionals participated in IAEA training courses or scientific meetings (47 in animal reproduction, 7 in animal nutrition, and 54 in animal health). The number of participants in training courses in 2009 was 155.
a) Fellowships: Provide training, usually between one to three months, in a cooperating institution in another country, for young scientists and technicians that are part of an IAEA Technical Cooperation Project. Hosts for fellowships can be in either developing or industrialized countries. The main purpose of the fellowship programme is to provide “hands-on” training in a discipline related to achieving the outcomes of the TC project. This usually involves receiving instruction and practical experience in a specific technology, but often includes complementary activities, such as classroom education and field trips.
b) Scientific Visits: These are typically short trips (1 to 4 weeks) made by senior scientists to other institutions using more advanced technologies than their own. The objective of the trips is to gain new knowledge and network with other scientists with particular emphasis on how the acquired ideas can be incorporated into a larger system of activities. Such trips allow the visitor to broaden their scientific or managerial capability, become acquainted with new technologies, discuss and organize research and development work, and see at first-hand the application of technologies that may be available in the near future in his or her own country.
c) Training Courses: Group training on specific technologies that have near-term applications in several MS is an efficient way to spread such information. Training courses are held at Seibersdorf laboratory or hosted by a MS and may last from one to two weeks; however, some can also last longer. Selection is based on expertise, gender and country distribution. Courses are announced on the website (http://www-naweb.iaea.org/nafa/aph/index.html) and newsletter of the Animal Production and Health Section. It can also be obtained from http://www-naweb.iaea.org/nafa/aph/meetings/forthcoming-aph.html. Application forms can be downloaded (http://www-tc.iaea.org/tcweb/participation/astrainee/default.asp).
d) Sandwich PhD Programme: This programme facilitates young scientists that are part of IAEA Technical Cooperation Projects in obtaining a higher academic degree from a university outside their own countries. Under this programme, PhD students conduct the practical work in his/her own country but register for the degree and submit their thesis at universities elsewhere. In this way, the research priorities and relevance to the poor farmer will be more effectively addressed and hence the benefits of research will be more successfully targeted to the needs of a particular MS livestock sector.