Prof. Dr. Remigio Berruto, Ph.D.
Dear CIGR members, guest, I am Remigio Berruto, Professor from University of Turin, Italy, and I will be the CIGR President for the next two years.
Agricultural and biosystems engineering is still my passion and is the essence of my professional academic life. It was more than 30 years ago when I started to work at the University of Turin (Italy). My first CIGR congress was in Dublin, in 1989 and I did not speak English. Luckily, at that time it was possible to do an oral presentation in French. Over there, through CIGR network, I meet Prof. Bakker Arkema, from Michigan State University, who helped me to start a PhD program at Purdue University, USA. Without CIGR, my knowledge, network, even my education, will not be the same. Through the years, my network developed into friendships. It was through the confidence and support of the members and people currently in the Presidium that I became the Member of the Vth Section of CIGR (2010-2014), the president Vth Section of CIGR (2014-2018), and then elected as incoming President of CIGR (2019-2024).
All people like me, with grey hairs, have seen profoundly changes in agriculture through the year. Population, even if is not growing at the expected rate, demand for new life style and more products available on the market. There are drivers and challenges that could be an opportunity or a threat for Agriculture, like greening of products, climate change, food safety, reuse of wastes and by-products, increased use of digital technologies and social media, supply chain globalisation, to cite some. These drivers require new knowledge, skills and business models to allow agriculture to profit of the actual scenarios. They are articulated unambiguously in the Global Initiative of ASABE in which CIGR has participated as a partner for several years, organising joint workshops and scientific conferences, but we need more aspects to be considered. However, to push forward innovation, we need four pillars: the innovation itself, the education, the entrepreneurship and the communication. And there are gaps not covered in Agriculture with respect to these domains.
For the innovation, we need to look at the real impact, besides peer review papers, of what we are doing. We do not need only research and development, but also knowledge transfer to be applied at a global scale. We need to find business models, ways to collaborate in a win-win environment, between different areas of the world. Sometimes, we need only to apply the same technology somewhere else, without starting from scratch. Time-saving, money-saving could be huge, and it will be easy to transfer something proven to be successful in other regions of the world. This not only relates to technology but also business models, strategies, knowledge, and works for both research and education. Too often we forgot that real innovation, to be used also require education and entrepreneurship. It still happens that farmers rely on technology sellers to acquire information about the technology itself. This approach presents some risks, and we need in the end to help farmers or farm advisors to judge about the use of a technology /innovation from a fair point of view. We need to act to provide flexible education, that looks at the technology and at the same time, provide skills for entrepreneurs, that can apply successfully business models to exploit the innovation.
Moreover, last but not least, we need to engage the players in the agricultural sector as trainees of educational efforts. For what concern the communication pillar, As the past President, my friend Tadeus Julizsewski said: “It is still my opinion that establishing contacts (and keeping them alive) at governmental, political, and financial spheres should be one of the priorities in our organisational activities”. I agree with this vision - Lobbying with the institutions is still a very important goal, especially today. However, we also need to consider some other issues, related to social media existence, with a kind of a “Matrix” of the real world. Fake news, especially in agriculture, if not managed well, could destroy efforts made in years to achieve some consensus among stakeholders and consumers. Agriculture needs an online reputation; we need to act in advance before problems hit our stakeholders. This requires unbiased communication with stakeholders, agencies as national and international level, and also touched our sector. Engineering also needs young professionals. For this reason, we will continuously push the establishment of a young CIGR society, to involve students that later will become professional in the sector. During my time in the Presidium, I will work toward making stronger CIGR, through work on services, website, newsletter, networking. I wish to thank particularly Prof. Emeritus Fedro Zazueta, actual CIGR Secretary-General.
CIGR rely on people, and I think that all our members and us, in the Presidium, we are very lucky to have a so committed person to bring CIGR forward. Moreover, last, but not least, I wish to thank you all, for the support you will provide to make CIGR a global institution in the biosystem engineering world. As the year of 2019 is around the corner, I would like to extend my sincere wish for a happy new year to all the scientists and engineers in Agricultural and Biological Systems Engineering. The year 2018 was productive for CIGR. We saw the 19th World Congress of CIGR that was held in Turkey, and the smooth transition of the secretariat of CIGR from Japan to USA. The CIGR Technical sections conducted numerous activities, including specialty conferences and symposia. Because of the Technical Sections and Work Groups performance in their areas, CIGR's influence around the world was widely expanded. I would also like to thank members of the Presidium for their dedication and commitment to CIGR. Over 2018, the CIGR Presidium convened weekly video meetings to discuss important affairs. Finally, I would like to express my heartiest appreciation for Prof. Fedro Zazueta, for his great work as the Secretary General of CIGR. Operations were improved because of the time and energy he devoted. One of the most important ways to improve the quality of life of people is a result of the progress made in science and technology. All of us are engaged in providing people with an adequate supply of high-quality food. I look forward to all of us strengthening the exchange and collaboration between regions, countries, and different industries. Let us work harder together to conserve resources, protect the environment, eradicate poverty and improve people's livelihood.
Finally, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to those who trust me. I will work with the Presidium, and all CIGR members to make CIGR better and stronger.