UC President highlights education at Forbes AgTech Summit

SALINAS, Calif. - The President of the University of California, Janet Napolitano, talked to those at the Forbes AgTech Summit about the importance of the technology and agriculture industries coming together.

"And the University of California is right at that nexus where they converge," said Napolitano.

Napolitano said California is at the epicenter of unprecedented challenges to the eco and food systems, changing climate, drought and deteriorating health of our soil.

She said the UC system has and will continue to implement courses with a focus on research and innovation to combat those problems. 

"One of our scientists developed a new method for keeping fresh foods fresh longer, because we know that food waste is a big issue," said Napolitano.

"I think from an education standpoint, I don't think we've ever been in a better position," said Paul Noglows, Forbes AgTech Summit Executive Producer.

Officials said changes are also happening at the CSU level. CSUMB told KION they're looking at building ag business and computer science programs.

"You can't live in this region without being aware of the farm worker shortage,” said Larry Samuels, Senior Advisor to the President of CSUMB. “The fact that technology is one of the ways in which that's going to be compensated for, that's a place that we're taking a very aggressive role. We're looking at ways to implement technology that is ag oriented into our curriculum." 

Kevin France with Swim System made Forbes top 25 most innovative ag tech start ups. He said it's been hard finding qualified ag tech professionals. Universities offering more programs and incentives to students could be part of the solution.

"The more support you can provide to them and lower the barriers to entry into what's already a new industry, will help it grow," said France. 

Napolitano also said the UC system is collaborating with private ag tech companies to find solutions.

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