Pushchino Higher Biotechnological College (Pushchino Agrocollege) was founded in 1992 as a non-governmental college to provide undergraduate, graduate and vocational training in new technologies in the agricultural sciences, and to effect technology transfer in local farms and agribusinesses.
The initial focus of the Agrocollege is on developing the technical and material requirements to effectively engage in technology transfer, while participating in government programs designed to improve the condition of the agricultural sector in Russia. The government has supported the activities of the Agrocollege in the form of loans, as well as a grant of 680 acres of farmland.
The primary areas of activity at the Agrocollege at this stage are in cattle-breeding and vegetable crops, particularly potatoes. In 1993 the Agrocollege received 103 head of beef cattle as a donation from CTC foods, with assistance from the Eurasia Foundation, and the herd has since grown to 293 head. These cattle serve as the basis for research and training in embryo technologies, and also as a demonstration herd of free-range beef cattle. An animal health laboratory was established in 1995 jointly by the Agrocollege and the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics, as part of the USAID project "Uniting Science and Education and the Transfer of Technology for Sustainable Economic Development and Environmental Protection of South-Central European Russia." This laboratory has begun to provide services to local farms and regional departments of agriculture in analysis of blood, fodder, and animal products.
Capabilities of the laboratory include immunodiagnostics and molecular bioloy, biochemical genetics, genetics, analytical biochemistry, and others. The Agrocollege also participates in the Russian federal program "Preservation of the Genofond of Disappearing Breeds of Cattle" by conserving genetic material of rare purebred cattle in a cryobank.
The second major area of focus at the Agrocollege is potato production and processing. This integrated project includes the full cycle of potato production, from production and certification of virus-free seed material (developed with support from the USAID project being implemented in Pushchino) to consultations for local potato producers, to processing of potatoes at a flaking plant under construction in the Pushchino area. These projects, as well as the above programs in cattle-breeding, are supported by the interregional program of the Ministry of Science and Technology Policy "Transfer of New Technologies into Agrobusiness."
The Agrocollege began offering educational programs on a small scale in the fall of 1994. There are currently 35 undergraduates and high-school seniors enrolled in three academic programs in plant and animal biotechnology and extension service.