We all know that the agriculture sector forms the backbone of our nation’s economy. We also keep hearing stories about soil erosion, climatic changes causing destruction of crops and depleting resources like soil and water.
Researchers around the world are working fervently to mitigate the real threat of nine billion people going hungry in 2050! Governments and experts are mulling over the question of how to feed a hungry world without destroying Earth’s life support systems.
Agriculture is now more in the global spotlight than it was ever. There is an increasing demand for qualified and innovative thinkers who can apply affordable technology to promote sustainable agriculture and food security both in India and abroad.
In this background, a degree in agriculture science or management seems like a great idea for those looking to make a real difference to our country’s economy and its people.
What do the courses cover?
A number of leading universities in the US, UK and Australia offer comprehensive diplomas, degrees and certificates in agriculture and related topics. The duration of these courses range from one year to three years.
A bachelor’s degree in Agriculture management or science generally covers an introduction to agricultural and environmental science, mechanisation, buildings, agricultural policy, marketing and business management. Further along the course, students are taught about the main systems of crop and livestock production, uses of pesticides, geographical information systems, and remote sensing, agricultural marketing, farm business management and the management of farm machinery and human resources; and world agriculture.
A master’s degree will require students to do an integrated farm project that draws together the many threads of the programme in a major study, and research dissertations.
Institutions such as the Royal Agricultural College, United Kingdom allow students to choose a specific area of specialisation that interests them. The areas of specialisation might include animal management; crop production; land management; organic farming; countryside management; sustainable soil management; and farm mechanisation management.
There are also courses that emphasis on the interconnections between food security and agriculture, social stability, health, plants and animals and the environment. Students will gain critical thinking skills and the ability to contribute innovative solutions to the complex challenges of future sustainable agriculture and food security.
On completion of a course in agriculture, graduates can find employment in corporations or environmental consulting companies, working in government agencies both federal and state advising on agriculture, food and sustainability-related issues, in local government in both urban and rural areas, and in non-government organisations (NGOs) working both nationally and internationally.
Where to study agriculture?
Some of the leading universities which offer accredited courses in agriculture and related subjects are:
- Royal Agricultural College, United Kingdom offers Postgraduate Certificate in International Rural Development, and BSC Agriculture (with specialisation pathways)
- Newcastle University, United Kingdom offers MSC in Agricultural and Environmental Science
- University of Western Sydney, Australia offers Master of Science in Agriculture and Horticulture (Honours); and Bachelor of Natural Science (Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security)
Lots of scholars and experts have proposed solutions to global food and environmental problems. But there is always an ever increasing demand for more innovative thinkers in the field to focus on improving agricultural systems, food production and environmental protection with the least expense and effort.
Jonathan Foley, head of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment put it all in perspective when he said in an article published on Sustainable Plant:
“Providing food and nutrition for nine billion people (in 2050) without compromising the global environment will be one of the greatest challenges our civilization has ever faced. It will require the imagination, determination and hard work of countless people from all over the world, embarked on one of the most important causes in history. So let’s work together to make it happen. There is no time to lose.”