Whilst writing this article, the world’s population rose to just short of 7,87 billion, and nearly 29 million of those were born this year. While we may perceive that the responsibility for feeding everyone rests with retailers, the vast majority of our food is grown on farms. That there is still enough food on our supermarket shelves, at least for those who can afford it, is due largely to technological advances in farming. However, barriers to agricultural skills development could mean that farmers can no longer continue to increase production levels sufficiently to cope with such rampant population growth.
What are these Barriers?
The farmer’s day, typically, starts long before that of the average office worker and often extends into the early evening. It is not easy to find the time to attend college and still cope with the many essential tasks that confront a farmer daily. Fortunately, it is no longer necessary to physically present oneself at a place of learning to pursue one’s studies. Online courses offer an agricultural skills development opportunity that farmers may benefit from in their own homes and at whatever times they find most convenient.
Unfortunately, time constraints are not the only thing that might preclude one from receiving further education. To gain admission to a college or university course, candidates must invariably meet its selection criteria. Typically, these will include higher grade matric passes in several specified subjects. While the lack of such qualifications may not impede a learner’s progress, qualification screening simplifies the selection process when places are limited.
By contrast, online agricultural skills development courses developed by AGRICOLLEGES international are open to anyone who has an adequate command of English, can manage some basic maths and is reasonably computer literate. As well as removing a barrier that might otherwise affect established and aspiring farmers, the practice also opens the door to those with only a school leaving certificate or minimal matric grades.
Online learning allows learners greater freedom to work at the times they prefer. Likewise, waiving the need for applicants to hold a matric pass removes another common barrier. However, agricultural skills development courses incur a cost, even when presented online. While course fees are a mere fraction of those charged by brick-and-mortar colleges and universities, many individuals will lack even the modest sums involved.
To help these disadvantaged but deserving individuals Educate to Grow seeks to raise funds for AGRICOLLEGES international to provide them with bursaries. Every cent received helps to further agricultural skills development and brings us one step closer to ensuring an adequate supply of quality farm produce to continue sustaining future generations.