The year is 2021, and NASA’s Mars Rover is beaming high-definition images of the red planet’s surface back to earth. Elsewhere, some scientists are investigating cold fusion as a nearly infinite source of energy, while others are delving into the genetic structure of humans with a view of eliminating the ageing process. However, while these and dozens of similar scientific miracles are unfolding, millions of the planet’s citizens are going hungry. Investing in agricultural education may seem somewhat mundane by comparison, but the signs suggest it could prove to be crucial.
Agricultural Education, Population Growth and Food Production
The world population currently stands at almost 7,85 billion. That figure is expected to hit 9,3 billion by 2050 and to have doubled within 50 years from now. By contrast, the rate at which we are producing the crops to feed the earth’s people has been declining since the early ‘60s. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), although production grew in 43 developing countries, 51 produced less. A lack of adequate agricultural education appears to be a significant contributor to this alarming shortfall.
The Threat of Climate Change
Not only is food production down, but global warming threatens to impede our efforts to increase it. Scientists have made considerable strides in developing technology to overcome the difficulties posed to farmers by extreme weather and pests, erosion, and poor soil conditions. Unfortunately, many of those to whom these innovations are vital are unlikely to have access to an agricultural education establishment where they might learn of them.
Study Costs are a Problem
Secondary schools might teach their pupils the fundamentals of zoology and botany, but they do not produce farmers. In general, those who work the land will either pick up their basic skills on the job or study them at college. While the former option may limit the information available to them, the cost of gaining more current knowledge by attending college is frequently the more significant limitation. Given the growing need for agricultural education, one might think that governments should subsidise it. Sadly, few do. Consequently, not only are many denied the opportunity to study the theory and practice of efficient modern farming technology, but even more of the world’s people could eventually be facing malnutrition.
An Investment in the Future
To overcome the difficulties of attending a college, AGRICOLLEGES International has developed an e-learning facility that slashes the cost, facilitates part-time study from home, and minimises the entry requirements. Unfortunately, some are still excluded from vital agricultural education because even the much-reduced fees are beyond their means. Contributing to the cost of bursaries for them is an investment in the future of all.