Creating Wealth With a Job in Agriculture

By Cookie Mona, Commissioning Editor, SABC Education

Since the beginning of civilization, agriculture has always been at the heart of human civilization. Astute economists have pointed out that countries with a thriving agricultural sector invariably have a healthy economy.

In line with South Africa’s National Development Plan to create worthwhile career opportunities for our youth, SABC Education is playing its role to enlighten young people and to encourage them to consider a gratifying career in agriculture. To this end, Living Land will commence its new series in January 2016 by highlighting various agricultural vocations.

Agriculture is big business and agricultural career options go well beyond farming and ranching. If you love the idea of working with plants, animals and resources that contribute to food security, rural development and the creation of wealth, pursuing a career in agriculture will provide you with a rewarding and fulfilling future.

Without people working in all types of agriculture jobs, the shelves at the grocery store would be bare and hunger would threaten most of the population, since most people don’t have the time, knowledge, or living space to raise their own crops and animals.

When you think of agriculture, farming will most probably come to mind. However, there are many types of agriculture jobs apart from farming. These careers are usually divided into different categories, such as agribusiness, agriscience, agricultural inspecting and animal breeding. Certain positions, such as farm and ranch workers, are often trained on the job. However, there are several other agriculture jobs that require specialised training and a college or university qualification.

Young people considering taking a career path related to agriculture are definitely on the right track. While many people think that agriculture is only about learning how to plant seeds and ploughing, there are a lot of details that an agriculturalist needs to know. Agriculture is a highly interdisciplinary subject that requires students to possess a good understanding of social and natural sciences that draw on areas such as chemistry, business, management, economics, environmental engineering and biology.

Agribusiness offers many types of rewarding agriculture jobs. This usually involves working in various capacities with businesses that grow, process and sell agriculture products. It may involve farm management, price analysis or marketing. Although it may be possible to work in the area of agribusiness without academic training, most positions require some learning.

If the science of agriculture is more interesting to you than the business aspect, agricultural science may a good career option. Agricultural scientists work to improve the safety and quality of both crops and farm animals. Scientists often work in research facilities and universities. Entry level positions, such as product developers, generally require a bachelors degree in agricultural science. Those who want to conduct research or teach at college or university level need a masters degree or a doctorate.'

In order to ensure the food we eat is safe, it goes through an inspection process. Agriculture inspectors make sure farms and processing facilities meet all the required health and safety regulations. They test livestock to make sure they are free from dangerous diseases. Food is inspected for bacteria and other contaminants. These inspectors are usually hired by government departments that oversee agriculture.

Developing improved methods to grow crops and raise healthy livestock is part of what agricultural engineers do. Engineers develop more efficient tools for farming, design irrigation systems for crops and work with processing companies to find the most efficient ways to package and distribute food. Agricultural engineers generally need a bachelors degree or higher.

Another exciting type of job in agriculture is that of an animal breeder. Breeders need to be well educated on topics such as animal health and genetics. They must also know which foods to feed the animals in order to get healthy offspring. Breeders carefully study the varying traits of different livestock to determine which animals to breed. Many large animals are bred through artificial insemination and breeders need to understand how such complex procedures work.

Farmers need to be updated on the latest news and developments in agricultural field. Advances in research, commodity price fluctuations and changes in government regulations are very important to growers. Agricultural journalists write or broadcast on issues related to food production and can work at print publications, radio and television stations, commodity organisations and farm machinery industries. Similarly, agricultural photographers shoot photos of crops, livestock and farms and attach them to magazines and newspapers, or post them online. These journalists usually have a college or university education.

Not every agriculture job requires a degree or diploma. Seasonal jobs are readily available on farms, and many jobs don’t require a diploma or knowledge of the crop – just a willingness to be a dependable, hard-working employee. From there, it is easy to work into a full-time or year-round position. Some of the most successful farmers in South Africa have never gone to college or university; they simply learned what they needed to know through years of working under the guidance of a mentor on a farm. Over the years Living Land has featured many highly successful farmers and entrepreneurs who have gone this route.

Many schools offer programmes specifically dealing with agriculture, and almost all have subjects in biology, chemistry, and other scientific fields. Naturally, by getting a diploma or degree, you’ll qualify for more advanced positions in the agricultural world. In addition, you can also get a qualification in an area like business or finance if you have aspirations of someday owning your own farm. Regardless of the type of work, this is a business, and learning how to manage it will greatly increase your chances of success.

Be sure to watch Living Land on SABC2 at 05h30 to stay abreast of all the latest information and trends in the exciting world of South African agriculture.

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