More to agriculture than farming

Editorial

IT is disappointing that not many students in Papua New Guinea are taking agricultural studies despite having the country having opportunity to be an agricultural nation.
Not only is this happening here, there is the growing concern worldwide that young people have become disenchanted with agriculture.
And to think more than 80 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s population live in rural areas and practice subsistence agriculture.
The majority of people are highly dependent on the country’s forests and rivers for their food security and to meet basic needs.
The agriculture sector has always been the backbone of PNG’s economy and successful partnership programmes were needed in addressing impediments in growth.
At Independence, the country had among its chief exports coffee, copra, cocoa and tea.
These cash crops were one of the first means for people to make their own revenue and take part in the local economy.
Strengthening agriculture can produce positive ripple effects in a country’s economy.
Investments in agricultural development can help at reducing poverty.
Agriculture has been at the centre of recent economic progress for many developing nations.
Most governments are taking concrete action to address the problem and there is a clear recognition of strengthening agriculture and food systems in a manner that brings more affordable, healthier and diverse food options within everyone’s reach.
Revenue from agriculture could cater for the increasing expenditure the Government had to take care of given the increasing population over the years.
And so, in the coming years, there will be a growing need for farmers, horticulturists, agronomists and other related careers where many people can settle.
This week, the Department of Higher Education Research Science and Technology (DHERST) secretary Fr Jan Czuba said one of the common misconceptions about why students did not take up studies in the agricultural field was that it was only limited to farming and animal husbandry.
What many do not realise is that agriculture provides a wide range of career opportunities for students so studying agriculture could also be a way for many to find success.
While agricultural programmes are widely available at the tertiary level, they’re even less common at the primary and secondary level of education.
Many young people, especially in developing countries world, tend to shy away from agriculture.
One way to get them interested in taking up agricultural studies is to engage them in agriculture in their early schooling years.
The one advantage we have, is PNG is an agricultural nation.
While we know agriculture based on knowledge passed on from our fathers, we should now adapt to the changing practice in the world.
At the same time, concerns over climate change and its adverse effects on food security and environmental degradation are rising.
For instance, extreme weather changes, such as heat waves and water scarcity, are negatively affecting crop production.
The United Nations warned that climate change is driving global hunger. The trend is changing. The trend is growing.
Support for the agriculture sector is increasing.
Attitudes toward agriculture are already changing.
Young people are now speaking up for themselves on why they choose agriculture and they should be encouraged and supported, especially, at an early age.
There’s no denying the importance of general education as it lays the foundation for a child’s future but the agriculture curriculum can also equip students with practical life skills that can help them in both their future personal and professional lives.

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