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Future Agricultural and Food Challenges

Some forecasters are estimating a worldwide population explosion with an increase from the current 2.3 billion people to eight billion by the year 2020.

This would mean that agriculture will need to produce as much in the next 25 years as it has produced in the last 10,000 years, to meet the inevitable soaring worldwide food demands.

It will not be an easy task - water requirements are set to double and top soil is being lost at a rate of around seven per cent per decade.

The main challenge will be to provide enough food without further damage to the environment and against a background of increasing difficulties due to the climatic change and the diminution and pollution of water supplies.

To meet this challenge, highly qualified and motivated professionals, armed with modern marketing, business and communication skills are essential. However, those with more traditional agricultural and land management training will also be required to back them up.

Britain’s agricultural colleges and universities offer an extensive range of courses - from rural skills training to degrees in agricultural business and land management, and beyond to postgraduate level studies.Finding the right course is crucial and anyone wishing to join the land-based industries should carefully explore the opportunities available to them.

A practical short course or diploma might be a good option for a student wishing to return to the family farm while someone seeking a career in agricultural consultancy would benefit from a degree level course followed by a specialised postgraduate study programme. Many agricultural colleges have formal links with institutions in mainland Europe and as far as Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, allowing students to explore and compare differing approaches to farming.

Above all, candidates should aim to choose a course from which they will gain enjoyment in which they are at ease. Most, if not all, agricultural colleges are in a rural setting and offer a wealth of opportunities to students from urban backgrounds as well as those who come from the rural environment.

Just some of the course opportunities include equine management, animal science, horticulture, land management, rural estate management, international agribusiness, agricultural business management, ecology and rural development. Preferred A’levels usually include one or more of the sciences and geography and work experience in a relevant area is a added bonus.

Commenting on the range of opportunities, Principle of the Royal Agricultural College Professor Barry Dent said "As we move into the new century, I am convinced that really exciting careers will open up with technical and business challenges to be overcome, careers in production, in business support and finance, in marketing, in environmental management co-ordination, in technology transfer, in importing and exporting, in international co-ordination , in developing new business enterprises, in land and estate management and in chartered surveying".

Young people who are concerned about the environment, about the safety of our food or who simply enjoy the prospect of working in the land-based sector will benefit from the study at one of Britain’s agricultural tarinign institutions. The career opportunities are endless and colleges such as the Royal Agricultural College, which draws upon a network of more than 10,000 former students start out on successful careers.

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