This article aims at giving you facts on Agricultural Economics degree and the careers you can venture in.
The first time I ever heard of Agricultural Economics was in my SS2. When I heard a teacher mention that, I concluded he probably made a mistake until he went further to speak about the course. If anyone had told me that day that I’ll reject nursing to end up studying Agricultural Economics, I’ll never believe it.
It hasn’t been easy as an Agricultural Economist. Not too many people know about the course and each time I mention the course I studied, I always get a very weird look from people, someone once said “so you spent a whole five years in school just to learn how to become a farmer”. For many, at the mention of Agriculture, the only thing that comes to mind is hoe and Cutlass, farming. It can really be embarrassing sometimes.
If only they know how lucrative that course is. So, are you among those that feel Agricultural Economics is all about acquiring a piece of farmland, are you one of those that have never heard about the course? This article will expose you to all you need to know about Agricultural Economics.
WHAT IS AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS?
Agricultural economics is a branch of applied economics that takes the tools of both micro and macroeconomics and uses them to solve problems in a specific area. Agricultural economists examine data to determine patterns and trends in economic activity. They also conduct research to collect data and market samples. They use the predictions obtained from their research to inform, influence, and improve the business decisions of clients and agricultural organizations.
In fact, agricultural economists can actually work on farms.
Agricultural economics majors find themselves working in banks, credit unions, insurance companies, legal firms, and private companies. Some get jobs with the government. Others go into agribusiness and work as business managers or consultants. Some go into sales, working for food retailers and wholesalers. Some become experts in customer relations. Some go into research. Some even go into advertising and marketing.Many agricultural economics graduates work in the textiles industry.
My desire has always been to work in an Agricultural parastatal or ministries. This type of degree can lead to hundreds of opportunities.
Also, Agricultural economics majors can become experts in rural development. They think globally, and know that food is now an international business. From air pollution to pest control to biofuels, people who earn degrees in agricultural economics become people who solve problems and problem solvers are in high demand. Our slogan back in school was “the policymakers”. Agricultural Economists are analysers and great thinkers.
TWO THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS
Firstly, it is a professional course. The nature of the course permits you to take professional examinations if you intend to advance in your career. An example is the popular ICAN.
Secondly, it is a five (5) year course. So stop seeing Agricultural Economists as people who went to school to study farm practices. It’s way beyond that.
CAREERS IN AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS
Below are some of the things you can do with an Agricultural Economics degree
- Agribusiness Consultant
- Agribusiness Specialist
- Agricultural Appraiser
- Agricultural Loan Officer
- Agricultural Marketing Specialist
- Agriculture Development Officer
- Agriculture Economist
- Bank Manager
- Commodities Broke
- Economic Analyst
- Economic Development Coordinator
- Financial Analyst
- Public Policy Analyst
- Environmental Economist
- Supply Chain Manager
AGRICULTURAL LOAN OFFICER
This career choice will allow you to work in the loan department of many banks, and you’ll be expected to help farmers and other rural clients apply for funds that are needed to purchase property, keep their agricultural business running and upgrade to better equipment in order to expand their business.
You’ll use your agricultural and business knowledge to provide workable solutions for your clients farming issues, evaluate the risk of all loans etc. If you don’t wish to work in the common banks we know, you can as well work in Agricultural banks such as the Bank of Agriculture(BOA).
As an agribusiness consultant, you’ll be expected to use both your technical and business expertise to provide professional advice about the use and management of agricultural land. You may spend your days defining business strategies and working through financial issues with agricultural landowners, or you may choose to specialize in a specific area such as crop rotation, forestry consultancy or pollution control.
Most importantly, your goal is to offer advice that will enhance the sustainable development of agricultural land. Youll find employment through the government, agencies that are devoted to agricultural development and commercial farms.
In this regard, I’m also a consultant in Apiculture. Being an Agricultural Economist doesn’t restrict you to a specific branch of Agriculture. You’re free to explore any area at all.
Whenever a farm is being set up, sold, mortgaged or insured, an agricultural appraiser is needed to provide a proper value on the land, the farming equipment and everything else that comes with it. You may do some of your work right in the fields by taking pictures and careful measurements, but much of the needed information can be found on your computer.
You may use sales records and equipment prices to help you assess the true value of the property, and you’ll be expected to write a comprehensive report for the insurance agency or the bank that requested the information.
AGRICULTURAL COMMODITIES TRADER/BROKER
This may be an excellent career choice if you desire to work in a stock market. You’ll find yourself right in the busy centre of international commerce, and there you’ll deal with many aspects of raw products that include items like coffee, corn, sugar, grains and cotton. You may actually buy and sell these products too.
AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
An agricultural development officer has the opportunity to do good work all around the world. Wherever you work, your goal will be to develop and increase agricultural activity and income in that particular area.
Your duties will include forming long-term agricultural plans and making important decisions in regards to the distribution of agricultural resources. You may find gainful employment through various government agencies too.
If you’re a person who is passionate about lecturing, there is nothing to worry about. Having a degree in Agricultural Economics is just a step to becoming a lecturer. After your first degree, all you need to do is go for your postgraduate studies. Depending on the level your wish to get in your lecturing career, you can also consider getting to the PhD level. The higher the better.
In my department, I had six professors. So, you have no excuse.
Becoming your own boss as a manager in a family and/or other small businesses isn’t such a bad idea. With your degree and all the knowledge, you can decide to set up an agro-business. You can choose to manage your own farm as well.
Many of my coursemates have set up agricultural businesses, some are into snail farming, one went into piggery, some have plantain and Cocoa plantations and one currently wants to set up an Apiary (bee farm) and guess what, she needs my assistance and guidance to do that.
Starting a business can be capital intensive but not all agribusinesses require much startup capital. For instance, those into snail farming, you don’t spend much to start. Sometimes, all you may need are a few snails you probably picked from bushes or a neighbour’s backyard. You don’t necessarily need to spend on their feeding. The watch from your kitchen and pawpaw leaves can serve that purpose.
There are different opportunities and things to venture into with an Agricultural Economics degree. You not have to end up on the farm with Cutlass and how like most people feel. In fact, that’s very absorbing. With your degree, you stand a chance to build a career in any of the options above, you can manage a bank, work in an oil company etc, but it all depends on your academic advancement and experience. These factors also determine your earnings as an Agricultural Economist.
I once had a coursemate who was shy of the course, she carefully avoids being in a position where she will be asked “what did you study?” She always felt intimidated when others mention top courses like Medicine, Accounting etc.
This continued until one day, one of the top speakers who was invited for an inaugural lecture in my school introduced himself as an Agricultural Economist. The amazing thing he said was “I prefer to be called a policy-making farmer“. That was the climax of the event. The cheering was beyond expectation.
So, I hope this article helps you in your career decision as an Agricultural Economist. If you’re planning to apply for the course but still contemplating because you don’t want to be referred to as a farmer, there’s no harm in being called a farmer. Consider the careers in this article and see yourself as a hot cake in the world’s economy.