Growing more agriculture graduates to feed a hungry planet

Growing more agriculture graduates to feed a hungry planet


Farm Online News
Bayer Australia and New Zealand chairman and managing director Tobias Marchand.

Bayer Australia and New Zealand chairman and managing director Tobias Marchand.

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Tertiary ag graduates are critical to the future of Australian agriculture, writes Bayer Australia and New Zealand chairman and managing director, Tobias Marchand.

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Around the globe, the workforce is moving from an environment characterised by qualifications, awards and jobs to one where innovation and creativity will be the difference between success and failure – for companies, for governments, for individuals and for educational institutions. 

Human capital development – that is, developing people to their full potential – will be the absolute game changer in keeping countries, and the people within them, productive, competitive and prosperous.

Australia’s agricultural sector is not immune to these changes.

For Australia to remain competitive in global agricultural markets longer term, our tertiary education system must not only produce more agricultural graduates, but ensure they’re equipped with skills relevant to this rapidly changing industry. 

At Bayer, we are committed to investing heavily and cleverly in education and training.

We believe that industry and tertiary institutions have a responsibility to support the next generation of agricultural visionaries to pursue careers in science and agriculture, to advance sustainable and modern agriculture, to meet the demands of a rapidly growing global population and to address the environmental challenges of the future.

Food is and has always been important. But now agriculture is seen as being more socio-economically relevant to humanity and its future health. - Tobias Marchand

This need is urgent because, for some years now, Australian universities have not been producing enough qualified agricultural graduates to meet industry demand or even maintain the status quo.

Farmers have a long history of harnessing and benefiting from technology and this is helping in responding to global concerns for food security: facing the big question of ‘How will we feed a planet of 10 billion people by 2050?’ 

Food is and has always been important. But now agriculture is seen as being more socio-economically relevant to humanity and its future health.

Agriculture’s social license to operate, especially with climate change increasingly a backdrop, is commanding greater respect and more political support year on year.

A key factor in transforming agriculture is the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This is seeing the industry rapidly absorb automation, artificial intelligence, big data, smart (digital) farming, biotechnology and, importantly, improving standards of tertiary education. 

So, agriculture is much more than ‘just farming’, and with our broad innovations and technology focus, Bayer is well placed to develop and support the next generation into these new jobs and roles emerging to join the more traditional ranks of graduate agronomists and animal production scientists. 

Professionalisation of farming is lifting education standards

Farming – successful farming – is becoming more professional. There is an increasing proportion in agriculture with degree-based qualifications. However modern farming requires much more than science-based skills.

The agriculture sector is demanding more entrepreneurial, business, financial and people skills as well as organisational management, marketing literacy and, of course, application of innovative digital technologies.

Participants at the recent Youth Ag-Summit, an event which is supported by Bayer.

Participants at the recent Youth Ag-Summit, an event which is supported by Bayer.

Supporting our Graduates

AS demand for Australia’s ‘clean and green’ foods grow across our region, and global concern for population and climate change mounts, Australia’s role in developing the Farmer of the Future is one the nation cannot ignore. Every crop or food product we produce has a viable international competitor; markets will not wait for Australia to catch up.

Promoting agricultural careers needs to be supported at every level and by a range of influencers.

The CSIRO Vacation Scholarship program and the Youth Ag-Summit, both supported by Bayer, have helped prompt this interest across the community. 

The Youth Ag-Summit is a week-long event that serves as a forum for young leaders to discuss opportunities, collaborate and find answers and solutions to the question: “How do we feed a hungry planet?” 

This year, with the support of Bayer, three young and inspiring delegates from Australia participated in the Summit.

Working with over 100 delegates from around the world, they shared their diverse experiences and worked together to generate innovative, sustainable and actionable solutions to global food security challenges.

Their mission was to come up with concrete new ideas which can drive agricultural progress across the globe and be put into practice back home.

- Tobias Marchand is the chairman and managing director at Bayer Australia and New Zealand.

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