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Opinions of Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Columnist: Elliot Nuertey

Make Agriculture studies attractive

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It is only conflicting and ironic to note that though the agricultural sector contributes 40% of the country's Gross Domestic Product(GDP) and also employs more than 50% of the nation's workforce,less attention is generally given to the sector and it's study.

Not only does the agricultural sector contributes massively to our GDP and provides jobs for the populace,it also enable the country to meet her protein needs,cut down cost on importation since the country would not have to spend more on importing food into the country,makes available herbs for medicinal purposes and many other more.

In spite of the numerous merits from the agricultural sector, it is very disappointing to know how the majority of people show apathy toward the field,it's practice and study. However these people cannot be solely held responsible for their Lackadaisical attitude towards the field.Numerous factors trigger this behavior among people especially the youth.

Paramount among other reasons why venturing into agriculture is seen as unattractive is that,the society has relegated agriculture, it's studies and practice to the background and has made it a thing for the poor and illiterate.

In the Ghanaian society, majority of the people would prefer an unemployed graduate to a farmer who has made it to the limelight. This mindset that the society has about agriculture sometimes cause parents to discourage their ward from pursuing agricultural studies since they do not value the course to be lucrative and prestigious enough.

Contrary to the situation here,in most Southern American countries,most of their wealthy and influential citizens are commercial farmers. Famous among them is Carlos Slim,who was once rated the world's second richest man after Bill Gates.

Furthermore, not much incentives have been put in place to make the study attractive. The government and other educational stakeholders place much emphasis on the general arts and pure science courses without considering agricultural studies.

On yearly basis,we have educational directorates organising debates,writing,drama,spelling competition, and national maths and science quizzes which mainly covers just elective maths,physics,chemistry and biology. If these educational stakeholders relegates the studies of agriculture to the background and make no attempts to organize fairs and competitions to make the study equally interesting as the others,then we should not be amazed by the level of apathy shown towards the field

Moreover the fear of not gaining admission into the tertiary level to pursue further studies in agriculture is enough to set the people back. This is so because most of the courses studied by agricultural students in the senior high school level are not what is required for one to gain entry into the universities.

At the secondary school level, agricultural students are made to study general agriculture plus an elective from either horticulture, animal husbandry and crop production and on this,students are examined by the West African Examination Council (WACE),however requirement for students to study agriculture in most universities in Ghana are,general agriculture plus an elective from either chemistry,physics,biology and elective maths.

This situation has prevented many excellent agricultural students from gaining admission into the university and has led to the massive deteriorating of the study.

Also the lack of teaching and learning materials has made the field unattractive. A recent research conducted by elites from the University of Ghana and Cambridge University on how to improve agricultural studies in Ghana had shown that 70% of agricultural teachers have taught the subject for more than ten(10) years and over 90% of the teachers are qualified to teach the course, with such fine human resources to boost the study,it is only lack of facilities, lack of learning equipment and lack of tools for practical sections that can vehemently hold the field backwards.

Although the state of interest in the field of agricultural is abysmal as it stands now,it is never too late for us to turn the situation around.

Educational stakeholders must emphasize more on the studies,introduce it to student at their developing stage most definitely at the basic school level to create awareness and also introduce more incentives to make the studies more interesting, the universities too must reform their curricula to reflect the secondary school curricula,so as to give equal opportunity to all university applicants.

The society must also have a change of mind and encourage her youth into the practice of agriculture, for agriculture is and would always be the back bone for every country's development.

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