A recent estimate from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) revealed that we will need to produce 60% more food to feed the world’s population of 9.3 billion by 2050. To feed growing population more effectively and efficiently, FAO has set a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Agribusiness will play a key role in achieving these goals.
When people hear the word agriculture, they usually think of farming. While agriculture is central to the agricultural industry, agribusiness refers to agriculture and much more. In addition to agricultural producers, agribusiness includes the companies and individuals who provide farmers with their inputs (feed, seeds, fertilizers, chemicals, equipment, technology, financing, insurance) and the marketing system for the outputs ( processing, manufacturing, transport, packaging, wholesale, retail trade) which transforms agricultural products into products sought after by consumers. With increasing globalization and ever-changing technologies, agricultural jobs are changing. Agribusiness actors use their knowledge of economics and decision-making skills to impact the agricultural industry – a sector that contributes to nearly all of the SDGs.
One program that has mastered the art of bridging agriculture and business is the Online Master of Agricultural and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. The program offers eight concentrations in the areas of agribusiness, applied animal behavior and welfare, applied nutrition and physical activity, education, environmental science, food security and biosecurity, leadership studies and plant science and pest control.
Although all programs have a significant impact on the ever-changing agricultural sector, the Agribusiness the concentration in particular will give graduates the opportunity to tackle the global food crisis by improving the farm-to-table process. Realizing that today’s agribusiness leaders need to be more innovative and involved in all processes, VT offers OMALS students the opportunity to develop their skills in management, marketing, economics, finance, policy and quantitative analysis through their agribusiness. Classes.
They do this with the help and support of great educators. “In our department, we work hard to share with each student our personal touch,” says Professor and Head of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Dr. Matthew Holt. “Even though classes are offered asynchronously and remotely, our faculty is committed to meeting with each student as needed.”
Virginia Tech alumnus and faculty member Dr. Dixie Dalton agrees, “Faculty members are readily available to meet by phone or Zoom to discuss student interests and ensure the best preparation for their ultimate career goals. We also have years of experience teaching the online modality with students recognizing the highly engaging format of online classes.
The program is suitable for professionals who want to acquire the skills necessary to stand out in the competitive field of agribusiness. Courses such as Agribusiness Strategic Management and Agribusiness Marketing Policy and Business Strategy will prepare students for the challenges of the agri-food supply chain and the international market by equipping them with solid economic knowledge.
The diverse field of agribusiness requires training with a more general and holistic approach – this is what International agricultural development and trade the course provides. It covers topics such as the role of agriculture in economic development, strategies for modernizing agriculture, and the effect of existing policies on economic growth. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to analyze and contribute to agricultural and, subsequently, economic development.
Young professionals are the ones who will benefit the most from the OMALS program because it is 100% online. This flexibility allows those who are already professionals in the field to improve their prospects without having to sacrifice years that might otherwise benefit their careers. “This is an important consideration that helps the OMALS program stand out. Online students have access to all Virginia Tech resources. These include fantastic library facilities, mental health support and career guidance,” confirms Holt.
This mode of teaching allows students not only to work at their own pace, but also to focus on other things, such as starting a business. Dalton, who previously spent 17 years teaching and advising for VT’s agricultural economics undergraduate program, shares that the graduate concentration in agribusiness was designed to offer real-world applications of course content. This greatly helps students who may face the same scenarios in their workplace. Additionally, many course assignments allow students to apply the content to a current work situation. For students who choose to pursue graduate studies upon completion of their undergraduate program, this approach will help prepare them fully for the workplace of agribusiness.
Student in agro-industry, Rachel Sandri chose the OMALS diploma to deepen her skills in agri-food and wine. She shared, “This program has given me the tools to advance in my career in food and wine while simultaneously pursuing my Masters. The Agribusiness concentration has enriched my understanding of the complexities of the agriculture and food industry which has been extremely helpful in bringing communities and conversations together within my industry. Couldn’t have asked for a better fit than Virginia Tech!
According to Dalton, OMALS students also benefit from Virginia Tech’s rich network. Faculty members have developed a network of graduates and contacts within the agri-food industry, which those who enroll in the program can take advantage of when they graduate. Dalton notes that the good thing about the agribusiness field is that it offers many career opportunities with positions in the private sector and government agencies.
Graduates of the Agribusiness concentration can expect to complete careers as extension workers, agribusiness managers, farm managers, economists, agribusiness consultants and project managers.
For those who wish to learn more about the OMALS program, click on here.
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