“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela
With an astonishing 26 per cent of the world’s adult population unable to read or write and 98 per cent of these living in developing countries do we really understand the importance of education on a global scale?
Education is a vital resource in order to increase human capital, standard of living and efficiency on a farm.
The population is set to have doubled by 2050 and despite severe financial constraints, the need for education in order to meet higher demands for food security has never been higher.
Currently and in the future the need for farmers to be efficient in producing food in their natural resource base for economic development is vital. Enhanced economic and social development will benefit improved health and nutrition as well as increased productivity and more consideration for the environment. Without education a country will fail to advance so effective teaching is required.
The World Bank financed over £242 million between the 1980s and 1990s in agricultural education and training in developing countries. This has allowed training for rural development in a number of countries and an increase in agricultural productivity and sustainability as well as improving quality of life.
Elementary education is needed for basic training for farming families in developing countries. Endorsing native knowledge and passing education on from farm to farm will help accomplish the food security crisis. This is believed to have notable results and studies have shown by increasing the average education of a farmer in Nigeria by just one year can add value to agricultural production by 24%.
At a basic level agricultural education is limited. General agriculture is not taught in many institutions and in Africa as many as 90% of rural students will not go beyond elementary education. Many argue that these are the people that would benefit most. Ensuring education in youths will aid in safeguarding future food security problems.
In Iceland a new legislation introduced in 1999 meaning that agriculture must be added to the school curriculum has resulted in a considerable shift in the Icelandic economy and social structure.
Impoverished farmers that are lacking education and training tend to resist change without justification and this is why the need for an increase in education is needed.
A vast number of workers in agriculture are women. The reality is that few women receive even the basic education that will give them simple literacy and numeracy skills. In 1995 less than half of females aged 6-11 in Sub-Saharan Africa were in school. This number is slowly falling but still currently two thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women. By increasing the amount of education for women with smallholdings it will ensure a reduction in poverty in developing countries. A study carried out by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations shows that the enrollment of women into higher level education in African countries has increased from 15% to 25% over a 10 year period. This increase could result in a yield increase of 20%. The poster below from UN Women reveals some shocking statistics highlighting the importance of both women in agriculture, and education in women.
Yield is not the only benefiting factor- with more advanced education the amount of pesticide related illnesses among farmers will decrease. Pesticide poisoning is particularly common in developing countries where education in sprays is less likely to be given.
A lessened impact on the environment is also evident because farmers are using chemicals more efficiently.
Education varies widely throughout the world. For example in 1996 there were 1698 enrolments into agricultural institutes per 100000 inhabitants in Egypt compared to just 16 in 100000 in Mozambique. These numbers are directly related to economic development and low numbers of students typically represent countries where the average annual income is below £300 per year.
Education is regarded as one of the most valuable forms of human capital. The need for further investment in global education in agriculture is vital for the future. These opportunities will not only assist poor farmers in increasing productivity but higher education will aid in further development in agricultural technology such as genetic engineering and precision farming. Without dedicated, well educated people global agriculture will fail to develop to the level that is required in order to overcome food security challenges.
There are many charities out there which help to give people in poverty a future through the means of education and support. These include Unicef, Send A Cow, Heifer International, Farm4Life and Farm Africa.
If you are feeling extra enthusiastic why not consider taking part in Ride London 100 and help raise money for lasting rural prosperity in Africa: http://www.farmafrica.org/runs-and-marathons/ridelondon-100
NB: Images are not my own.