Changing Common Perception of Agriculture

I was born in a society where people perceive agriculture as a poor man’s occupation which is done for survival but not as a career. People here believe that agriculture is nothing more than playing with dirt and excreta under hot sun. They argue the point that agriculture is for uneducated people and educated people should be involved in occupations like medical science, engineering, teaching, banking etc. Needless to say, I was also the part of that society.

After I completed my higher secondary level study in natural science, my brother suggested me to join agricultural science. He explained to me that agriculture is not all about only digging earth under hot sun but it is science and art. One has to learn scientific techniques and skills to become a successful agriculturist and needs to know management techniques to be professional. Managing resources and raw materials to produce food is an art. He also told me that every year thousands of natural science students take the agriculture science entrance exam but only a few succeed.

After his explanation, I agreed to take the entrance exam. I passed and subsequently enrolled into the university. Yet, I was still questioning whether or not I had made a mistake in choosing agriculture science as my future career.

 Upon arrival at my new college, I participated in an orientation class. One of my professors explained what agriculture actually is. According to him, agriculture is more advanced than what we see in our kitchen garden on a daily basis; it also involves improvement of plants and animals through genetic manipulation. According to him the problem of food scarcity, a big issue in current world, can be solved only through agriculture. According to him, one can live without doctors; one can live without engineers; but one cannot live without farmers because they are the only producers of food; there is no alternative to agriculture for food production. But our society takes agriculture as a poor man’s occupation due to its subsistence nature. To make agriculture a prestigious occupation, we should maximize income and profit by commercializing agriculture and making it sustainable.

During my four years of undergraduate education, I got the chance to visit many farming operations, both large and small. During those visits, I learned how to make agriculture a prestigious occupation and how it can play a significant role in livelihood improvement. I learned how one can change his/her lifestyle and become a successful entrepreneur by adopting agriculture as a major profession. I found that small farmers started providing better schooling for their children, receive good health services, balanced and healthier diets etc. Some of them started saving money for future security in their old age. Furthermore, I found that large and commercial farmers had extended their business from local to national markets. Many even plan to extend into international markets. In doing so, large commercial farmers are mitigating emigration by providing jobs to many youths who were otherwise planning on going abroad in search of work. Moreover, these businesses have created possibilities for agro-tourism as new source of revenue.

In hope of changing common perception of agriculture, I started sharing with my friends the knowledge I had gained from all these experiences. I told them about commercial farms; I told them about small scale farmers and their stories of success. I showed them some documentaries that I had about those farms. The success stories and documentaries helped my friends to change their perceptions about agriculture. They started to agree that agriculture is a prestigious occupation and began to believe that it can change our way of living.

Thus, this is how I came to respect agriculture and decided to make it my way of life. I might have changed neither my perceptions about agriculture, nor those of my friends, if I had not been involved in the agricultural community. After a few months I am going to be a proud graduate of agriculture science. In the future I have a dream to transform my village into an agricultural village. Now I will never hesitate to say that agriculture is second to none.

[Note: This essay was written for a competition when I was studying B. Sc. Ag. in Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science, Tribhunvan University, Rampur Campus. This essay is based on my experience.]

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