I got into agriculture because I could not get into medical college. Many other students are in the agriculture career for the same reason. Starting our degrees, we are told that Pakistan is an agricultural country and that 70% of its income comes from agriculture. Considering how important it is we supposed that it is a good career. However, very soon we realize that agri. students do not fit anywhere in the agricultural country. The only jobs that most of us have are in the pesticide industry (as a marketer). Consequently, many of you stay unemployed even after doing MS in agriculture and earn through home tuitions. The main cause of this unemployment is the gap that exists between our syllabus and the real world.

The problem

During the bachelor’s, we are taught the amount of seed needed for each crop and the amount of pesticides to use. Farmers know more about this kind of information so why do not we become a farmer. Our job is not to remember production technologies and make ratta of how much seed is needed. Our job is to understand agriculture as a career, what are the advancements and how can we help it grow as a field. It is not only the art of growing crops but the science of cultivating as well. The definition taught by Prof. Adnan Zahid is somehow forgotten in the length of the curriculum. Science comes from critical thinking and problem-solving. We might not remember how many kilograms of seed is needed per hectare. But, we should be able to find out the amount of seeds required for each crop that is only one google away.

Enough with the problems. You probably know about problems better than I do. So let’s talk about solutions: how can you succeed in agriculture? The curriculum is not changing, professors are not changing and neither is the system. What can you do today to become successful tomorrow? Here are 3 tips that will almost guarantee your success and make you financially independent. Yes, even in this economy under Imran Khan.

1. Get advanced skills

Advanced skills cannot be the concentration of pesticides needed to apply to control a pest. They are the skills in demand right now, that everybody is looking for. Two such skills are; bioinformatics and molecular biology. In the past, we did not have enough data. Now we have much more data but fewer people who can analyze it. Therefore, bioinformatics, including programming is the most in-demand skill. Machine learning is adding another dimension to agriculture. Why remember if a machine can make decisions about when to irrigate and when to fertigate, even better than humans. The other interesting skill is molecular biology which is studying the genes, proteins RNA and other molecules present within the body (of us or plants). In the future, a huge deal of work will be focused on editing genes and genomes to get desirable characters. How to manipulate genes to increase the yield will be the most important concern in agriculture.

2. Do not limit yourself to your university (or IAGS)

In the past, the only way to learn something was to go to a university and learn it physically. I remember the time when we used to go to the computer lab to do simple assignments in the MS word because we did not have our computer. Thanks to the IT revolution, everyone has access to the internet and computer. Learning has become accessible to everyone. You do not have to go anywhere to learn something. Want to learn bioinformatics, go online and learn from the best bioinformaticians. Want to learn molecular biology, professors from MIT and Harvard can come to teach you in your room. No more excuses about professors do not teach well. Famous websites to learn skills are Coursera and EDx.

3. Start Freelancing

Do not have jobs in Pakistan? Why restrict yourself to jobs in Pakistan. You can work anywhere in the world while sitting in your room. Yes, freelancing platforms give you access to online mandi of skills where you can work for others and get paid for your work. In agriculture, freelancing was not common but thanks to COVID, things have speeded up. More and more people are looking for agrarians, horticulturists and others. There are many jobs that we can do; writers, data analyzers, personal assistants to name a few. Do not have the essential skills required to freelance? No problem, learn them online. Read: my experience with freelancing: if I can do it you can do it too.

Best wishes!

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