One thousand and eleven students have enrolled in further level courses in agriculture and horticulture in Teagasc colleges this autumn, with 283 students also studying higher level Teagasc courses linked to Institutes of Technology and Universities. This brings the total number of students studying on Teagasc run courses to 3,300.
Around 250 extra places were made available in agriculture and horticulture colleges this year, through a range of measures introduced to meet the growing demand. Six new teachers were recruited on contract, six advisory staff were redeployed into the colleges to teach certain modules, and teacher /student ratios have been increased. A mechanism of contracting out the teaching of certain modules/skills is also being pursued.
Additional courses are being provided through the advisory service. An additional 130 students will attend courses delivered through the Teagasc regional education centres. A full time ACA course is being provided in Longford with four additional part-time courses taking place around the country.
Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships in Athy, County Kildare, Dr Tom Kelly, Director of Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc said; “the growing interest among young people to study agriculture and horticulture reflects the solid prospects for the agriculture sector into the future. The Food Harvest 2020 report has outlined targets for the industry to grow, and having a young well educated new generation of farmers is central to achieving those ambitions.”
Commenting on the current year for farmers, Dr Kelly said; “Dairy, beef, sheep and tillage farmers have all had a good year to date in 2011. Buoyancy in milk and meat markets has helped to offset upward cost pressures in fuel and fertiliser prices, while cereal yields on tillage farms have been good this harvest. ” Looking ahead, he advised dairy farmers to closely monitor their milk production with their individual quota to avoid a super levy situation next spring.