Wednesday, 11 March 2015 12:33

Agri-food course gets enrolments boost

Written by 
Nic Lees, Lincoln University. Nic Lees, Lincoln University.

A Lincoln University agri-food course is experiencing 150% growth in enrolment numbers after only two years on the curriculum.

 The new multi-disciplinary degree course, which takes food production beyond the farmgate and on to the world stage, is one of the success stories at Lincoln University's Te Waihora campus.

The Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing degree (B.AFM) has gone from 20 students in 2014 to 50 students this year.

Developed to meet the demands of an industry with limited new graduates, the course prepares students for a career in the agri-food supply chain.

Senior agribusiness management lecturer Nic Lees says the degree is a unique course in New Zealand "in that it is an integrated course that includes both commerce and science papers".

"The mix of business, food quality and safety, supply chain management and marketing is what differentiates the programme."

Lees, who is the director of Lincoln's Agribusiness and Food Marketing programme, says the degree was developed in conjunction with leading agri-food companies.

"They have been saying that there is a lack of graduates prepared for careers in the agri-food supply chain beyond the farm gate. New Zealand has traditionally been good at producing food but there is a lack of expertise in marketing and value adding."

Australian and New Zealand Produce Marketing Association and agri-food companies such as Zespri, Fonterra, Synlait Milk, ANZCO Foods, Silver Fern Farms, and First Light Foods have all endorsed the degree.

According to Lees, the enrolments include 40 domestic students and 10 international students. Around half are from urban backgrounds and two thirds are female.

Lees expects student numbers to increase even more, with the degree becoming a flagship programme that compliments the Lincoln Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) and Bachelor of Agricultural Science degrees.

Many students, who are choosing the degree may have previously done a generic marketing or business degree or a degree in food and nutrition science, and they see the logic in a degree that combines these, says Lees.

"This is what employers are telling us. They want students who understand the technical aspects of food and things like food safety and nutrition, but also understand the marking and commercial aspect of the food industry."

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