Study sees shortage of agriculture scientists

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, March 19, 2014 - Too few scientists are being trained in agriculture areas of science, according to a study released by the Coalition for a Sustainable Agriculture Workforce (CSAW).

Globally Positioned Agriculture

While the study found that life-sciences and agricultural industry companies expect to increase hiring of trained scientists over the next several years, the CSAW said there is “growing concern” they won't be able to find suitable candidates.

“This challenge is all the more critical due to the need to double the global food supply to meet the needs of a growing population,” the coalition said in a news release. “The agriculture field is also challenged with limited water and arable land, climate variation, and lower budgets for research.”

According to the study, agriculture industry and life-sciences companies expect to hire more than 1,000 scientist-level employees through 2015, or about 13 percent of their current agricultural scientist workforce. The largest numbers of scientists, 84 percent of the total, are needed in the disciplines of plant sciences, plant breeding/genetics, and plant protection. Nearly half of those hired will need doctoral degrees.

“These preliminary data suggest there may be not only long-term skills and training issues, but also very near-term issues to hire the staff needed for the work required,” CSAW said.

The coalition was organized by a consortium of agribusiness companies and scientific societies to promote the education and training of future generations of the agricultural workforce. Members include Cargill Inc., Kellogg Co., Monsanto Co. and Bayer Crop Science.

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