Bundaberg set to grow fresh crop of scientists to support State's $18.7 billion food industry
Published on 02 September, 2011
Government figures estimate Queensland's food value chain is worth $18.7 billion each year and employs more than a quarter of a million people.
Now Bundaberg is ready to strengthen its role as an agricultural training precinct, as the base for a specialised science degree in ‘Agricultural and Food Science'.
CQUniversity will offer this fresh science specialisation from next year, along with new ‘Ecology and Conservation Biology' and ‘Analytical and Molecular Science' streams, which are also geared to the needs of regional communities.
These new options will be available on campus and by supported distance delivery, giving students flexibility in how they study.
Professor of Horticultural Science Phil Brown says Bundaberg is the ideal location to base an Agricultural and Food Science program as the region produces horticultural and sugar cane crops worth well over half a billion dollars each year.
"Food production is also one of the biggest employers in the region. Students will have the opportunity to undertake work integrated learning, taking advantage of our location in a major production centre to gain first hand knowledge of the industry," Professor Brown says.
"Queensland needs more graduates to support its agricultural and food industries. Ensuring the food industry in Queensland continues to grow will require innovative people able to develop and implement new practices that increase productivity and profitability along the food supply chain while maintaining or improving our soils, water supplies and natural environment.
"Science will provide many of the answers to the challenges of developing and expanding sustainable food supply systems in a changing climate and in a global marketplace where population and demand for food are rising rapidly."
Professor Brown says job prospects for graduates in the agricultural and food science area are excellent.
A 2010 national survey found over 5000 jobs per year were advertised in Australia where university qualifications in agriculture were desirable, yet Australian universities currently produce less than 800 graduates per year with agricultural science and agribusiness qualifications.
"Bundaberg is fast becoming a hub for agricultural skills training and education in Queensland," Professor Brown says.
"The CQUniversity degree adds a new dimension to an already impressive set of rural education and skills programs delivered in the Bundaberg region at school, college, TAFE and grower group levels."
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) Horticulture and Forestry Science General Manager, Michael Kennedy said he was pleased to see this exciting outcome eventuate from DEEDI's joint investment with CQUniversity in the professorial appointment of Professor Phil Brown.
"This course is about bringing on a new generation of skilled people into the workforce to grow the agriculture and food industries, and DEEDI is proud to be part of its development," he said.
DEEDI's Agri-Science Queensland research team will continue to work closely with CQUniversity to help shape the future of agriculture and food science in the Bundaberg region.
Details about the new science specialisations are available via 13CQUni (13 27 86).