The University College Dublin‘s (UCD) School of Agriculture and Food Science is hosting a large exhibition space in the centre of the main exhibit area at the National Ploughing Championships.

The school exhibit showcases the exciting range of undergraduate and graduate taught programmes available and provided visitors with an overview of research taking place across the four main pillars within the school; agriculture; food science and nutrition; agri-environmental sciences and the rural economy.

The UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science is the only academic institution in Ireland that delivers education and research on the complete food chain from initial on farm production through processing to final consumption by the consumer.

The school supports the agri-food industry in Ireland by educating students to become industry leaders and by conducting world class research. Research, training and innovation are key drivers of sustainability and growth in this industry, and UCD plays a central role in effecting this.

AgriLand spoke to Dr James Breen, lecturer in Food Supply Chain Management, about the changing landscape of agricultural academia and the faculty has noticed particular interest in the food and agri-business management.

Currently, the up to 30 students graduate from the course each year and this figure has remained relatively steady for the past few years.

When asked on the typical background of his students Breen said: “Up to two thirds would come from a rural background and this point to a keen interest from non-farming students, as far as our courses are concerned there is no disadvantage to a student who has no experience of farming.”

The faculty holds regular Farm Visits and a Professional Work Experience Programme so all students get up to speed.  Agribusiness particularly in relation to food production and supply is attracting a growing number of students. “With regards to employment many of our students will secure roles in the likes of Gain Feeds, Kepak and Glanbia,” said Breen.

In September 2014 UCD, in conjunction with the Smurfit Business School, will launch a Masters in Food Business Strategy to cater for the growing demand for expertise in the agri-business sphere.

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