PIEFA: Students have little idea about agriculture

PIEFA report finds a third of students don't know that yogurt comes from a cow

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Do your kids know how their food and fibre is produced? Photo: Shutterstock

Do your kids know how their food and fibre is produced? Photo: Shutterstock

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An alarming report has found a third of students don't know yoghurt comes from a cow or their denim jeans come from a cotton plant.

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The latest Food, Fibre and Our Future report from the Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia was released earlier this week, and it has the leading body for agriculture, forestry and fisheries worried.

The alarming report found that a third of students don't know yoghurt comes from a cow or their denim jeans come from a cotton plant.

PIEFA's chief executive officer Luciano Mesiti says the latest report is concerning.

"We've been working with educators right across the country since a similar report commissioned by PIEFA was released in 2011 and we can see some changes in the education curriculum to highlight agriculture and its importance to human life," Mr Mesiti said.

It's disappointing that over 60 per cent of students don't know that cotton is used to make jeans and it is derived from the cotton plant, with many thinking it's made from a nonnatural petrochemical. - Luciano Mesiti

PIEFA say while it's encouraging that students' knowledge about industries such as eggs, dairy, fruit and vegetables have improved, there is still a lack of apathy for other important industries such as cotton, aquaculture and grains.

"The Food, Fibre and Our Future 2020 Report shows there is a long way to go for the next generations to appreciate how important agriculture is to have a healthy and affordable life," Mr Mesiti said.

This comes after the Australian government reduced the cost of agriculture-related courses by 62 per cent in June, in an attempt to encourage students to take up a career in agriculture.

"It's important that we attract highly skilled people to the agriculture profession so we can continue to grow our primary industries that not only feed and clothe us, but provide valuable export income for our nation," Mr Mesiti said.

"We need to produce food and fibre more efficiently for our societal needs, particularly with a changing and more challenging environment under climate change projections.

"It's important students completing their secondary education see primary industries as a fruitful career and look towards studies in the various food and fibre fields.

"There is currently a shortage of skilled people in agriculture and careers in the field are rewarding and provide a real benefit to society."

The findings from the report will now be taken back to government and education departments to see if there can be further changes to curriculum around Australia.

You can read the full report here.

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