How to Become a Successful Agricultural Consultant

Agricultural consultant working on a farm 1

Agriculture, food, and food produce are some of the most important discoveries on our planet. Being an essential sector, it has witnessed consistent growth and development. Today, you will find experts from Health Sciences, Engineering and ICT, carrying out Agricultural projects by adapting relevant skills from their different fields. The sector has greatly evolved in recent times and among its numerous specializations, one very interesting and promising career path is becoming an Agricultural Consultant.

What is Agricultural Consultancy?

Agricultural consultancy is designed to support established and growing farmers, as well as anyone in the agricultural business. It helps to discover the farming needs and progress rate of a specific region, developing its agricultural sector in the process. So who facilitates all these? Well, you guessed right. An Agricultural Consultant brings all the processes to life. Read on to learn about them.

Who is an Agricultural Consultant?

An Agricultural Consultant is an expert who works as a research specialist or an agricultural scientist. He/she has sufficient knowledge and understanding of the agricultural industry.

On many occasions, Agricultural Consultants set up meetings with clients to determine the possibilities in their agricultural businesses. They evaluate a situation and provide solutions to problems based on data and information they have collected. They work closely with their clients to provide solutions to problems and then, present those solutions to their clients.

An Agricultural consultant is an expert adviser and professional problem-solver, mostly employed by businesses in the agricultural sector. He/she advises on everything involving the ownership and occupation of land and rural businesses.

Agricultural Consultant working on a farm

Responsibilities of an Agricultural Consultant.

Research is a big part of Agricultural Consultancy. As a consultant, it is important to know the latest and relevant developments in the agricultural sector.  Your responsibilities will include providing insights on technical and business matters in areas such as Agronomy, Livestock, Nutrition, Waste Management, Environment, and Conservation.

You will also:

  • Pay visits to clients so you can evaluate and identify the business or technical issues.
  • Aid clients in the areas of business planning, government grant applications, legal advice, and new business opportunities.
  • Gather data, analyze them, and create reports that measure the performance of the agricultural enterprise.
  • Perform routine checks on the business and operating plans to determine where they are lacking so that you can improve them.
  • Organize field tests and trials to determine the solutions that the clients have.
  • Organize training, demonstrations, and put up presentations for clients, partners, and other stakeholders.
  • Write advisory leaflets, technical notes and possibly press releases and articles.
  • Promote your services to get new clients as well as maintain a good relationship with existing ones.
  • Perform administrative tasks like managing budgets and accounts, and updating the business information and preparing reports.

Skills of an Agricultural Consultant

  • To become a successful Agricultural Consultant, you must have the practical experience and extensive knowledge of farm management.
  • You must have excellent communication skills (written and spoken). This helps to establish and maintain relationships with clients.
  • Agricultural Consultants must possess persuasive skills to influence clients’ decisions.
  • Good business acumen is also important if you are to become an Agricultural Consultant. You must have marketing, advisory, and negotiation skills to help you create new business opportunities and build your client base.
  • As an Agricultural Consultant, you must have technical and analytical abilities, as well as the skills to explain your findings clearly.
  • You will need excellent organisational and time management skills. This includes attention to details and record-keeping accuracy.
  • Agricultural Consultants usually have financial skills for commercial awareness and budget management.
  • It is ideal to be a team player as well as an individual that can work without supervision.

Educational Requirements for Aspiring Agricultural Consultants

For a career in Agricultural Consultancy, you need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, agricultural engineering, or agricultural science. However, it is preferable to have a master’s degree.  This is because the career path requires a lot of knowledge and experience. Below are some top-rated schools where you can enrol for bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.

  1. The Royal Agricultural University in the United Kingdom: Offers a BSc (Hons) Agriculture The program is taught through a series of lectures, seminars and practical classes at nearby farms, agribusiness enterprises and RAU laboratories. It is a 3-year full-time program. The tuition for International Students is £10,200 yearly. 93% of RAU graduates are in employment or further study six months after graduation.
  2. The University of Debrecen in Hungary: Offers a Food Engineering BSc This program trains professionals who can operate, supervise, and develop food processing technologies. Studies include the physical, chemical and biological fundamentals of engineering with special emphasis on food quality and safety-related issues. In addition to becoming acquainted with operations and technological processes, students also learn economic, management and analytical processes. The duration of the program is 7 semesters. The tuition is $6,500.
  3. The Western Sydney University: Offers a Bachelor of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security The program is designed to help you explore the interconnections between food security, agriculture and the environment, social stability, health, plants and animals, and the sustainable use of resources. It merges topics on agriculture, food and health to assist students in designing solutions for international development, community education and the urban-rural interface. The tuition for international students is AUD 30,480. There is a full-time option for 3 years and a part-time option for 6 years.

Postgraduate Options for an Agricultural Consultant

Master of Agribusiness at Kansas State University Global Campus

This program is designed for mid-level agribusiness managers who need to make informed decisions based on an understanding of current agribusiness issues. It focuses on food, animal health, and agribusiness management. The delivery has three options – campus and online combined, campus only, and online. The duration is 30 months with a tuition of $32,175.

MSc in Agricultural Production at the University of Illinois

The program is designed to provide advanced knowledge in agricultural science and relevant real-world business skills. It recognises that companies demand not only scientific knowledge but also the ability to transform that knowledge into meaningful products and services. The duration of the program is 18 months full-time, on campus. The tuition is $48,800.

MSc in Agribusiness Management at Rome Business School

This program is designed to teach students the characteristics of the agri-food market and the roles that farmers, industrialists, and their representatives play in organizations. As a student, you will learn how to develop a comprehensive business plan for agri-food corporations. The tuition is EUR 5,500. It is a part-time program spanning 12 months.

Jars containing Plants in an Agricultural Consultation Lab

Job Outlook and Stages of Career Development for Agricultural Consultants

Generally, consulting has become one of the fastest-growing occupations, prompting consultants to keep building their skills and capacity to suit the needs of clients. As seen in other sectors, the need for consultants will also continue to increase in agriculture.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 1% job growth (2018-2028) for Agricultural Workers including Agricultural Consultants.

Stages of Career Development

Agricultural consultants often bring substantial experience with them into this career path. Most times, they start with a research job and continue to move upwards from there. They are usually Agricultural Scientists and have experience working for a corporation in the private or public sector. The career growth of an Agricultural Consultant is heavily dependent on the organisation they work for.

Typical Employers of an Agricultural Consultant

Every agricultural firm needs a consultant. However, below are some notable employers.

  • Agricultural development consultancies like ADAS
  • Relevant government organizations
  • Farm management consultancy firms
  • Farmers, growers, landowners and farming co-operatives
  • Rural property consultancies.
  • Commercial agri-consultancies
  • Banks
  • Relevant government departments
  • Charities, environmental and conservation bodies like National Trust
  • Farming cooperatives.

Consultancy Firms in Nigeria

  1. Noble Global Resources– this is a multifunctional firm with its head office in Abuja. They are focused on improving farm profits while maintaining good service delivery of sustainable agricultural projects evident in modern farming businesses. They specialise in growing organically improved farm produce that meets the required fresh quality standards, packaging, and distribution.
  2. Pacific Holdings Limited– this is a diversified conglomerate in Lagos, Nigeria with a reputation for ethical and progressive business practices. The conglomerate spreads into Civil Engineering, Energy & Power, Manufacturing, Agriculture, Trading, Freight Services, Gas, Trading, and Real Estate. Pacific Farms Limited is one of the divisions of Pacific Holdings Limited. It offers agricultural development programmes on agro-fishery / food and environment.

Salary of Agricultural Consultants

  • According to Glassdoor, the average salary for an Agricultural Consultant in the United States of America is $77,368.
  • Planitplus states that the entry-level Agricultural Consultants in the United Kingdom earn between £20,000 to £27,000 a year. While mid-level Agricultural Consultants tend to have their salaries between £27,000 and £40,000 a year. Senior-level consultants with experience can earn up to £50,000 or more a year.
  • According to Nuevoo, the average salary of Agricultural Consultants in Canada is $49,335 yearly.

Careers Similar to Agricultural Consultancy

Farm Manager: A Farm Manager usually works with animal production, dairy, or crop production enterprises. However, it is not impossible to find some farm Managers working with all three at the same time. As a Farm Manager, you will handle finances and production, maintain farm progress within the stipulated budget. You will also perform routine evaluations to check for quality, whether livestock or crops. Sound knowledge of pests as well as diseases that affect them is also very important. Farm Managers provide treatment for diseases, pests, and maintain health and safety standards of farms.

Soil Scientist: Soil Scientists gather, interpret, and evaluate information about the chemistry, biology and physics of soil. With this analysis, they give expert advice on agricultural production, climate change, environmental quality, human health, and so on. A Soil Scientist produces maps of soil types and their distribution. Their knowledge spans though different aspects of soil science, including fundamentals such as the biological, chemical, and physical properties of soils.

Animal Nutritionist: An Animal Nutritionist promotes a better understanding of proper diets on the health, wellbeing, and productivity of animals. As an Animal Nutritionist, you will give recommendations on animal nutrition and design, and evaluate the diets of the animals in question. You will also assist in the production of food for zoo animals and pets and may advise on issues related to feeding them. Some animal nutritionists specialise in one class of animals.

Agricultural Consultant on a farm

Professional Certifications for Agricultural Consultants

Certified Agricultural Consultant (CAC)

To obtain the CAC certification, you must first be a member of the American Society of Agricultural Consultants (ASAC). After joining, you can then work towards it by participating in a rigorous program designed by the organisation to uphold and ensure standards in the quality of service provided by its members. The certification shows that the holder knows the fundamental tools for the delivery of technical expertise and the management of consulting businesses. Besides, it demonstrates that the holder has enhanced the skills needed for success in professional agricultural consulting. Members of ASAC can network with industry leaders. They have access to the latest information and technologies. Check out other requirements for this certification on the ASAC website.

Accredited Agricultural Consultant from ASFMRA: This certification demonstrates that the holder can deliver consulting services expertly and can manage a consulting business. The certification proves that holders have set themselves apart from the competition by earning the AAC designation. The American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisals (ASFMRA) is generally known to ensure that consulting services are delivered with the highest standards, integrity and quality.

If you need further advice on how you can pursue a successful career in Agricultural Consultancy, send me an email right away.

 

 

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