Ethiopia is an agrarian country where agriculture contributes about 40% to the gross domestic product (GDP), employs more than 80% of the labour force, accounts for about 90% of the foreign exchange earnings, and provides livelihood to over 90% of the population. The country’s future development is believed to continue being heavily dependent on the efficient and effective mobilization and utilization of agricultural resources which are scarce in availability and have alternative uses. In spite of the salient roles that agriculture sector plays in the national economy and the huge potential the country has for agricultural development, the performance of the sector is not yet satisfactory. The economy is very susceptible to shocks and fails usually to feed its growing population even under normal circumstances. The rural economy fails to be an area of gainful employment.
As a result of the very low productivity of the sector, its roles in the formation of capital, supply of raw materials to industries, generation of foreign currency, ensuring food security and offering of fertile market to local produces and services remain underplayed. In fact, about 29% of the populations are below the nationally defined poverty line with more severity in rural areas. However, in recent years some progresses are seen in the productivity of the sector as a result of various efforts made to use productive technologies and the development of private agricultural enterprises.
The Ethiopian government has adopted an economic policy in 1992 and formulated a long term economic development strategy, known as Agricultural Development Led Industrialization (ADLI) to transform the centrally controlled economy. Ethiopia has developed a sustainable development and poverty reduction strategy program (SDPR) in 2002 followed by Plan for Accelerated and Sustainable Development to End Poverty (PASDEP) 2005/06A2010/11 and Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) 2010/11A2014/15.
In all strategies the government has identified the priority areas as agricultural and rural development, infrastructural development and capacity building. The education sector is considered as one of the priority areas of intervention under the poverty reduction strategy. Education is taken as a prerequisite for building a food A secure world through producing informed, effective and efficient human resource equipped with suitable knowledge, skill and attitude to build and manage sustainable economy. To this end, the Ethiopian government has been exerting maximum effort to address the problem of capacity building through expanding public universities and colleges. Private higher education institutions have also been opened in a very few years to produce different professionals at various levels.
The role of the private sector has shown a significant leap in reply to the favorable investment policy and various external opportunities offered through the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the bilateral agreements the government entered with many countries. In all cases, agriculture has remained a priority area of investment. In line with this, the demand for qualified personnel in various fields steadily rises in the labor market. In particular, the currently flourishing agricultural enterprise, the banks, micro finance institutions, cooperative societies and farmers unions, the agro-industries, input suppliers and marketers of agricultural products at home or abroad, the research institutes and training institutions have faced problems of qualified human power from local markets. Some have imported staff from other countries at very high cost just to fill the gap.
1.2 Rationale of the program
Due to globalization, individuals in the world now are opting for food and fiber from countries having comparative advantage of production. To make use of this opportunity the country has to be competent in the global market by producing competent human resource in the areas of optimizing scarce resource use, planning profitable projects which accelerate the pace of economic growth. Hence, producing capable, competent graduates in the field of Agricultural Economics is instrumental.
The current poverty reduction effort and promotion of sustainable development in Ethiopia demand competent and committed professionals in Agricultural Economics. In reply to this demand, the universities developed a curriculum to contribute its share to the socio-economic development of the country. To materialize the need of the labour market it is badly needed to have modularized: task oriented, student centred and competency based curriculum. In response to this, in the academic year 2011/2012 the MoE came up with the notion of implementing a modularized and nationally harmonized curriculum by different universities.
Accordingly, the conventional curricula have been modified to include the students’ workload through awarding ECTS instead of credit hours, which only show the instructors workload.
1.3 Program Objectives
The overall goal of the B.Sc. degree program is to produce competent, skilled and committed agricultural economics professionals capable of bringing change in the agricultural economy.
The specific objectives of this academic program are to:
- Produce knowledgeable graduates in the field of Agricultural Economics who can assist efficient and sustainable use of the societies’ scarce resources;
- Produce committed, motivated, socially accountable and qualified Agricultural Economists who undertake problem solving, socio economic researches in the field;
- Engage in community services, and
- Provide consultancy and advisory services governmental and/or non A governmental organizations
In order to effectively and efficiently run the Agricultural Economics program, the human and physical resources needed are described as follows.
1.5 Professional Profile
The Agricultural Economics graduates are expected to involve in different tasks in the Agricultural and related sectors which demand their expertise. The professional profile of Agricultural Economics includes the ability to:
- Design, implement and evaluate agricultural development programs and projects;
- Enhance sustainable agricultural development through effective and efficient mobilization and utilization of the scarce resources;
- Undertake feasibility studies to advise investors, financial institutions, agriculture and allied sectors;
- Undertake research and advise policy makers;
- Develop plans and strategies to enhance agricultural development;
- Establish and run their own business;
- Advocate commercial agriculture, sustainable farming system and rural institutions for the sustainable development of the country;
- Promote national and international agricultural trade;
- Train and advise small scale farmers and agricultural enterprises; and
- Teach at HEIs and technical and vocational training institutions.
1.6 Graduate Profile
The intended graduate of Agricultural Economics is, in general, expected to develop economic information on farm production methods and technologies; structure and efficiency of the agriculture food fiber system; linkages of production with processing, distribution and final consumer demand; linkages between agriculture and the environment; and agricultural trade and policy to help farmers, agribusiness and consumers, decision maker; and prepare dynamic careers in business, natural resources, and the environment & economics interaction.
The curriculum has been designed in a way that combines economics and agricultural fundamentals with insights into the dynamic social, technological and environmental forces that shape production and marketing decisions.
After successful completion of the training, the graduates are expected to gain knowledge skills and attitude that enable them to:
- Participate in design, implementation and evaluation of agricultural development projects;
- Apply effective and efficient resource utilization theories and practices for sustainable agricultural development;
- Involve in feasibility studies and advise investors, financial institutions, agriculture and allied sectors;
- Assist researchers and policy makers in agricultural production and productivity; marketing and sustainable use of natural resource and environment;
- Establish and operate their own business;
- Train and advise small scale farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs;
- Serve as planners in agricultural offices;
- Manage small scale farms and agricultural enterprises;
- Work as Extension team member/leader, Market expert and Loan officer; and
- Assist teaching at HEIs, and technical and vocational training institutions.
1.7 Program Profile
1.7.1 Admission Requirements
Students admitted directly from secondary school are required to meet the national higher education enrolment criteria of that year. Students placed to the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences by Ministry of Education (MoE) can join the program. Placement of students to the program abides to the MoE affirmative regulation. Others like re-admission and advance standing shall be treated according to the academic rules and regulations of the universities.
1.7.2 Duration of the Program
A three-year academic time is required to acquire a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Agricultural Economics. Each academic year further divided into two semesters.
1.7.3 Mode of Delivery
Since the program comprises of different modules which will be delivered in Parallel and semester wise, these modes of delivery will be used in the program.
1.7.4 Methods of Teaching
As long as the curriculum is prepared in a student-centered way, the method of teaching will be greatly an active learning (student centered).
1.7.5 Assessment and Evaluation Mechanisms
For the program, the assessment and evaluation mechanisms will be both continuous assessment and summative. The continuous assessment will account for 60% which must include at least 5 different assessment techniques. The final exam (summative assessment) will accounts for 40%.