International Student's Guide to Agriculture & Related Subjects in Singapore

The world is counting on agriculture to produce more nutritious food for a booming population, especially the poor. What could be more meaningful than being part of a proven solution to such a critical challenge?
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Agriculture

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O. A children’ song that almost everyone knows, but do you know what can you do when you have a farm like Old MacDonald?

Do Old MacDonald study Agriculture and related subjects too? 

Read on to find out more about studying Agriculture and Related Subjects and what it can offer you.

What is Agriculture about?

Agriculture is the process of producing food, feed, fiber and many other desired products by the cultivation of certain plants and the raising of domesticated animals or livestock.

The important role that comes in your mind when we talk about agriculture will most probably be farmer and the practice of agriculture is known as “farming”.

Farmers are not the only role in this industry, scientists, inventors and others devoted to improving farming methods and implements are also said to be engaged in the industry of agriculture. 

Farming can be categorised into subsistence farming and industrial farming, where the former farms a small area with limited resource inputs and the latter involves large fields and number of animals with massive resource inputs.

Subsistence farming normally produces only enough food to meet the needs of their own family and do not earn extra earnings from grain, produce or livestock like industrial agriculture which is commercial intensive agriculture and attempt to maximize financial income from their operations.

Besides common agricultural products which can be broadly grouped into foods, fibers, fuels and raw materials like rubber, other agricultural production goods include timber, fertilizers, leather and industrial chemicals (starch, sugar, alcohol and resins).

The products mentioned may not be a surprise but do you know that drugs are also a product of agriculture? Both legal and illegal drugs including biopharmaceuticals, tobacco, marijuana, opium and cocaine are agricultural products too!

Despite that, agricultural production accounts for less than five percent of the gross world product, but it does not affect the significance of agricultural products like grain, produce or livestock in our daily lives. Imagine that we don’t have these agricultural products, it’s a torture. 

What are the major fields in Agriculture?

Fields in Argriculture

Agronomy

Agronomy is a branch of agricultural science that deals with the study of crops and the soil in which they grow. Not only that, agronomy also covers the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel and fiber.

It is the application of a combination of sciences like biology, chemistry, economics, ecology, earth science and genetics.

There are several areas in Agronomy, which are plant breeding, biotechnology, soil science, agroecology and theoretical modeling. All these areas of agronomy are equally important in planting crops and related activities. 

Horticulture

Horticulture has a very long history. It  is the cultivation, processing and sale of fruits, nuts, vegetables and ornamental plants.

It can be also known as the art or practice of garden cultivation and management. Unlike other major fields in agriculture, horticulture does not include large-scale crop production or animal husbandry.

The major areas of horticulture include arboriculture, turf management, floriculture, landscape horticulture, etc.

People who study horticulture often work as gardeners, growers, therapists, designers and technical advisors in the food and non-food sectors of horticulture. 

Food Technology

Food technology is a branch of food science that deals with the production processes that make foods. The developments in food technology have contributed greatly to the food supply and have changed our world in the way we eat and live.

In the field of agriculture, the development of food technology has enabled the production of foods to be more efficient and the storage of food to be made more convenient to consumers, and also extending the shelf life of food too.

Food scientists and technologists also improve the safety, nutrition, wholesomeness and availability of food by applying scientific disciplines like chemistry, engineering, microbiology and nutrition. 

Soil Science

Soil Science

Almost every plant and crop grow in soil. Soil Science is the study of soil as a natural resource on the surface of the earth.

In Soil Science, we will study about soil formation, classification and mapping, fertility properties of soils and these properties in relation to the use and management of soils.

In agriculture, the study of soil deals with the study of edaphic conditions as they relate to the production of food and fiber.

Agricultural soil scientists develop methods that will improve the use of soil and increase the production of food and fiber crops.

Soil texture, aeration and porosity, drainage, water content, soil acidity, fertility are some examples of special interest to agricultural soil science. 

Agricultural Economics

Agricultural economics is an applied field of economics concerned with the application of economic theory in optimizing the production and distribution of food and fiber.

It includes a variety of applied areas, having considerable overlap with conventional economics and influences food policy, agricultural policy and environmental policy.

Like conventional economics, it consists of micro and macroeconomics, but are used to solve problems in the specific area of agriculture.

In agricultural economics, some major topics are agricultural environment and natural resources, food and consumer economics, production and farm management, and development economics. 

What are the important skills I need in this field?

Adaptability

Adaptability is one of the important skills that are needed in the field of agriculture as there will be many differences in theories about agronomy which are taught in the classroom and the actual situation in applying them.

Besides that, there will be also many factors that will need to be taken into consideration when applying your knowledge in agronomy.

The industry itself is also quickly changing, meaning that agricultural professionals will have to be able to address the new challenges and obstacles by quickly adopting new methods and technologies. 

Time management 

Time management is a skill that is transferable from industry to industry, especially important when breaking into the agricultural industry.

This is because many plants and crops are seasonal, which will only grow or bloom in a certain period of time in the year.

As an agricultural professional, it is important to factor in things like time and season to ensure that the plants and crops will be able to meet consumer demands when the products are being dependent on seasons.

Beside meeting consumer demands, good time management skills also help labourers and farmers to sustain their businesses during the off seasons. 

Effective communication

Effective communication is another essential skill which is transferable from industry to industry.

Effective communication skills including interpersonal skills are a big deal for most business owners, including farmers, as they will have to communicate with related personals like other farmers, ranchers, agricultural managers, certification agents, laborers, buyers and more.

Effective communications will make sure that everything is progressing on the right track so that the production of crops and plants will not be affected and can be delivered at expected timelines. 

Problem solving

You don’t need to be a superhero to solve a worldwide problem. Being an agricultural professional needs problem solving skills too.

There are many problems that you will expect to encounter when working in the agriculture industry, like weather, pest, disaster and other problems.

It is important to have problem solving skills so that problems can be solved with optimum solutions in minimum amount of time, without risking the probability of affecting crop production and delaying production progress. 

What are the important skills I need in this field

What are the entry requirements and qualifications?

Every institution has different requirements for admission into an agriculture programme and the entry requirements are different for different levels of studies too.

Generally, the requirements to study in Singapore are:

Bachelor’s Degree

  • IGCSE O-Levels or equivalent
  • IELTS - 6.5 overall with 6.5 in Reading and Writing components
  • TOEFL - 580 for paper-based / 92-93 for internet-based

Master’s Degree

  • Completed at least a Bachelor Degree (Honors) in related area
  • TOEFL - minimum of 600 for Paper based test or 100 for internet based test
  • IELTS- minimum 6.5

How long will I be studying in this programme?

The duration of study in agriculture and related subjects programme is different depending on your level of study.

Here are the duration of the programme listed according to their study levels:

Level of Study Duration
Foundation/Diploma 1 - 2  years
Bachelor’s Degree 2 - 4 years
Master’s Degree 1 - 2 years
PhD

2 - 4 years

How much does it cost to study Agriculture?

The cost of studying Agriculture and related subjects in Singapore is different for every institution but the fees are estimated to be around the cost as the table below:

Programme Estimated fees in SGD Estimated fees in USD
Foundation/Diploma S$ 10,000 $7,000
Bachelor’s Degree S$ 23,000 - S$ 65,000 $17,000 - $50,000
Master’s Degree S$ 60,000 - S$ 96,000 $40,000 - $70,000
PhD S$ 30,000 - S$ 60,000 $20,000 - $40,000

What are the job opportunities?

What are the job opportunities

There are many job options available for a graduate with Agriculture  background as the degree could be useful for many jobs like:

  • First-line supervisors
  • Managers of farming, fishing and forestry workers
  • Environmental consultant
  • Forestry officer
  • Fishery officer
  • Aquaculture manager
  • Research and Development executive
  • Food technology officer
  • Quality control officer
  • Agronomist
  • Botanist
  • Forest health specialist
  • Soil Engineer
  • Florist
  • Crop farmers
  • Food Scientist
  • Agriculture engineers

Which recognised universities offer Agriculture and related subjects in Singapore?

Which recognised universities offer Agriculture and related subjects in Singapore?

It might be a hard decision to make when it comes to choosing the best university to pursue your dream in agriculture and related subjects.

Therefore, we have listed some suggestions here: 

  1. National University of Singapore
  2. Nanyang Technological University
  3. PBS Academy
  4. James Cook University
  5. Management Development Institute of Singapore
  6. Singapore Institute of Technology 
  7. Singapore Institute of Management

National University of Singapore

National University of Singapore (NUS) is ranked 23rd in the world and offers single-degree, masters, doctoral and graduate diploma programs conducted via faculties like the Arts and Social Sciences, Business, Computing, etc.

The Faculty of Science of NUS offers a few agricultural related courses like Environmental Biology, Environmental Geography, Food Science and Technology, Life Sciences with specialisation in Environmental Biology, etc

Nanyang Technological University

In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018-2019, Nanyang Technological University had gained a ranking of 51 among other universities around the world with a reputation as one of the leading science, technology and research universities in the world.

The university itself is well known for their eco-friendly building and grass roof to blend in with their garden campus setting and keep the ambient temperature low.

PBS Academy

Once known as Singapore’s Productivity and Standards Board, PSB Academy is known today as “The Future Academy”, with an approach to education that focuses on what really matters: performance in the New Economy.

In 2019, the Academy was conferred “Best Educational Institute - Singapore” by APAC Insider and earned 2 consecutive SBR National Business Awards in 2017/18 in the Education category for outstanding work in the region.

James Cook University

James Cook University Singapore is a branch of James Cook University, based in Townsville, Australia, which is ranked in the top 2% of universities in the world.

The Singapore campus of James Cook University is located at Sims Drive and it provides students with access to a full range of facilities and services to support their learning.

It also provides the opportunity for students to study in Singapore and in Australia and yet still remain as Singapore based students paying their fees in Singapore currency.

Management Development Institute of Singapore

Founded in 1956, Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) offers internationally-accredited course in Business and Management, Engineering, Health and Nursing, etc., in collaboration with renowned universities in the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Apart from the main Singapore campus, MDIS also has international campuses in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, as well as in Johor, Malaysia. 

Singapore Institute of Technology

Singapore Institute of Technology was established in May 2009 by Dr Ng Eng Hen, and is Singapore’s fifth university.

Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) is Singapore’s university of applied learning. SIT's vision is to be a leader in innovative learning by integrating learning, industry and community.

Its mission is to nurture and develop individuals who build on their interests and talents to impact society in meaningful ways.

Singapore Institute of Management

The Singapore Institute of Management is a leading private education and lifelong learning institution in Singapore and it offers a diverse range of education pathways and professional training to their students.

It was founded in 1964 on the initiative of the Economic Development Board to support Singapore’s industrialisation.

In SIM, student’s learning experience is enriched through co-curricular activities, service-learning and boarding programme. 

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