Auckland student extols virtues of studying agriculture

Fatima Imran, agri leader of the future.
GERARD HUTCHING/FAIRFAX NZ

Fatima Imran, agri leader of the future.

In front of a group of top agricultural leaders, Auckland school student Fatima Imran dropped the B bomb.

The Mt Albert Grammar student said agricultural studies were regarded as a "bum" subject by her fellow students when she asked them why so few people studied the topic.

"It's a subject you take to get easy credits," she was informed.

"The phrase 'bum subject' wasn't something that I agreed with and the fact that people don't want to take a subject because you can get easy credits was a pathetic excuse," she said at a future leaders' meeting held during a series of events including Central Districts Field Days.

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Picked to represent the views of young people at the presentation, Imran said she was surprised by how much she enjoyed her year 10 studies, which encouraged her to take the subject again the following year.

"Now this was the year I became obsessed with agriculture. I loved everything about it, I find studying about animals, plants, their structure and properties fascinating."

Imran's attitude was infectious as more and more of her fellow students signed up for the course.

Mt Albert Grammar is in the fortunate position of having an 11 hectare farm on its back doorstep and influential backers who have made it easy for students to work on the model farm, where they learn to handle stock and drive tractors.

Agricultural studies teacher Esther Hancock said the ASB owned the land, and leased it to the school for $1 a year. A multi-million dollar agricultural experience centre is being planned, using private funding.

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Hancock described Imran as a student with a strong work ethic and positivity about life.

Imran said she did not come from a farming background. Her father was an accountant, her mother a teacher. The Pakistani family arrived from Dubai 11 years ago.

Of the animals she works with, her favourite are lambs, with the larger animals offering more of a challenge.

She said New Zealand needed more young people to view agriculture and horticulture as careers.

"Right now not a lot of students - or at least girls - see this as their future pathway and I want to change that.

"My challenge to the future leaders of the industry is to create an industry that is one step in front...and has the best quality food in the world," she said.

With mother Shameela close in attendance, Imran visited Massey University to discuss courses she might take and the scholarships on offer.

While she enjoys the farming side of her studies, Imran does not plan to be a farmer, but rather has her eyes on a career in agribusiness, or as a trade official. But that's just for a start.

"I love politics and want to do that later," said the ambitious 16 year old.

 - Stuff

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