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In-Depth Jobs

Issue no 47, 19-25 February 2022

Education And Career Opportunities In Agriculture

Arti S

Despite making remarkable progress in industrialization, India continues to be an agrarian economy and a top producer and exporter of several agricultural commodities. The increased government support, growing AgriTech providers, start-up ecosystem and rising digital adoption among rural farming population is providing a strong transformation impetus to the Indian agriculture sector. The transformation of the agriculture sector also encompasses the plethora of new employment and entrepreneurial opportunities the sector has to offer. If agriculture interests you as a subject, you can explore many career opportunities in the agriculture field, beyond being a farmer. For this, you need to have an academic foundation with agriculture as a core.

Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) can be pursued after completing 10+2 with science background. Syllabus of this course covers topics like classification of crops, principles of crop production, soil preparation, seed and sowing, post sowing-tillage, water/ irrigation/ nutrient management, plant protection measures, harvesting, threshing and storage, crop sequencing, weather and weather forecasting, calculation of fertilizer requirement, fundamentals of soil science, elements of genetics, horticulture, systems of irrigation, agricultural meteorology, rural/ educational sociology, working of basic rural institutions, statistics and mathematics, physical education, natural resources and farm management, plant biochemistry, extension education and rural management, crop physiology, basics of microbiology/ entomology, use of computers in agriculture, principles of plant breeding, field crops, vegetable crop production, principles and methods of soil and water conservation, objectives and uses of remote sensing, farm power and machinery, agricultural marketing, cooperatives, plant pathology, methods of insects and pests management, livestock production and management, silviculture, agro-forestry, weed management, spices, aromatic and medicinal plants, animal nutrition, soil fertility, crop diseases and their management, environmental science and agro economy, milk production and processing, plant biotechnology, post-harvest management of fruits and vegetables, crop diseases and management, seed technology, farming systems and sustainable agriculture, water shed management, agriculture finance, social-forestry etc.

Candidates have option to go for a general B.Sc. (Agriculture) course or take up a course which specializes in a particular branch of agriculture or allied subjects like Horticulture, Forestry, Sericulture and Agronomy among others.

Master of Science (Agriculture) is more specialized and options include Agricultural Chemistry/Physics, Aquaculture Agronomy, Entomology, Extension Education, Horticulture, Forestry Nematology, Plant Physiology, Pathology, Plant Breeding and Genetics, Soil Science etc. For pursuing a particular specialization, candidates need to check if they have requisite qualification at their graduation level. To illustrate M.Sc. (Ag) in Plant Physiology at Dr Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University, Pusa is open to only those whose qualification is simple B.Sc. (Ag) or B.Sc. (Ag) with Horticulture. Thus someone having B.Sc. (Ag) Forestry would not be considered eligible.

 A large number of candidates after their M.Sc. (Ag) or similar qualification prefer to enroll for research as there are immense number of opportunities for research in agriculture and allied subjects.

Agricultural Economics: Agri-cultural Economics is a branch of Economics in which we apply principles of economics to agriculture. It is a social science that deals with how producers, consumers, and societies use scarce and natural resources in the production, processing, marketing, and consumption of food and related products. Agricultural economics has both micro-economic and macro-economic dimensions. At the micro level, it is concerned with issues related to resource use in the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of products in food and other agriculture produce. Agricultural economists involved at the macro level are interested in how agriculture and agribusinesses affect domestic and world economies and how the events taking place in other sectors affect these and vice versa. For students of Master Degree in Economics, it is possible to choose specialization in agricultural economics. At the same time, courses such as M.A. or M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics/ Agricultural Statistics are also available. Bengaluru based Dr Ambedkar School of Economics and many others have Agricultural Economics as an elective paper.

Agricultural Engineering: This stream of academics applies engineering principles to find solutions in agriculture and agriculture related work. Agricultural engineers design and develop equipments and machinery and also work on soil and water conservation, irrigation and water drainage systems etc. They contribute in making farming activities easier, more productive and profitable. B.Tech in Agricultural Engineering may be pursued after 10+2. Those who want to pursue M.Tech in Agricultural Engineering may choose specializations like Farm Machinery & Power Engineering, Soil & Water Engineering, Processing & Food Engineering etc.

Agri-Business Management: Introduction of courses related to Agricultural Management and Agri-Business Management is relatively a new development. In about the last two decades, management education in the country has gained much popularity. Considering the role and importance of agriculture in our country, it is heartening to see availability of courses in management of business related to agriculture. In some cases, graduates from any discipline can find admission in such courses otherwise one needs to be a graduate in agriculture or in related subjects to pursue a postgraduate course in AgriBusiness Management. Very few opportunities are available to study Agri-Business Management at undergraduate level one of which is B.Sc. (Agribusiness Management) at Tamilnadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore.

Where to Study?

 India has one of the best educational infrastructure when it comes to education in different disciplines related to agriculture. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) was established as the apex body for co-ordinating, guiding and managing research education and research in agriculture in our country. There are 71 agricultural universities and 111 ICARaffiliated institutes spread across the country. This is one of the largest national agricultural education and research systems in the world. The ICAR has played a pioneering role in ushering Green Revolution. All agricultural universities offer B.Sc., M.Sc., B.Tech., M.Tech. and Ph.D in Agriculture (and its branches). Courses in Agricultural Economics/Statistics as well as Agri-Business Management are available with only some of the agricultural universities.

Top Universities for Agriculture

·         G B Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar

·         Agricultural University, Kota  

·         Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat

·         Kerala Agricultural University, Thrissur

·         Uttar Bang Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Cooch Bihar

·          University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru

·         Banda University of Agriculture and Technology, Uttar Pradesh

·         Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar

·         Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Srinagar

·         Acharya N.G.Ranga Agricultural University, Guntur

·         Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Raipur

·         Orissa University of Agricultural and Technology, Bhubaneshwar

·         Anand Agricultural University, Gujarat

·         Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology, Udaipur

·         Dr Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth,

·         Akola z Bihar Agricultural University, Bhagalpur

·         Chander Sekhar Azad University of Agriculture and Technology, Kanpur

·         Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Gwalior

·         Dr Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth, Dapoli, Maharashtra

Other universities including private and deemed to be universities and their affiliated colleges also offer courses in agriculture. Engineering courses in agriculture are offered at many of the Agriculture/other Universities, engineering colleges and also at some of the IITs/NITs. For example IIT, Kharagpur has courses in agricultural and food engineering.

 Institutes offering Agriculture Management/Agri-Business Managment

·         Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad/ Lucknow

·         Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University, Pusa/ Samastipur

·         Vaikunth Mehta National Institute of Cooperative Management, Pune

·         Indian Institute of Plantation Management, Bengaluru

·          National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management, Hyderabad

·         Institute of Management Studies, Banaras Hindu University

·         Institute of Rural Management, Anand

·         National Institute of Agricultural Marketing, Jaipur

·         Gandhigram Rural Institute, Dindigul (deemed to be university)

·          National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad

Research: Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi is a good place to pursue study and research in agriculture.

Job Opportunities

A qualification in Agriculture opens many pathways of work. Campus placement happens at many of the institutes offering courses in Agriculture. Some of the companies which have made campus selection in recent years include Amul, ITC, Nestle, KPMG, Syngenta, KRIBHCO, Rallis India Limited, Godrej Agrovet, Mosanto, DUPONT, DCM SRIRAM, Dhanuka Agritech, BASIX, Aga Khan Foundation, Aditya Birla Group etc. The list gives an idea of the kind of organizations which look for people with qualification in agriculture.

Job opportunities exist in fertilizer, pesticides, agrochemical, agricultural equipment, tractor manufacturing companies and also microfinance organizations, cooperatives etc. Agro and rural tourism can also be among options.

Banking sector comprising both public and private sector banks recruit graduates in Agriculture as Agricultural/ Field/ Rural Development Officers. For Public Sector Banks, Institute of Banking Personnel Selection conducts centralized test every year. If you want to choose All India Services, Indian Forest Service (IFS) can be your bet for which examination is conducted every year by Union Public Service Commission. Intensive preparation is required to succeed in this competitive examination.

Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board has a scheme of National Eligibility Test and Agricultural Research Service and from time to time advertises vacancies for senior positions in government organizations involved in research in agriculture. Various other institutes offering research opportunities include National Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, Varanasi Central Potato Research Institute, Shimla Central Research Institute of Dryland Agriculture, Hyderabad; Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute, Goa; Central Plantation Crop Research Institute, Kasargod; Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute, Jhansi; Central Institute of Cotton Research, Nagpur; Indian Institute of Pulses Research, Kanpur and many others.

Bodies like Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Bhopal recruit senior research fellows and research fellows.

 Many start-ups now are working in the agriculture domain. You may have your own start-up or work with one. Organizations involved in rural development, non-governmental organizations and the area of corporate social responsibility also offer work opportunities.

Agriculture offers worldwide opportunities. Students with higher qualification in Agriculture may work with international organizations like SAARC Agriculture Centre, Food and Agricultural Organization, International Food Policy Research Institute, International Crop Research Institute for the SemiArid Tropics etc.

One can also explore opportunities in other domains related to agriculture such as animal husbandry, fisheries, dairy/poultry farming, floriculture, forestry, sericulture, food processing.

(The author is a Mumbaibased career counsellor. She can be reached at artmumb98 @gmail.com) Views expressed are personal