Career in Agriculture: Basic know-how
Agriculture is the mainstay of the Indian economy. It is therefore natural that facilities for agricultural education are expanding at various levels. Among other things, the Government has created a Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE) in the Ministry of Agriculture to coordinate educational and research activities.
Education in the area of Agricultural and Animal Sciences covers Agricultural Sciences, Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry (which along with Animal Product Technology such as Dairying is now known as Animal Science), Fisheries, Horticulture, Sericulture, Forestry, Wild Life, Agricultural Engineering, Dairy Science and Technology, Agricultural Management (including Marketing, Banking and Cooperation). Home Science is also considered a part of agricultural education and, therefore, most of the Home Science Colleges are affiliated to Agricultural Universities. In addition, Food Science and Technology is also treated as a subject allied to agricultural science.
Agricultural universities and colleges
There are more than 30 agricultural universities spread across the length and breadth of the country. A search through the Internet would provide comprehensive information about the universities. Also there are some other universities that have agricultural faculties viz. Allahabad University, Annamalai University, Banaras Hindu University, Bundelkhand University, Chaudhari Charan Singh University, Meerut, Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar University, Agra, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati University, Ajmer, Mahatma Gandhi Chitrakoot Gramodaya Vishwavidyalaya, Nagaland University, and Visva-Bharati.
Agricultural universities offer education at graduation, post graduation and doctoral levels. The entry requirement for all the first degree programmes, except dairy technology and agricultural engineering, is 10+2 with physical and biological sciences or vocational courses in agriculture, fisheries, veterinary science. Mathematics and physical sciences are essential qualification requirements for dairy technology and agricultural engineering. Most universities insist on a minimum of 55% marks in the aggregate. Minimum age of entry is generally 17 years.
The duration of the courses is four years except animal sciences and home science. The duration of animal science courses is five years including a compulsory internship of six months. Home Science course is of three-year duration. In some universities Honours degree course in agriculture needs six months of internship. All the colleges follow either semester or trimester system. All universities follow grade point average (GPA) system for grading students qualifying in the examinations.
Other agricultural courses
While many non-agricultural universities offer postgraduate courses related to agriculture, a number of agricultural universities have introduced agricultural courses related to other disciplines. Some of the important ones are: Agricultural Chemistry, Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Statistics and Agro Meteorology.
What can you do after passing out?
On obtaining a graduate or a postgraduate degree in a discipline of agriculture and allied sciences, there are a wide range of options and opportunities in teaching, research and transfer of technology areas in State Agricultural Universities (SAUs), State Departments of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry and NGOs. Even banks which advance credit and loans for agro-based projects employ agricultural specialists. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts an annual competitive examination for recruitment in the Indian Forest Services.
The employment opportunities are really multifaceted for competent persons. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) (Krishi Anusandhan Bhavan, Pusa, New Delhi-110012), an autonomous body under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), is one of the largest employers of scientific manpower in the country.
The research set-up includes 45 Central Institutes, four National Bureaus, 10 Project Directorates, 30 National Research Centres and 80 All-India Coordinated Research Projects. For effective communication of research findings among farmers, the ICAR maintains a network of 261 Krishi Vigyan Kendras, along with 8 Zonal Coordinating Units. More than 6,500 research scientists work directly in ICAR’s research establishments and about 5,000 work in SAUs, and projects funded directly by the ICAR.
Recruitments to these positions constituting the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are made by the Agricultural Scientist Recruitment Board (ASRB). Recruitments are made in 61 disciplines through a nation-wide competitive examination followed by a personal interview. These 61 disciplines apart, agricultural, animal and allied sciences include basic and fundamental sciences, home science and engineering, This is, however, a combined competitive examination not only for recruitment in ARS but also used as National Eligibility Test (NET) for appointment of Assistant Professors and Lecturers in SAUs and for awarding Senior Research Fellowships. Generally, the competitive examination is held in October every year for which notification is made latest by April. The National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM) at Hyderabad imparts foundation training to new entrants in Agricultural Research Service (ARS).
Scientific placements in ICAR are classified into Scientists, Senior Scientists and Principal Scientists. Promotion from Scientists to the level of Senior Scientists is through performance appraisal and the length of service in the previous grade. Lateral entry into these positions is open to scientists from other organisations and the SAUs. There is also ample opportunity for training and skill upgradation and active participation in research both within the country and abroad. Opportunities are also available for obtaining higher degrees for in-service candidates with study-leave benefits.
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