Indian agriculture continues to score gains in output as well as productivity. Robust foodgrain production assures us food security and national self-sufficiency placing us in a position to step up exports of selected food grains. Agriculture is the base for agro-processing industries such as grain milling, edible oils and sugar. Agriculture provides the raw materials for industries such as cotton textiles, jute goods and starch and cellulose products. Lastly, agriculture contributes in a significant way to our export effort. Examples are cereal exports, horticulture products and newer items such as cut flowers and mushrooms. Thus, agriculture continues to be important for India and its economy.
Nature of Work
Today agriculture is no longer practiced by rule of thumb. Instead it is highly sciectific, mechanized and sophisticated and consequently very profitable too. Agricultural science uses principles of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics and other sciences to solve problems in agriculture.
Agricultural engineers are involved indesign and production of agricultural machinery, planning, design and construction of farm buildings, associated equipment, field engineering involving irrigation, drainage and land resource planning. They are increasingly getting involved in forestry and ecological engineering.
Professionals engaged in the sphere of agriculture are involved in work that ranges from the totally academic as in basic or applied R & D , to management or administration of R & D or managing marketing and production operations in companies producing food products of agricultural chemicals, supplies and machinery.
Research could be concerned with plant disease, pest control, soil chemistry, genetics, nutrition, food science and nutrition, forestry, environmental sciences, agricultural processing, etc.
The nature/environment of work of the agricultural scientist differs with the various specializations available in the sphere of agricultural science. In R & D managerial and regulatory, or consulting functions, the workplace is usually the office or laboratory. However, for the farm manager there is as much of outdoor
Supervision and organisation as there is office work and scientific planning.
Agricultural scientists study farm crops and animals and develop ways of improving their quality and quantity. They look for ways to improve crop yield and quality, control weeds and pests more safely and effectively and conserve soil and water.
Horticulture and Floriculture cover the whole range of land-based industries-fruit, vegetable, tuber-crops, flowers, medicinal and aromatic plants, mushrooms, plantation crops, spices, etc. Aquaculture is the cultivation of the natural produce of water.
Plant Science, Soil Science, Fisheries Science are specialised areas for an agricultural scientist to work on depending upon the individual’s interest and aptitude.
Physical and Psychological Requirements
While managerial assignments require ability to take decisions, organizing ability and enjoyment of responsibility, research jobs require the ability to work for long hours on one’s mown, a keen, analytical mind and intense concentration.
Floriculturists and Horticulturists need not necessarily have green fingers, though it may be advantageous. More importantly, they require patience, dedication and technical know-how.
Those interested in aquaculture and fisheries science require a love for the outdoors if they want to handle live projects or manage their own fish farms.
The ability to work on one’s own as well as part of team, good health and a strong back for frequent bending and lifting, indifference to unpleasant weather conditions, sometimes to dirty work, practical ability, good powers of observation to detect early signs of disease in plants, animals and poultry and the ability to deal with the unexpected calamity and interest in scientific developments are important for active work in agricultural production.
Teaching requires the ability to communicate and the interest in doing so; ability to provide practical and factual information in simple language; patience and ability to infuse enthusiasm for learning in students.
Basic training in the agricultural sciences is available at the agricultural universities in the country while a few engineering institutes also offer courses in agricultural engineering. Professional study of agriculture commences after completion of Plus Two with Science.
Admission to the state agricultural universities may be based on merit or performance in an entrance examination as per the rules prevailing in the state.
Notifications appear form January on wards, while the sessions usually start off between July and September.
Indian Council of Agricultural Research (Krishi Anusandhan Bhavan, Pusa, New Delhi-110012) conducts an All India Entrance Examination (usually in May) for admission to undergraduate courses in agriculture and allied sciences (excluding Veterinary Science) for filling up 15% of the total number of seats in State Agricultural Universities, Central Agricultural University, Imphal and 100% of the seats in National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal.
Undergraduate Programmes (4-year duration) in agricultural sciences include:
Agriculture, Horticulture, Fisheries Science, Forestry, Sericulture, Agricultural Engineering Agricultural Marketing, Banking and Cooperation.
PG courses are of 2 years’ duration
Science at Plus Two/equivalent with Physics, Chemistry and Biology is required for most of the courses. Exceptions: Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics are required for admission to Agricultural Engineering and Agricultural Marketing, Banking and Cooperation. However, candidates without Mathematics are allowed admission with the requirement of additional credits during the programme.
Admission tests, where conducted, will evaluate abilities in Sciences(PCM/B) at the Plus Two/equivalent level.
The Department of Agricultural Research and Education(DARE) coordinates research and educational activities in agriculture, animal husbandary and fisheries. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research(ICAR), an autonomous apex body at national level, promotes science and technology programmes in the areas of agricultural research, education and agricultural extension.
Agricultural scientists and engineers may work as consultants to business firms, agro-based industries, or the government. Horticulturists may go on to become gardening consultants, landscape designers while floriculturists have good prospects as growers/suppliers and exporters.
The role of horticulture has been acknowledged as an economically viable alternative to traditional agriculture. India has already achieved high positions in fruit and vegetable production in the world.
There are varied opportunities for salaried jobs as well as entrepreneurship. While salaried jobs with various government and private concerns provide a regular income, entrepreneurship can generate handsome profits.
Research openings are also increasing as research institutions gear up to accept the challenge of the export market with the combined support of the government and the corporate sector.
Openings for agricultural scientists are in institutions like the Indian Council of Agricultural Research ad its affiliate, the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research.
Nationalised commercial banks and NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) also provide class I openings to agricultural experts.
Popultry production in the country has also jade sufficient progress due to the research and development thrust of the government and organized private sector.
Fisheries play an important role in the Indian economy, augmenting food supply, generating employment, raising nutritional levels and earning foreign exchange.
In the agri-business sector, employers can be companies like Bayer, BASF, Britannia, Cynamid Dabur, EID Parry, Marico, JK Seeds, Rallis India, Searle Zurai industries etc.
Agriculture, thus, provides viable options both for self-employment and corporate sector placements. The government of the country and the various state governments require a number of highly qualified personnel for management and scientific cadre posts.
India’s topographical diversity, variety of climate and abundant cheap labour give it a natural advantage in agriculture and the agro-business. Hence, healthy progression is possible in all areas of work. With the application of scientific methodology and research all categories of professionals involved in agriculture and allied careers are reaping the rewards of productivity, higher gains and possibilities of diversification.
As the volume of agricultural produce continues to increase, and farmers diversify into newer crops, or farmers in dry land/remote areas take up commercial production, the challenge for agricultural marketing continues to grow.