What do you aspire to be? A software engineer, investment banker, event manager politician, artist, doctor, lawyer, teacher, policymaker, entrepreneur, actor … the list is endless. But a farmer doesn’t figure in the list. When considering career choices, young people, in India, generally shy away from agriculture, which is sad considering that we are primarily an agricultural country. For the youth today, agriculture is not a cool option. It means an archaic lifestyle and a future with limited opportunities --- that’s the perception.
But it is not true. Agriculture matters to the future of development. Economists point out that agriculture is four times more effective than other sectors in reducing poverty. It can even be a gold mine for young entrepreneurs. Besides, agricultural research needs young mind to initiate innovation. A very small percentage of our students opt for an agricultural major, only because they don’t realise its potential. Somebody needs to point out to them one basic advantage that agriculture has over other sectors: other industries might need down-sizing, but feeding the world is a job that isn’t ever going to face recession!
Most students are well aware of the streams like engineering and medicine, and post-graduate degrees like the MBA. But you may have not given any thought to a B.Sc in Agriculture, in spite of the fact that agriculture is a part of the NCERT syllabus for Class 10+2 for science students, and you prepared the chapter for your board exams.
The demand for trained professionals in the field of agriculture is high. The course fee is negligible, barely Rs. 5,000 per year. Scholarships are also available (view table below). A student who has completed a B.Sc in Agriculture will get a well-paying job right after graduation.
It was in the mid-1960s, Dr. DS Kothari, the then Chairman of the UGC, proposed that each state should have at least one agricultural university, a move that was implemented across the country. This resulted in the setting up of 49 such universities, both by the state and the central government.
Besides, agriculture is more diverse now than ever before, offering a wide variety of jobs. Agricultural technology is also advancing fast, creating new jobs. Salaries are increasing and a career in agriculture is today as rewarding as any other, if not more.
Besides, with the present government’s focus on agriculture, experts say that there will be more jobs available in agriculture and allied industries, than ever before. With the industry on the ascent, but with college students uninformed about the opportunities in this field there is an understandable shortage of talent in this field.
To bridge this gap, here is a lowdown on B.Sc. Agriculture and the opportunities it affords:
Who should do: Class12 Science students with a basic interest in the agriculture sector should go in for B.Sc. Agriculture
Duration and course content: It is 4 years undergraduate bachelor degree program which generally includes agriculture science, use of modern scientific equipment and techniques in agriculture, land surveying, soil science, water resource management, animal and poultry management, basics of biotechnology etc. The aim of the program is to train students improve agriculture productivity, manage products and contribute to future development of the sector through research activities.
Course content: A B.Sc. in Agriculture equips students with all-round knowledge of sector and normally includes the following:
§ Agronomy: Basics of Agronomy, Kharif and Rabi Crop, Crop Protection, Weed Management, Irrigation Techniques, Water Resource Management, Organic Farming, Sustainable Agriculture.
§ Plant Genetics: Botany, Basics of Genetics, Plant Breeding, Seed Technology, Basics of Biotechnology.
§ Soil Science: Introduction to Soil Science, Soil Fertility, Soil Chemistry, Fertilizers, Agricultural Chemistry.
§ Entomology: Pest Management, Beneficial Insects, Grain Storage and Management.
§ Agricultural Economics: Market prices, Trade prices, Marketing, Finance, Agribusiness Management, Farm Management.
§ Agriculture Engineering: Agriculture Machinery, Power and Tools, Harvest Technology, Environment Science and Engineering, Renewable Energy.
§ Agricultural Meteorology: Climate patterns, Climatic hazards on Agriculture, Climatic Zones, Weather forecasting.
§ Plant Pathology: Crop Diseases, Nematology.
§ Horticulture: Fruit Crops, Medicinal Plants, Aromatic Plants, Flower Production, Spices, Plantation Crops.
§ Agricultural Extension: Dimensions of Agricultural Extension, Extension Methodologies, Entrepreneurship Development program.
In all the above areas of study, practical sessions related to theoretical knowledge are also built into the course. There are some elective courses, study tours, field trips, in some semesters. These vary from university to university.
Job opportunities and salary after graduation: There are plenty of government as well as private sectorjobs available for B.Sc. Agriculture graduates. They can be appointed as Research Officer, Quality Assurance Officer, Agriculture Officer, Agriculture Loan Officer (in Banks), Production Manager, Operations Manager and Farm Manager with State agriculture departments. In the private sector agriculture science graduates may find jobs as managers at plantations, as officers at fertilizer manufacturing firms, agriculture machinery industries, agricultural products marketing firms, food processing units etc. The average starting salary of these officers is generally between 5 to 6 lakh per annum (Including Incentive). And as you gain in years and experience, the scope for better remuneration is immense. After doing B.Sc. Agriculture, one may also go for M.Sc. Agriculture and take up a teaching job, or even go for a PhD and build a career in the Agricultural Research.