India is a predominantly agricultural country. Nearly two third of India's population lives in villages where agriculture is the prime activity. Our food and many other necessities are provided by agriculture. Agriculture is important for each and every country on this earth but for a country like India it assumes more significance as we require enough of agricultural produce to meet the requirements of our huge population. It assumes more significance also because there are large number of people who derive their livelihood only from agriculture. Though post-independence much urbanization and industrialization has taken place in the country, contribution of agricultural activities and rural economy contributing to such activities, remains substantial. However like many other vocations, agriculture has also undergone many changes over a period of time. How people look at agriculture has also changed.
Our five year plans and many of the government initiatives have always kept development of agriculture in focus. Navigating through green revolution, white revolution and many other such phases, Indian agriculture is in much better shape today. However it is felt that the sector needs more reforms and innovations to unleash its full potential. Professionally qualified people in agriculture only will make this possible.
Agriculture is a very vast subject. It has a number of branches like horticulture, crop science, dairy, fisheries, agronomy, animal husbandry, soil science etc.
Study: To make a professional career in agriculture one should have at least a Bachelor's degree in the subject in short this degree is known as B.Sc. (Ag) Those who have studied science or agriculture at 10+2 level are considered eligible for admission to B.Sc. (Ag). Almost all recognized universities in the country have a department of Agriculture to conduct graduate and higher level courses in the subject. Graduate courses are available at many of the university affiliated colleges as well. In addition there are exclusive Agricultural universities established by central and state governments. Some of such well known universities are-
*Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Pantnagar
*Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore
*University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad
*Rajmata Vijayraje Sciendia Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya , Gwalior
*Orissa University of Agriculture & Technology, Bhubaneswar
*Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hissar
*Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana
*Chandra Shekar Azad University of Agriculture & Technology, Kanpur
*Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Viswavidyalaya, Jabalpur
*Narendra Deva University of Agriculture & Technology, Faizabad
*Rajendra Agricultural University, Pusa, Samastipur
These universities offer general and specialized courses in agriculture. Besides there are institutions where mostly specialized disciplines are available for study and research. Examples of Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Mumbai, National Dairy Research Institute , Karnal in Haryana can be taken here. Both of these are deemed universities.
Agricultural economics and agricultural engineering courses can also be pursued by interested candidates.
Career opportunities: Those who think that study of agriculture is only for land owners and farming background should rethink. Agriculture has a wide impact and it is directly and indirectly related to economy and society in many ways. As such education in agriculture opens door for multiple career opportunities locally, nationally and globally. Some of these are described below.
Direct agriculture: As mentioned before, farming is a way of livelihood for nearly 60 percent of our population. However there are people who have undertaken agriculture as a commercial activity just like any other business. With education in agriculture you may involve in farming in a better way. Individuals and companies owning big farms require farm managers. Farming can be done on owned and also on leased land. In certain cases there are government incentives to engage in farming business. Based on viability of the project and credentials of the promoters bank loans can be availed for seeds, fertilizers, equipments etc. Contract farming can be one of such agricultural ventures. Hi tech agriculture is another area which promises high productivity with use of technology and high yield seeds etc.
Research: Agriculture is a research oriented subject. It is important to learn about new trends, emerging requirements and best practices in the field of agriculture to get the best out of it. Research can be of much help here and our government has recognized this. To promote research in agriculture our country has the apex body of Indian Council for Agricultural Research .There are nearly 100 research institutes under the council which include research centres for all major crops and other agricultural disciplines. Some of these research institutes are-
*Central Institute of Cotton Research, Nagpur
*Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, Ranchi
*Central Potato Research Institute, Shimla
*Central Institute of Sub Tropical Horticulture, Lucknow
*Central Research Institute of Dryland Agriculture, Hyderabad
*Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, Lucknow
*Indian Institute of Water Management, Bhubaneswar
*National Research Centre for Grapes, Pune
*Indian Institute of Maize Research, New Delhi
*Indian Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology, Ranchi
In addition there are a large number of agricultural research institutes worldwide. So you can seek research opportunities on a global basis. Good numbers of scholarships are also offered for research both nationally and internationally.
Banking sector: Majority of public sector bank branches in our country are situated in rural and semi urban areas. Our government has given exclusive targets to banks for financing to agriculture and allied activities .Various government sponsored schemes including agriculture based schemes are implemented through our banks. All public sector banks have vacancies for agricultural clerks and officers. Those having qualifications like B.Sc Ag, B.V.Sc. etc. are considered eligible for such positions. In some banks designation of such officers has been kept as Rural Development Officer. National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) recruits such qualified people as grade B officers. Vacancies are advertised almost every year. In public sector banks those joining as agricultural officers may decide to continue as such or opt to convert as general banking officer after putting in required number of years in service. Agriculture graduates are eligible to apply for generalist clerks and probationary officers as well.
As scientist: Agriculture is a science subject .So there are opportunities to work as an agricultural scientist in government and private sector organizations. Our government has established Agricultural Scientist Recruitment Board for centralizing the recruitment process of senior agricultural scientists in government established laboratories and institutions. Private sector companies also offer job opportunities to agricultural scientists. You may choose to work with companies in the business of fertilizers, pesticides, food processing, farm equipments etc.
Microfinance Institutions: Microfinance means small loans to poor and deprived people to engage in productive activities. Mostly such loans are provided to people in groups and on their doorsteps. There are many microfinance organizations operating at national and state level. These prefer to employ people with agricultural or rural background. Employees are given training before putting them to field.
All India Services: For applying to civil services a graduate degree is required. This graduation can be in agriculture also. However agriculture graduates have an added opportunity as they can also appear in the Indian Forest Service (IFS) Examination. This examination is conducted by Union Public Service Commission every year. Candidates who qualify in this examination are provided extensive training and then posted as Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) etc. This is an All India Service and considered highly prestigious.
Business & marketing: With education in agriculture one can also explore the opportunity to enter business or marketing. You may start your own business or become part of an organization involved in such business. There are a number of courses available in agricultural and rural marketing and also with specialization in such subjects. Institute of Rural Management, Anand , is a premier institute offering courses in rural business management . Institute of Rural Management, Jaipur, National Institute Of Agricultural Marketing, Jaipur have also such courses. Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and few other management institutes offer postgraduate courses with specialization in agri business management.
Teaching: As there are large number of institutes offering education in agriculture, those willing to teach the subject has ample opportunities. You can choose to teach graduate, postgraduate and/or doctoral students. For this teaching job you'll be required to have at least a Master's degree in Agriculture viz. M.Sc ( Ag) or equivalent. Those with research qualification have definite advantage in teaching and research jobs.
An education in agriculture provides opportunities to work in the areas of food security, bio diversity, environment conservation and many such other fields.
Those with higher qualifications and valuable work experience have opportunities to work with reputed International bodies as Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO), SAARC Agriculture Centre, Bangladesh, Centre for International Forestry Research, Indonesia, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Tanzania , USAID etc.
For those seeking a career in agriculture, useful information is available at the websites of Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Agricultural Scientist Recruitment Board etc.
A good qualification in agriculture opens doors for varied career opportunities in diverse fields. It is for you to decide which field you want to enter and what kind of work you'd like to do.
Indian economy is turning a new leaf and agriculture is going to play a larger and significant role in it. Students of agriculture can be a part of this new growth story of India.