STARTING THIS academic session, nine courses, including agriculture and horticulture, have been granted the recognition of ‘professional degrees’.
The state government made the announcement recently, after receiving clearance from Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) — an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Agriculture. Hailing the decision, which has come after several years of persistent demands, mainly from the All India Agriculture Universities Alumni Association, experts said the move is expected to not only streamline the allied courses but also give present-day agriculture the desired specilised attention.
Out of the 12 courses the state government had proposed for recognition as professional courses, nine were granted the status. Rajaram Deshmukh, former vice-chancellor or Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyalay, said, “It is a welcome move and now the department of agriculture will now get technical status. It will benefit the whole sector of agriculture.”
The professional courses now include agriculture, horticulture, agriculture engineering, sericulture, forestry, food technology, biotechnology, home or community science food nutrition and diabetes. Earlier, experts from any of the fields of agriculture could have focus work entitled to them, rather than providing an overall opinion on the issues related to seeds, water conservation, soil quality, etc.
“With the courses now being professional, specialised requirements can be imparted, given that Indian agriculture is increasingly in need of micro-level attention,” added Deshmukh. Jalyukta Shivar, one of Maharashtra government’s flagship programmes in the area of water conservation, is best undertaken with the help of hydrologists and agriculture engineers, who can provide their expertise in calculating the water seepage and run-offs.
In addition, the change in nomenclature of the course can also help processing department of agriculture. “ This will help the secondary stage of agriculture, that is mainly in exports and thus the overall sector can see a facelift,” added an expert from College of Agriculture, Pune.
If the present syllabus of the courses need any improvement, Deshmukh said, “The fifth dean committee had last year met and the current syllabus is updated. 70 per cent of the syllabus across all colleges of agriculture remains the same, while the universities also have free-hand to include some topics as per requirement of their regions.”