When considering career choices, young people, in India, generally shy away from agriculture, which is strange on the fact that India is primarily an agricultural country. For the youth today, agriculture means an archaic lifestyle and a future with limited opportunities.
However, this is just a perception. Agriculture is an important part 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 reuires young minds to initiate innovation. A very small percentage of our students opt for an agricultural major because they do not realise its potential. One advantage that this sector has other industries is that it does not require down-sizing. Feeding the world is a job that will never face recession.
The demand for trained professionals in the field of agriculture is high. The fee for bachelor in agriculture is negligible— barely Rs 5,000 per year. Scholarships are also available for the course, completing which, students can get a well-paying jobs.
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. Additionally, agriculture is more diverse now than ever before and is advancing quickly, creating new jobs with increasing salaries.
With the industry on the ascent, but with college students uninformed about the opportunities in the agricultural sector, there is a shortage of talent in this field. Here’s what you need to know about BSc in Agriculture.
Duration and course content:
It is a four-year 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 and basics of biotechnology. 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.
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 sector jobs available for BSc 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 and food processing units among other jobs.
The average starting salary of these officers is generally between Rs 5 to 6 lakh per annum. And as you gain in years and experience, the scope for better remuneration is immense. After doing BSc Agriculture, one may also go for MSc Agriculture and take up a teaching job, or even go for a PhD and build a career in the Agricultural Research.