Career in Agricultural Sciences & Technology

Chander Mohan Sharma
Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of modern India once said, “Everything can wait, but not agriculture.” Be it war or peace, floods or droughts, epidemics, pandemics or endemics, farmers will continue to work for food production as the pre-requisite for life and health of animals and civilized humanity.
In India, agriculture has remained the mainstay of her economy since ages. It has provided raw material for industries and jobs to millions of persons of all age groups and gender, formally and informally. No wonder, there shall always remain the requirement of researchers and extension functionaries to guide farmers in sustainable production technology, post production management and supplies.
April – May is the time when most of the students complete the minimum prescribed qualification for seeking entrance to the professional training programmes. During this period, the students draw the roadmap to shape their professional career. They generally remain inclined for career in engineering, commerce and medical professions, but little for agriculture.
The principal reason for this tendency seems to be laborious nature of farm work coupled with lower financial returns in traditional farming systems. The desire for comforts in the society is on a sharp ascent, but the contribution of agriculture to health, culture and economic stability of a country is generally ignored. Agriculture is therefore fast losing appeal amongst the youth. In this backdrop, may the quotation of George Washington be recalled, “Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful, and most noble employment source of man.”
Work in agricultural sector ranges from relevant academic pursuits of research and teaching quality control of inputs and products, law enforcement, running farms, orchards, dairies, insurance, finance, banking and trade besides popularizing agronomy, breeding, genetics, chemistry and pest control. Through adequate training in scientific principles and relevant skills rural youth and enterprising students can turn the tide in favour of higher efficiency, lesser labour, higher yields, greater economic returns and sustainability.
India still has a vast untapped potential for agricultural development because of great variability in soils and climatic types. Round the year cultivation of a large variety of agricultural items in one part of the country or other at higher productivity levelsss is still possible. Focus by governments on training and financial support for agro based entrepreneurship courses, specifically for children from farming families, in public and private sector colleges and institutes, can improve the efficiency of farm planning and management at the village level itself
A brief introduction to various components of Agriculture as career option for students who pass the minimum prescribed qualification level is given here under:
Agricultural engineering uses scientific principles and technology to solve problems relating to development and management of land, irrigation and drainage management. These are the major interventions for sustainable agricultural production. Agricultural Engineers also perform tasks such as manufacturing and promoting agricultural machinery and equipments, constructing storage godowns, processing units, supervising and managing dairy effluent schemes, performing environmental impact assessments, interpreting research results and implementing relevant practices.
Environmental Engineering is a budding branch of engineering that makes use of the tools and techniques of science and engineering disciplines to improve the environment (air, water, and/or land resources) from pollution and to provide healthy water, air, and land for human habitation and for other organisms.
Food processing industry has vital linkages between industry and agriculture. Going by a study conducted by McKinsey and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the turnover of the total Indian food market is about Rs. 250,000 crore. Fast growth in the food processing sector and improvement in the value chain system are quite vital to achieve favorable terms of trade for Indian agriculture.
The sector is vital, also because the post-harvest losses of many Fruits and Vegetable is about 25 to 30 per cent in our country which could be prevented through effective food-processing techniques. The major thrust areas in this context include: Canning, Dairy and Food Processing, Specialty Processing, Packaging, Frozen Food/ Refrigeration and Thermo Processing, Fruits & Vegetables, Fisheries, Milk & Milk Products, Meat & Poultry, Alcoholic Beverages & Soft Drinks and Grains and Health food.
Horticulture is the field that involves cultivation of vegetables, flowers, fruits, herbs, shrubs, bushes, ornamental trees and landscaping for gardens, maintaining nurseries, green houses, gardens, orchards and plantations.
Forestry sector has emerged as an important discipline of study due to ever-growing importance to issues like global warming, deforestation, global climatic change, water scarcity and natural disasters, etc. Nations have now realized the importance of effective and controlled use of forest wealth.
Aquaculture deals with production in water and underwater environments. Broadly speaking aquaculture is the multi-disciplinary study of Earth’s interrelated processes (atmosphere, oceans, and land surface) and their relationship to growing food items under changing Earth systems. With approximately three-quarters of the Earth’s surface covered with water, aqua science becomes an important subject area.
Dairy Farming, an active source of employment to millions of Indians, has shown significant development and now has helped India become the second biggest producer of milk and value-added milk products in the world. The sector has mainly developed through co-operatives in many parts of the Indian states.
Plant Protection comprises of Plant Pathology, Entomology, Microbiology, Nematology and so on. It deals with the study of fungi, bacteria, viruses, nematodes, insects, rodents, and microbes that cause diseases of plants and damage the crops either by sucking the juice/ sap, chewing the plant parts and acting like a vector for spread of diseases. The branch focuses on control of plant diseases and insect pests. Those who deal with animal pests and physiology are the Veterinarians.
Poultry farming is the commercial raising of chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese for their meat and eggs. In India, poultry farming has emerged as a highly structured and market -oriented business. It has good scope in food markets both nationally and globally.
Animal Husbandry, Dairy Technology & Management is a diversified field consisting of many tasks, tools, principles and processes of Dairy Farming. India is the second largest milk producer in the world and the white revolution has established Dairy industry as an important pillar of the Indian economy.
Sericulture is the craft and technology of breeding silk worms for the production of raw silk yarn. It includes all activities related to their breeding, mulberry cultivation and post-cocoon technology. The field requires technical expertise to breed silkworms. Indian sericulture contributes four types of silk Mulberry, Tassar, Eri & Muga to the World of silk fabrics. India faces a lot of competition from different global competitors.
Apiculture is the management and study of honeybees. Honey bees are natural source of a precious product – honey, as a nutritious item for human consumption since ancient times and used in a large number of Ayurvedic medicines as a drug vehicle. Because of its natural occurrence, quality, fragrance and known mode of action in the human body, honey is added during formulation of different products.
Due to rapid strides in technology in all spheres of Agronomy, Plant breeding, Seed production, Mushroom and Spawn Production, Bee-breeding, Extension, Economics, Meteorology, Soil Science, Chemistry etc. significant enhancement of opportunities is visualized in Agriculture at the local and the national level.
Pay package for trained personnel in government and private sector varies with the post, but in many cases it is quite handsome. It may vary with one’s experience and total years of service as well.
Agriculture being the life support system for the entire mankind, humanity shall have to remain involved with it for its own sustenance.z