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Agricultural studies in Tamil Nadu

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2014 population data states that India has a whopping 1.27 billion mouths to be fed. In 2050, the population is projected to be 1.69 billion. Global population trend is similar, an exponential increase as indicated by Thomas Malthus. Malthusian Theory of Population points out that at some point of time in the future, the world population would grow exponentially while food supply would only grow arithmetically resulting in a man made catastrophe. But the other half of the prognosis has been proved wrong – food supply growing arithmetically. Though population continues to mushroom, greater harvests have been made possible. Thanks to the progress in agricultural technology, i.e. new inputs, newer methods and processes, agricultural production has indeed increased over time.

India has taken consistent initiatives not just in agricultural technology, but in agriculture research, education and frontline extension. Evolution in agriculture has in turn opened new vistas in agriculture careers. Today, there are many courses which focus exclusively on career preparation and placement in the agriculture sector. Moreover, opting for agricultural studies extends to research in agriculture or preparing for civil services examination.

Pioneers in Agriculture

Prospective agriculture students looking for academic motivation are sure to be inspired by Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram (born in India, citizen of Mexico) who was conferred the 2014 World Food Prize award. The award is in recognition of his scientific research in developing 480 wheat varieties. Cultivated in 40 million hectares around the world, this has led to an increase in world wheat production by more than 200 million tons. A BSc in agriculture from University of Gorakhpur followed by an MSc in genetics and plant breeding from IARI and a Ph.D. from the University of Sydney, Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram has 400 research publications to his credit and has mentored hundreds of scientists around the world. Since the time the award was instituted in 1986, seven Indians have won the prestigious World Food Prize award. Quite natural!

Ours is an agro-economy. Agriculture is the backbone of our economy. Agriculture in India dates back to Rig-Veda. Prosperous agriculture was the base of strong kingdoms and empires. It is the same in the modern era. Agriculture has always been accorded an important position in Indian society. Globally too, excellence in agriculture always receives recognition.

Closer home, Dr. M.S Swaminathan, regarded as the Godfather of India's Green Revolution won the first World Food Prize in 1987 besides winning other prestigious awards. Many a time, the scientist has explained his career decision citing the great Bengal famine of 1943. Due to acute rice shortage, about 3 million people died from starvation. The scientist, inspired by Gandhi's ideologies, decided to undertake agricultural research in order to help farmers produce more. Rest, as they say is history.

Agriculture – a diverse domain

For many, agriculture is limited to seed planting, watering, using manure and reaping the yield or in other words, restricted to production. Agriculture is very diverse and encompasses production, processing, marketing and use of foods, fibers and by-products from plant crops and animals.

Depending on one's aptitude, there are many ways to explore. It can be challenging too. The sector provides wide range and large scale employment. Also, it is a sector that the entire nation is dependent upon to fulfill hunger and nutritional requirements. Hence, the demand for qualified personnel is more than supply.

Besides meeting internal requirements, we have export commitments. In order to achieve the $70 billion export target for 2017, an imminent policy implementation increasing agricultural productivity and promoting diversity of crops and specialized items is on the anvil to meet specific global demands. This means qualified and experienced persons will be sought after.

Considering the momentum, it is a sector that will always see supply crunch. The demand for trained professionals in agriculture is high. Career analysts and consultants opine good scope for B.Sc in agriculture and horticulture. With specific relevance to Tamil Nadu, there is a huge fund allocation for agriculture studies.

Agricultural study in Tamil Nadu

The foremost aspect for consideration is whether the institution is a member of the Indian Agricultural Universities Association (IAUA). Unanimously, the focus of all Agricultural Universities and colleges in India that is a member of IAUA is to impart knowledge-based curriculum, provide hands-on practical training and also engage in agricultural research and development. Some of the universities have their own farms that cater to teaching, training, research and plant propagating activities.

Across the country, we have 45 public colleges, 5 deemed and 4 central universities with courses related to agriculture and allied subjects.

Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) is rated as the 'Best Agricultural University' in India by Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi as an institute of excellence for higher education in agricultural and allied subjects. Keeping pace with changing trends, the curriculum is revised every four years. Revised syllabus would focus on entrepreneurship too. Other key features are MoU with 45 global institutions for dual degree programs and e-learning of select courses. Proposed agriculture polytechnic colleges in all districts in the state will focus on skill development.

Well-informed decision is backed by knowing what exactly encompasses agricultural studies in India, particularly in Tamil Nadu, the eligibility for UGC, higher studies etc.

1. Disciplines of agriculture are horticulture, animal sciences, agricultural engineering, agro forestry and fishery.

2. In +2/Higher Secondary, students with the following groups are eligible to pursue the under graduate programme (Science and technology programs).

The eligibility: Plus-Two with four science subjects, physics, chemistry, mathematics and botany / zoology. The electives could be one of the following: biology, computer science, zoology, statistics, microbiology, biochemistry, home science, nursing, or nutritional dietetics.

Age limit is not more than 21 years as on the first day of July (respective year of admission).

For admission to TNAU colleges, Tamil Nadu nativity is a must. Seats are available under the Non-Resident Indians and industrial sponsorship quota for all the programmes. Others are required to produce a certificate of permanent residence in Tamil Nadu.

A maximum of 2 attempts is allowed to appear for the qualifying examination. Those belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes can attempt 3 times.

To appear for the qualifying examination, the minimum aggregate mark category-wise is:

Open competition: 55% aggregate marks of all the four subjects

Backward caste (BC) & Backward Caste (especially) Muslims: 50% aggregate

Most Backward Caste (MBC) and denotified: 45% aggregate

SC & ST: A pass in qualifying examination.

To pursue agricultural engineering, students who have completed secondary education with the combination Math, Physics, Chemistry and Biology or Math, Physics, Chemistry and Computer Science are eligible. All other criteria are the same.

Application forms for admission to courses are issued at respective campuses between May and June of the academic year. The same can be downloaded from the website too.

Admission is based on merit-rank of All-India agriculture entrance examination. The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi, conducts an All India level entrance examination for admission to its four-year degree and two-year Master's programme in agriculture and allied subjects every year. The notification for examination date and other details are published in December/January every year.

Successful completion of the examination enables students to seek admission in any of the agricultural education institutions in the country, including the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.

TNAU registered agricultural colleges and courses

Undergraduate programs

In total there are 13 undergraduate courses which students can pursue in select campuses. The duration of the course is four years, two semesters per year. Some of the courses provide dual degree option.

Agriculture Science Programs

B.Sc (Agriculture)

B.Sc (Horticulture)

B.Sc (Sericulture)

B.Sc (Forestry)

B.Sc (Home Science)

B. Tech (Agricultural Engineering).

Agriculture Technology Programs

B.S (Agri-business Management)

B.Tech (Horticulture)

B.Tech (Sericulture)

B.Tech (Food Process Engineering)

B.Tech (Agriculture Biotechnology)

B.Tech (Energy and Environmental Engineering)

B.Tech (Agricultural Information Technology)

List of Government Agriculture Colleges in Tamil Nadu

Agricultural College and Research Institute (AC & RI), Coimbatore

Horticultural College and Research Institute, Coimbatore

Agricultural Engineering College and Research Institute, Coimbatore

School of Post Graduate Studies, Coimbatore

Forest College and Research Institute, Mettupalayam, Coimbatore

Agriculture College and Research Institute (AC & RI), Madurai

Home Science College and Research Institute, Madurai

Agriculture College and Research Institute (AC & RI), Killikulam

Anbildharmalingam Agricultural College and Research Institute, Trichy

Horticultural College and Research Institute for Women, Dindigul, Trichy

Horticultural College and Research Institute, Periyakulam, Madurai

Colleges affiliated to TNAU

Besides colleges of TNAU, other options to consider are agricultural colleges affiliated to TNAU.

Adiparasakthi Agriculture College, Vellore

B.Sc (agriculture)

B.Sc (Horticulture Science)

Diploma in Agriculture

M.Sc (Plant Pathology)

M.Sc (Horticulture- vegetable science).

Home Science College and Research Institute, Madurai

Post Graduate Diploma in Food Technology.

Imayam Institute of Agriculture and Technology, Trichy

B.Sc (Agriculture)

Madras Christian College (MCC) (Autonomous), Chennai

B.Sc (Plant Science and Plant Biotechnology)

School of Post Graduate Studies, Coimbatore

M.Sc (Agriculture)
PhD (Agriculture)

Stella Maris College, Chennai

B.Sc (Plant Science and Plant Biotechnology)

Thanthai Roever Institute of Agriculture and Rural Development (TRIARD), Perambalur

Diploma in Agriculture
Diploma in Horticulture
B.Sc (Agriculture)

The Gandhigram Rural Institute, Dindigul

Diploma in Agriculture
B.Sc (Agriculture)
M.Sc (Dairy Technology)

UPASI Tea Research Foundation, Valparai, Coimbatore

Vanavarayar Institute of Agriculture, Coimbatore

Diploma in Agriculture
B.Sc (Agriculture)
M.Sc (Genetics and Plant Breeding)

Getting ahead

After graduating in agricultural science, a student can pursue post graduation. A degree of M. Sc. or Master of Science can be followed by a degree of PhD in specialized branches.

Career prospects in Agriculture studies

Ours is an agriculture based economy. Besides being employed in public sector and private sectors, self-employment options are aplenty.

Private sector jobs in areas like fertilizer, food inspector jobs, Agriculture Marketing, Banking, Forestry, Home Science, Horticulture, Dairy Technology, Fisheries Science, Food Science & Technology, Sericulture, Veterinary Science.

Commercial farming MNCs like ITC, Monsanto & Cargill require young agriculture graduates.

Insurance companies and banks also recruit agriculture graduates.

The teaching field requires post graduates and candidates pursuing PhD.

For consideration in public sector, prospective candidates need to appear for tests conducted by PSC (Public Service Commission), UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) and also SSC (State Service Commission) for placement in Indian Agricultural Research Institute, National Seeds Corporation Limited, North Eastern Region Agricultural Marketing Corporation and State Farms Corporation of India.

Career prospects – Horticulture

Being a field dealing with fruits, vegetables and ornamental flowers, it is a diversified field with vast career opportunities. If pursuing post graduate studies in horticulture, options to specialize include floriculturist, olericulturist or pomologist.

Olericulturist (vegetable growing specialist) is required in research institutes, universities and in private sector farms that concentrate in growing vegetables.

Floriculturist (growing, marketing of flowers and foliage plants) must be good in planning and designing exterior/interior landscapes; can freelance or find full-time jobs in parks, city planners and builders, cosmetics and perfume industry, recreational areas, institutions, industrial sites, play grounds, shopping malls etc. Government agencies, landscape architectural firms, tourism and hotel industry and resorts too need the services of floriculturist. Self-employment opportunities include setting up own venture growing flowers for the domestic or export market, growing ornamental plants, nurseries or providing gardening and landscaping advisory services.

Pomologist (study growing healthy breed of fruits and nuts, maintain the trees and bushes healthily). These specialists are required in laboratories, orchards, greenhouses and on farms by government institutions, agricultural organizations as well as private agencies.

Career prospects in Sericulture

Silk enjoys demand within as well outside India. Sericulture is about mass-rearing of silk producing organisms to obtain silk. The entire process comprises many components which in turn require qualified personnel. Sericulture offers wide range of career options including self-entrepreneurship.

Government silk research centers, silk boards, academic field, sericulture units, agriculture banks require graduates and post graduates in sericulture.

Recruited in agricultural loan sector of nationalized banks as officers and managers.

Employment opportunities available in sericulture farm, grainage, silk reeling, silk weaving mill, dyeing, printing and spinning mill etc.

Career prospects in Forestry

Forestry study is about care of forests, the management of growing timber. There are many aspects of forestry. The conflict between development activities without destroying or disturbing our forests is high. Rejuvenating forests, caring, maintaining and protecting forests, the list is vast. Career options are:

Tutor in education sector

Work as a forester

Dendrologist (study ways and means of tree improvement)

Ethnologist (Study and analyze evolution, behavior, biological functions of an organism in the natural environment, also study animal behavior)

Entomologist (study and control diseases caused by insects and pests)

Silviculturist (growth of plantations that yield periodic harvests)

Forest Range Officer (care for public forests, sanctuaries, botanical gardens etc)

Zoo curators (responsible for animal welfare in zoos, administration activities in zoo, captive breeding)

Other options abroad includes working as wildlife consultants.

Career prospects in Agricultural Engineering

Agricultural engineering involves support in increasing agricultural production. Conservation, development and management of soil and water, improvement in agricultural farm machinery, farm structures, rural electrification, bio-gas, design and develop processes are part of agricultural engineering.

Various public sector undertakings require agricultural engineers. Fresh graduates begin with job roles of lab assistant or field officer. Experienced agricultural engineers can work as researchers, scientists, business analyst, database specialists etc.

Agro processing, food industry, agricultural power and equipment design, in banks and insurance companies require agricultural engineers. Private firms dealing with agricultural production and processing recruit agricultural engineers.

Opting for research programs in agriculture and becoming agricultural scientists or diversifying into agri-business management, IPR law, agricultural biotechnology etc improves prospects.

Post graduates and PhD degree holders interested in teaching can consider the academic field and qualify as lecturer/ teacher in agriculture studies.

Agribusiness management career prospects

Every aspect of business management with focus on agriculture is agribusiness management. The subject offers wider scope and is not restricted to agriculture alone. It can stretch up to careers in real estate, retail marketing, food processing and investments as well. Government and private organizations covering agricultural inputs, food and banking sectors require agri business managers. Entrepreneurial opportunities as analysts, counselors, co-ordinators are worth exploring.

Food processing engineering career prospects

Though at a nascent stage, the food processing sector in India is fast growing. The varied aspects of food processing such as procuring, cleaning, chopping, blanching, crushing, mixing, cooking of the food, adding select preservatives, packaging and ensuring distributional efficiency require qualified persons. An ambitious project of setting up 500 food parks across India by the Ministry of Food Processing offers exponential job opportunities. USA, UK and European markets too require professionals specialized in food processing. Research scientists, food technologist, biochemists, organic chemists are some of the different roles of a food processing engineer.

Agriculture biotechnology career prospects

Agriculture biotechnology has wide application in genetic engineering, genetic modification, genetic improvement, molecular diagnostics, molecular markers, vaccines, tissue culture etc. The focus is to enable farmers to increase the yield of plant and animal products, prevent damage from insects and pests and reduce farming's impact on environment. Thus the role of an agriculture bio technologist is multifarious.

Agriculture-based biotechnologists are employed by research organizations, agri-biotech related fields like horticulture, floriculture, dairying, poultry, farming and fishery.

Agriculture information technology career prospects

Exploring agriculture with information technology has gained wide importance. Information Technology applications are developed to provide support and education to agriculture academia and farmers. Relevant information about agro-inputs, crop production technologies, agro processing, market support, agro-finance and management of farm is available to farmers and academia. The sector promises tremendous growth.

Agricultural studies in Tamil Nadu