From a seed to a tree

From a seed to a tree

Dr SB Dandin suggests a well-structured course in agriculture and allied sciences, right from the primary school level to the post graduate level, for the elevation of agriculture in our agro-economical country.

Agriculture which is the main stay of Indian socio-economy is becoming less and less attractive to the younger generation in recent years, mainly due to high cost and uncertainty of quality inputs including certified seed and planting material, uncertain market and high rate of price fluctuation, non-availability of farm labourers, acute shortage of energy for irrigation, fast degradation of natural resources i.e. soil, water, air and vegetation besides climate change effects.

As a result, a majority of the rural youth is migrating enmass to urban and semi-urban areas in search of alternate livelihood options. This has created new problem of non availability of young workforce in villages. Added to this, some of the government policies have misconstruedly made the rural people a non-working entity. If these issues are not addressed immediately, there will be disastrous impact on agriculture as a whole. 

The need of the hour is to create awareness about the potential of agriculture and allied activities as a source of income, employment, and food security, both among the rural and urban masses. Besides, there is a need to inculcate agricultural skills in youths to increase their employability and productivity. These are quite large scale implementations and therefore call for large-scale changes. To begin with, farm-oriented education streams must be introduced right from higher-primary to intermediate and graduate level. Employment and entrepreneurship development opportunities must be offered liberally.
To achieve the above aspects, an exclusive programme of Agriculture learning (A-Learning), similar to E-Learning, seems imperative. Since women constitute major component of agriculture work force, they need a special emphasis in development programmes. Towards this, a special attention for identifying, developing, popularizing women friendly technologies is essential. In majority of the cases women have some problem to go away from their home places leaving behind their household activities and children - for such cases, short duration training programmes in nearby places should be the norm.

Here’s a suggested structure for A-Learning courses: Pre-Degree Courses In Agriculture And Allied Sciences

I. Primary and High School Level Education: Agriculture learning shall be made compulsory with agriculture as a portion of science subject. Schools shall be given some teaching aids and trained science teachers. The studies shall cover the important aspects like natural resources and their management (land, water, air, biodiversity etc.,) crop husbandry and crop protection.

II. PUC & Intermediate Level Education: Agriculture shall be made as one of the electives in addition to mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology in all pre-degree colleges and degree colleges. Syllabus shall be vocationally driven, teachers trained, and shall cover major aspects of agriculture like soil science, crop husbandry, crop protection, post-harvest processing, preservation and marketing.

III. Vocational Education (2 years): Agriculture learning shall be offered in few selected colleges to start with where facilities are already in place and later shall be expanded to other colleges/institutions in rural areas. Some percentage (Quota) of seats shall be earmarked for these students to get admission for BSc in Agriculture and allied degree courses so that their upward mobilization could be possible as an avenue for higher learning. This aspect needs more serious and immediate attention as the system is already in place and may need only re-strengthening.

IV. Diploma Courses (2 years): Two year diploma courses in all Agriculture/ Horticulture/ Forestry/Animal husbandry hall be started in colleges. The students coming out of these courses shall be given seats for BSc in Agril / Horti / Animal husbandry. If need be some seats can be reserved for these candidates and selection shall be made on merit basis.

V. Certificate Courses (1 year): Similar to the 2 years diploma course, one more option can be created to offer certificate course in agriculture and allied sciences in all the agriculture and other farm based university and their nested colleges.

This would provide an insight into the agriculture subject to the SSLC / PUC  passed candidates for starting self-employment activities. This one year course may cover topics like nursery and seed protection, crop protection, animal protection, production and distribution of bio-control agents, post-harvest processing and value addition, and farm machinery repair service.

One Year PG Diploma Course

In this one year post graduate diploma course, students can specialize in one of the topics that was earlier covered in PU or degree levels.
Some of the colleges are already offering these courses to generate the human resource with specialized knowledge / skill in a specific area of activity like precision farming, protected horticulture, production and distribution bio-control agents, micro propagation, home sciences, food preservation, cold storage management, animal health care, and the likes.

Non-Structured Informal Training Programmes

These programmes shall be aimed basically at training and inculcating skill to the less educated farming youths and agriculture workforce in the rural areas. These trainings can be offered in KVKs, Research Stations (ARS / HRS) Departmental Training Centers / Schools and also other organizations involved in agriculture promotional activities including NGOs.  Duration of the courses vary from one week to six / three months based on the need and nature of the course being offered. This is of more relevance in a today’s context, where unemployed and less educated rural youths can be given an opportunity to serve in their native places by equipping them with better and required knowledge and skill.  At the end of each and every training, the trainees shall be given small tools/equipment, and other study materials.

(The writer is the Vice-Chancellor of University of Horticultural Sciences, Bagalkot)

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