Briefing

Inflation in Agricultural Education Has Diluted Standards, Writes former V-C S S Chahal in Indian Express

The Union Minister for Agriculture, Shri Radha Mohan Singh reviewing the preparation for laying of foundation stone of the National Agricultural Research Institute, in Barahi, Jharkhand on June 22, 2015.

India should be at the cutting edge of agricultural research given the huge expansion in agricultural education that has taken places over the past two decades. There are 61 agricultural universities, including a recently opened one in Bengaluru, 15 universities devoted to veterinary and animal sciences, five horticultural and forestry universities, three for fisheries and one for dairying.  In addition there are 159 private agricultural colleges affiliated to state agricultural universities (SAUs).

But inflation has come at the expense of quality, writes S S Chahal, former vice-chancellor of Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology, Udaipur, in the Indian Express. Only 58 universities have full or partial accreditation from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).  Only eight figure among the top 100 in the HRD ministry’s National Institutional Ranking Framework, 2017. These are: Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Delhi; Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, both in Ludhiana; Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore; Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Chennai; Anand Agricultural University, Anand; Y S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan;  and Rajasthan University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Bikaner.

Less than a fifth of about 30,000 graduates clear ICAR’s National Eligibility Test, which is a prerequisite for recruitment as lecturer or assistant professor in SAUs. Graduates, especially from the newer institutions, are found to be largely unemployable with little theoretical and practical knowledge.

Chahal blames the low and differing quality of education on the states. While they are generous with approvals for new institutions, they have little money to fund them.

ICAR requires a college to have 75 acres in the plains and 40 acres in the hills. But it is merely a recommending body. Colleges can be set up on 25 acres within municipal limits and 35 acres outside municipal limits in the plains. In the hills, the campuses can be of 10 acres and 25 acres respectively. Even this criterion is often not met, writes Chahal.

The former vice-chancellor likes the idea of mentorship. The first six SAUs in the sixties were tagged to a US land grant university. PAU, for instance, was linked to Ohio State University, which prepared the faculty for teaching and research. There should be a similar tagging of SAUs not making the grade with IARI or SAUs in the HRD ministry’s top-100 list.  Chahal also recommends that ICAR be given the authority to regulate agricultural education in the country like the medical,bar and dental councils of India.

(Top photo of Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh at inauguration of a new IARI institute at Barhi, near Hazaribagh, Bihar, June 2015. Yet another poorly-funded institute. Photo courtesy PIB).

Email This Page

Leave a Comment


Hit Counter provided by technology news
Web Design MymensinghPremium WordPress ThemesWeb Development

I Do Not Understand Bt Cotton technology; I Know It Works

Kallanagouda PatilY Kallanagouda Patil, 46, of Uppinbetegeri village in Dharwad taluk  owns 52 acres jointly with his three brothers. He holds a diploma in agriculture from a school in Raichur. Patil grows cotton on ten acres, apart from sugarcane, potato, Bengal gram, jowar, tur,moong and vegetables. He uses groundwater to irrigate his fields. The water is drawn from a depth of 280 feet. Electricity is free so he flood irrigates the fields, except the one under banana  where he uses drip irrigation. He does not micro-irrigate cotton because it is closely planted and has to make way for another crop after eight months. This farmer has his cost all worked out. Making quick mental calculations, he estimates the cost of cotton crop at Rs 22,500 an acre and the realization from 17 quintals an acre at Rs 68,000. He had planted Bayer seed. ‘I do not understand technology, he says, all I know is if I use Bt seed there will be no

Pests Snack on Chilly But Not Cotton

RudagiF Basavaraj Rudagi, 48, did not grow cotton before 2008. This farmer from Saundhi village in Dharwad district’s Kundogol taluk made a partial switch to Bt cotton as chilly was susceptible to pest attack and yield was declining. From five acres in 2009, Rudagi had fifteen of a forty acre joint farm under cotton this year, when smartindianagriculture  caught up with him in February. He tried out Bayer in a change from Mahyco and Raasi seed. Rudagi says he got 11.5 quintals (100 kg) an acre from his rain-fed crop and at Rs 4,050 a quintal, his realization was a little over Rs 46,000. The cost, he says, is Rs 26,000 an acre, excluding rental earnings had he leased out the land. This does not mesh with the profit he claims he makes, but then he admits to not keeping crop-wise accounts. Rudagi also grows peanuts, coriander, gram, safflower and jowar. There is safety in diversity. And yes he plants pigeon pea or tur around the cotton crop for bollworms to feed on so they are not forced by the survival instinct to develop resistance to Bt protein.  In this sense he is quite a cut apart. Low cotton prices are worrying but what is the alternative?