Agriculture courses get 25% more applicants in Maharashtra

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By Musab Qazi

The number of applicants for seven ‘technical’ undergraduate (UG) agriculture courses has jumped from 51,822 in 2017 to 64,619 this year, which marks an increase of 25%

Mumbai: Even as bumper harvests and low prices plunge farmers across Maharashtra into distress, the state has witnessed a surge in aspirants for agricultural academic programmes.

The number of applicants for seven ‘technical’ undergraduate (UG) agriculture courses has jumped from 51,822 in 2017 to 64,619 this year, which marks an increase of 25%. More than four students are vying for each seat as the combined intake for these courses at 173 agricultural institutes is 14,557.

This is the first admission cycle after the state government classified all ten agricultural courses as professional courses. Students will now be admitted to these courses on the basis of their scores in entrance tests conducted by the state and the central government. While the registration process for the seven technical agriculture courses was completed last week, students seeking admission to the three ‘non-technical’ courses – BSc (Agricultural Business Management), BSc (Animal Husbandry) and Bachelor of Fisheries Science – is still on.

Until this year, only three courses – BTech Bio-Technology, BTech Food Technology and BTech Agricultural Engineering – were designated professional courses.

Agriculture students find employment in new ventures in the farming sector and allied industries, which are reportedly thriving even as traditional farming faces an uncertain future. India’s agriculture sector hasn’t been generating enough revenue to keep farmers profitable for nearly two decades now, according to a study by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER).

“Students opting for technical courses receive industrial training and are readily hired by seed companies, food processing and agriculture machinery manufacturing units. The food processing industry, especially, is likely to grow in the years to come,” said Manoj Pawar, assistant professor, College of Food Technology, Naigaon (Nanded). The growing popularity of new ventures in farming sectors such as corporate farming (in which a group of farmers join hands to cultivate a large tract of land) is also generating employment opportunities for students.

“Many graduates take civil service examinations. It’s an ongoing trend. If they don’t find government jobs, they go for banking jobs,” said Sayyed Sikanadar Ejaz, assistant registrar, College of Agriculture, Pune.

The rising popularity for agriculture courses stands in the contrast to the decreasing demand for engineering programmes, which have traditionally been the most popular professional courses. Data from the state’s Directorate of Technical Education (DTE) shows that around 1.06 lakh students registered for the centralised admission process for undergraduate engineering courses. Last year, the directorate had received 1.19 lakh applications, which was 11% more than this year.

In recent times, agriculture courses have seen growing interest across India, which saw 1.2 lakh candidates appearing for the national level entrance test for UG courses for the academic year of 2017-2018. In the previous year, around 1.06 lakh candidate – 14,000 fewer than in 2015-2016 – had taken the test, which is conducted by Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) for 15% all India quota seats in agriculture colleges across the country.

Source: Hindustan Times

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