“We start issuing applications only in the first week of May after the Class 12 board exam results are out. But, there are already hundreds of inquiries every day,” said S Mahimairaja, agriculture dean and admissions in charge at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) in Coimbatore, which runs 13 colleges, including seven private institutions.
That agriculture graduates are sought after in the rural banking sector, do well in civil services exams, and are expected to play a key role in the coming ‘second green revolution’ and in ensuring food security are all factors that draw school-leaving candidates to the course, academics said.
Founder of education consultancy Technocrat IndiaCollegeFinder.com D Nedunchezhiyan said the course was a “hot favourite” because both state and central governments wanted to give the agriculture sector a fillip and needed agriculture graduates.
With the population in Indian villages coming down from 68% to 42%, the government is keen on retaining able youth in villages, said TNAU vice-chancellor K Ramasamy. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s Attracting Rural Youth to Agriculture (ARYA) scheme is one such effort. In seven years, the government increased the number of agriculture universities in the state from 39 to more than 60 now.
He said there were ample opportunities for candidates looking for private practice and those keen on higher education and research. “Europe, Africa and South America are constantly looking for agriculture graduates to provide expert consultation for their lands. Germany particularly is interested, because of earlier academic ties and cultural similarities between the two countries,” Ramasamy said.
Now, agricultural land and water availability are declining and it’s mostly small farmers. “We have to concentrate on developing the technical knowhow to help them improve their yield with few resources. So, the opportunity for the next few years in this field will be absolutely bright. People are aware that villages need technocrats to address these problems, and are more than willing to engage in this,” professor Ramasamy said.