1. Career Overview
Agriculture as an occupation has existed from time immemorial. Over a period of time, as with any field, Agriculture is also benefitted by the growth in science. Agricultural science involves understanding the biology that covers natural, economic and social sciences that are then used in the practice and understanding of agriculture.
Agriculture is the backbone of a country’s economy and taking up a career that will directly support and enhance such an industry is beneficial - to the individual, the community and the country as a whole.
2. Role Models
The varied geography, weather conditions and population explosion have made Agricultural Science a challenging field to be successful in. But these challenges present opportunities to innovate and make a difference at the same time. Below are a few key contributors who stood up during crisis and revolutionized the field of Agricultural Science:
Dr. M.S. Swaminathan
Dr. M.S Swaminathan is synonymous with the success of India’s Green Revolution program. He was a qualified genetist, who channeled his knowledge in solving the Bengal famine in 1943. His contributions led to India being self-sufficient in the production of wheat and rice.
George Washington Carver
George Carver revolutionized the growth and uses of peanuts. He was instrumental in reviving the agricultural economy, for example, by levying varying tariffs on imported peanuts.
Norman Borlaug was an American, known for revolutionizing the way agriculture was being done by combining plant innovations with modern farming methods. He is famous for developing disease resisting high yield wheat varieties, which led to the Green Revolution all over the world. In fact, he is popularly known as the ‘Father of the Green Revolution’.
3. Education Track
A strong knowledge in Botany, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics is a pre-requisite to opt for a career in Agricultural Science. To start with, a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science is required after completing 10+2 level in school. Majority of the universities offer B.Sc. in Agricultural Sciences, while some offer Diploma and B.Tech. courses. For both options, focus on science is needed at the school level in order to gain admission to the graduate course. In order to grant admission, some colleges follow state level entrance examinations.
Many institutes specialize in Agricultural Science education. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) releases rank list of universities every year. Below are a few universities that are noted for the faculty and campus facilities for Agricultural Science:
- National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Haryana
- Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi
- Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Punjab
- Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University (CCSHAU), Haryana
- University of Agricultural Sciences, Karnataka
A master's degree makes way for a job as agricultural scientist to start with. Also, if you have a flair for management, there are MBA courses in Agriculture that will enable you to pursue the relevant role. Doctorate and post doctorate qualifications are required for researchers and teaching profession.
Though it is possible to get a job with a bachelor’s degree, in order to grow in the field of research, master’s and doctorate qualifications are very advantageous. The above listed universities have state of the art campus and offer research facilities as well.
4. Specialization or Branches
Agricultural Science is very broad and has a number of specializations. Below are a few major branches:
Study that involves the improvement of the end product of agriculture i.e., food. The study covers the entire process - right from manufacturing, processing, preservation and distribution of food. Candidates with an aptitude for business can choose this area as the study involves monetizing the production of food.
Plant science is aimed at improving the genetic nature of plants to yield produce high in quantity and quality. This field is research oriented and requires a flair for innovation and experimentation.
Study of the nature of soil is very important for an Agricultural Science and improve the way agriculture is done. Given the lack of land available for agriculture, any improvements in efficiently using the available land and maximize produce is valued highly.
5. Career Path
In the Research stream, you can start as a scientist with a bachelor’s degree, and grow in to a subject matter expert in a specific branch of Agricultural Science. If you choose teaching, then the growth path is similar to other teaching roles i.e., start from a lecturer and grow till the Head of the Department and Dean. In other agencies, it is possible to reach till the Director level by branching out in to a management role.
If you are looking for something more challenging than employment, and if have a penchant for business, then there are entrepreneurial opportunities in the field. Many startups are foraying in to this field, especially with technology related innovations. So, after spending a few years gaining relevant experience and contacts, you can look at starting up your own firm.
6. Job Roles
6.1 Government Sector
There are numerous opportunities for Agricultural Scientists in the government agencies such as the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. The recruitment is managed by the Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board.
6.1 Government Sector
Teaching is also a sought-after role for candidates qualified in Agricultural Science. If you have attained educational qualifications in specific branches, then there are a number of opportunities to join as a faculty. It is also possible to continue the research and attain higher qualifications such as doctorate and post doctorate while you are teaching the subject.
There a number of private companies that are in to research. Employment with such companies offers access to good facilities for conducting research as well as good remuneration. Government agencies also offer research opportunities. With increased focus and budget allocation for agriculture by the governments, there is good demand for Agricultural Scientists internationally as well.
With the knowledge acquired in Agricultural Science, and if you have specialized in an area, for example, soil studies, then there are opportunities in related industries such as construction and geology as well.
Remuneration is also good in this field as you gain more experience. Government jobs pay as much as INR 75,000/month, for posts at the Director level. Private firms also pay as much as INR 16 L for senior scientists and researchers.
India is the seventh largest country in the world and is a leader in the production of a number of products such as sugar, spices etc., There is a lot of scope to make a career in Agricultural Science, and stay relevant and needed. The importance given to agriculture is increasing all around the world, and there is no dearth for jobs in India as well as abroad.