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Policy Options for Planning Agricultural Education in India

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Human Capital Needs in Agriculture and Allied Sectors - Policy Options

National Academy of Agriculture Research Management
(NAARM, Hyderabad) and Institute of Applied Manpower Research
(IAMR, New Delhi)

The Backdrop
Agriculture sector is the mainstay of Indian economy ensuring food security and providing livelihood to millions involved either directly or indirectly with this sector. This sector has a strong mutually beneficial interface with the industry sector. Notwithstanding its declining share in country’s GDP, agriculture continues, and will continue to be the key to nation’s growth and development. Over the years Indian agriculture had made tremendous progress which, in a large measure, is directly or indirectly, due to the contributions of agricultural science and technology, and development of human skills to take advantage of the technology, be it through development of improved seed and planting material, plant protection, irrigation and soil conservation measures, mechanization and other productive agricultural practices as well as in putting on ground a massive infrastructure for extension work and transfer of technology to the farmers. In recent times, however, the pattern of agricultural growth has become somewhat erratic. The challenges that Indian agriculture faces today because of factors like shrinkage of available land, decline in soil quality and response to inputs, inadequate and uneven penetration of technology and skills, and above all factors induced by the inexorable forces of international competition and climate change are indeed huge both dimensionally as well as in complexity. The obstacles posed by these factors to accelerated development of agriculture that is required to meet the Plan targets and to ensure nation’s food security can only be overcome with increased inputs of problem-oriented research, transfer of knowledge and practical skills. Human resource planning is an essential element for achieving sustained growth in any sector. With the changing global scenario and technological innovations, a need has been felt to address qualitative and quantitative issues relating to human resource.
Evolution of Agricultural Education in India
Even though rudimentary infrastructure for educational development and agriculture and veterinary sciences existed for some years before Independence, it is only after the attainment of freedom that the importance of development of agricultural manpower resources had attracted the attention of the government. An Agricultural Personnel Committee was constituted to assess the requirements of agricultural professional manpower at various levels, and had submitted its report in 1955. Over the next six decades agricultural higher education has evolved rapidly.
Higher Agricultural Education
In the public system, agricultural research and education activities are coordinated by ICAR at national level and State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) at state level. Though the central government supports agriculture development activities, the share of state governments outweighs that of the centre as agriculture is a state subject. The SAUs receive funds from respective state governments, ICAR, central government and other agencies in that order. In recent years, there is a considerable level of participation of the private sector in agricultural development, particularly in States like Maharashtra.
The establishment of SAUs on the pattern similar to that of the Land Grant Colleges of the United States made a landmark in reorganizing and strengthening agricultural education system. The contributions made by these universities and other institutions accorded the status of deemed-to-be universities, as partners of the National Agricultural Research System (NARS), are well recognized. The green revolution, with its impressive social and economic impact, would not have been possible without the significant contributions made by these centres of learning in the form of development of trained scientific human resource, the generation and assessment of new technologies and their dissemination to the farming community.
The number of agricultural universities increased from a mere two in 1960 to 57 in 2011, and the number of general universities imparting agricultural education from 11 to 34 during the same period. During the past three decades, there has been a threefold growth in the infrastructure for education in agricultural universities. This development has relied heavily on funding from the public sector, and very few linkages established with organizations in the private sector.
Today, there are 57 agricultural universities, including one Central Agricultural University and four research institutes in agriculture and allied sciences with the status of deemed universities. In addition, there are 34 other universities, which also offer educational programmes in agriculture and allied sciences. In all, there are 626 colleges in the country (360 in SAU’s/DUs, 163 colleges affiliated to SAUs and 103 colleges in general universities and other central institutions), which impart education in the field of agriculture and allied sciences. These institutions, put together, annually admit about 40,000 students a year with an outturn of 28,000 graduates, post-graduates and doctorates in agriculture and allied sciences in the country. Thus, India has a largest network of education in agriculture by having facilities for education in 13 disciplines at undergraduate level and more than 95 subjects at postgraduate level through constituent and affiliated colleges/faculties. It has currently a vast pool of 2.85 lakhs of active agricultural graduates and post-graduates.
The ICAR has been taking steps to ensure that the supply of manpower with higher education in agriculture and allied sciences matches the demand both quantitatively as well as qualitatively. It has commissioned studies to assess the demand time to time. Periodic review of the course curricula and syllabi is undertaken through the mechanism of Deans’ Committees (the fourth Deans’ Committee being the most recent exercise in this area). A system of accreditation of agricultural universities has also been put in place to ensure quality.
Agricultural Education below Graduate Level
Agricultural education, as outlined above, was generally designed in the past to create trained research and extension professionals at higher levels. The practitioners of agriculture (and allied fields) have not had adequate opportunities for acquisition and development of their knowledge and skills in a formal way in the various newly emerging areas that are expected to add significant value to agricultural production. This position is now being corrected. Some of the State Agricultural Universities offer two-year courses in agriculture leading to Diplomas. Currently, these universities produce about seven thousand diploma holders. At the school level, under the scheme of Vocationalization of Secondary Education, subjects are taught, inter alia, in agricultural vocations. There are also several short term training programmes leading to certificates, both in the public sector as well as at the initiatives of private sector notably by NGOs.
With the exception of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, agricultural education as a separate stream does not exist at the school level. Even the Committee on Agricultural Education set up by ICAR in 1997 did not recommend its introduction as a separate subject. At 10+2 level the Committee recommended that agriculture could be introduced as an additional optional subject. In the absence of academic and financial support from any national or state agency, education at school level is almost a non-starter in other states. Some changes are taking place in this scenario. For example, Madhya Pradesh government has initiated steps to introduce aspects of agriculture in the school curriculum from primary level education onwards, which is a welcome change.
In spite of these recent initiatives, it must be said that below graduate education skill development in agriculture and allied sciences is still in its nascent stage.
Contemporary Issues and Concerns
Although higher agricultural education has generally kept pace with requirements in the past, the increase in demand is much faster and more diversified today. The extent of scientific advances in the fields of biotechnology, computers and communications allows shorter assimilation periods. Moreover, the public sector educational and research institutions and promotional agencies, which have been the traditionally the main sources of employment for agricultural professionals are being gradually replaced by private industry and services. In a global economy, food processing, storage and marketing have become increasingly important to agriculture producers, and thus to agricultural education. The specific reasons for the crisis in the agricultural education system have been that the agricultural education is isolated from the market place and from the rest of the education system. This isolation has been leading to curricula irrelevance, falling teaching and learning standards, unattractive employment opportunities and thus, decreasing investment support. Responses to such crisis were mostly fragmented and inward looking. According to the situation, agricultural education has taken responsibility only for a limited clientele, and has not addressed the needs of all stakeholders, particularly those of the grass root level agricultural practitioners at one extreme and of professionals needed in agribusiness at the other.

There is a need for institutions to develop ways of keeping in touch with the employment market and adapting agricultural education curricula accordingly. It was felt that, ideally, institutions should set up permanent mechanisms for observation of the job-market and adaptation of courses, but it was acknowledged that institutional inflexibility and lack of resources would often make this difficult to achieve.
Thus, it is generally felt that there is a need to improve the agricultural education system quantitatively as well as qualitatively to remove the mismatch between what is required by the economy and what is produced. It is in this context, that the National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP), ICAR commissioned a study to assess the requirements of the human capital requirements in agriculture and allied sciences over the next decade. The study, which has been jointly executed by the National Academy for Agricultural Research Management (NAARM) and the Institute of Applied Manpower Research (IAMR) during 2009-11, is based on responses from agricultural universities, 4880 employees with degree in agricultural sciences, 2100 alumni, 3500 industrial organizations employing agricultural graduates. About fifty Focus Group Discussions have also been organized with various stakeholders including industries, educational institutions, teaching faculty, students, financial institutions, farmers and their associations and other experts.

Educational Planning

The study assessed not only the gap between demand and supply, but also various quality aspects and institutional frame work, too. Some important findings of the study are outlined below:

a) Annual flow of supply and demand

Table-1: Required annual outturn by education level in 2010 (Supply) & 2020 (Demand)

Discipline | UG | PG | PhD | All | | 2010 | 2020 | 2010 | 2020 | 2010 | 2020 | 2010 | 2020 | Crop Science | 11852 | 18659 | 3514 | 5422 | 583 | 1203 | 15949 | 25284 | Horticulture | 1001 | 7295 | 409 | 993 | 55 | 330 | 1465 | 8618 | Veterinary | 1761 | 5332 | 797 | 1854 | 125 | 486 | 2683 | 7672 | Fisheries | 285 | 2096 | 109 | 418 | 30 | 100 | 424 | 2614 | Dairy | 255 | 2605 | 30 | 503 | 25 | 207 | 310 | 3315 | Agri-Biotech | 558 | 582 | 156 | 323 | 20 | 134 | 734 | 1039 | Agri-Engg | 1218 | 2359 | 262 | 709 | 27 | 189 | 1507 | 3256 | Forestry | 386 | 1260 | 275 | 416 | 55 | 156 | 716 | 1832 | Total | 17316 | 40188 | 5553 | 10638 | 920 | 2805 | 23788 | 53630 | Source: Report on Human capital Requirements in Agriculture and Allied Sectors,2011

With the demand projections made in the NAARM-IAMR study for the eight sub-sectors (namely crops, horticulture, forestry, veterinary, fishery, dairy, agri-engineering and agri-biotechnology), the required annual outturn for the year 2020 in comparison to the actual supply during 2010 is given in Table-1.
At present the existing education system is producing about 24,000 graduates per year with crop sciences contributing 2/3rd of it. The projections indicate that by 2020 the annual outturn required would have to be about 54,000. Based on the current supply the demand-supply gap would be 30,000.

b) Demand supply gap
Table-2: Demand –Supply Gap in Stock of Agricultural Graduates Discipline | Demand-supply gap as % of demand | | 2009-10(Base year) | Projections for 2019-20 | | | At current levels of outturns | With outturns growing @5%annually | With outturns growing @ 10% annually | 1. Agriculture | 37.0 | 35.9 | 27.4 | 17.2 | 2. Horticulture | 78.2 | 82.4 | 72.9 | 77.4 | 3. Forestry | 80.6 | 77.7 | 71.9 | 70.8 | 4. Dairy Technology | 67.9 | 76.2 | 75.7 | 69.5 | 5.Veterinary Science | 9.2 | 29.1 | 28.5 | 9.1 | 6. Agricultural Engineering | (-) 26.6 | 5.7 | -18.9 | -19.9 | 7. Fisheries Science | 65.9 | 77.7 | 76.4 | 71.4 | 8. Agri-Biotechnology | 47.2 | 29.5 | -115.6 | -5.8 | All categories | 42.0 | 46.2 | 37.2 | 30.6 |
Source: Report on Human Capital Requirements in Agriculture and Allied Sectors, 2011 Tables 15.1 and 15.2

There is a substantial shortage in the available stock of graduates, post-graduates and doctorates in agriculture and allied disciplines in relations to the requirements to the extent of 10 to 80 per cent (Table-2). This is true across all disciplines. This shortage is likely to snowball to a much larger extent unless corrective steps are taken immediately.

During the last decade, outturn of graduates and above grew at an annual rate of 5% and in the coming decade it is projected that it has to grow at twice this rate to meet the emerging demand levels. In terms of annual flows from the educational system, the current levels of graduate, postgraduate and PhD output need to be increased by 2.3, 1.9 and 3.0 times respectively.
c) Additional colleges to be established
There is, thus, a need to establish new colleges/ universities to meet the growing demand for agricultural graduates along with increasing capacity utilisation of existing systems by improving system efficiency in the light of substantial gaps between demand and supply of manpower in agricultural and allied sciences. This is true across the board, though the shortfall is high in the case of rapidly growing horticulture, fishery, and dairy sectors and less serious in others. Dairy, fishery and horticulture are the future engines of growth in the agricultural sector, and are important from the point of view of food security of the nation. The colleges would also require adequate infrastructure and qualified teachers to ensure quality of education. Discipline-wise new colleges needed are given in Table-3.

Table-3 : Additional Colleges needed at Under-graduate Level Discipline | Additional colleges needed | Crop Science | 30 | Horticulture | 50 | Forestry | 5 | Veterinary & Animal Husbandry | 25 | Fisheries | 15 | Dairy | 20 | Agri-Engineering | 5 | Total | 150 |

The situation demands pro-active policies to encourage private sector in agricultural education as well with ensuring quality education.

d) Containing wastage of educational capacity It has been observed that the average outturn from educational institutions is around 50-70 per cent of the sanctioned capacity. This is because some students leave the course after admission or midway to join other programmes or to take-up employment. The high wastage rates cause undue drain on the agricultural education infrastructure. They point to a lack of commitment on the part of the students towards agricultural education and choice of career that makes use of the knowledge acquired. This state of affairs calls for a closer look at the admission policies. While excellence in school and entrance test performance may continue to serve as a basis for admission, there may be greater accent on factors like rural background, aptitude for farm work, etc. At the same time, a reorientation of the course structure, such as introduction of dual and integrated degree programmes may be explored to make the courses attractive. It has been observed that at post-graduate level, the intake is low as compared to other fields of technical and professional education. There is a need to consolidate the postgraduate courses to conserve the resources for optimum utilisation.
e) Teacher availability
A crucial input to agricultural education, as indeed in all fields of education, is the availability of quality teachers. An important aspect of educational planning is to ensure availability of faculty in adequate numbers and quality with institutional arrangements for systematic up-gradation of their knowledge and skills. It has been observed that about 40 per cent of the faculty positions in the agricultural universities have remained vacant for long periods of time raising questions about the quality of education. f) Ensuring better utilization of agricultural manpower The demand estimates presented in NAARM-IAMR study are on the presumption that all jobs requiring agriculture and allied sciences would in fact be filled by agriculture qualified personnel. This is not seen in practice as people from general science streams and even unrelated fields accessing such jobs. Some initiatives may be required to ensure proper matching of skills and job requirements. Such steps would also make agricultural education more relevant and attractive.
g) Impact of increasing demand from private sector

Box 3: Areas of employment of agricultural manpower (graduates and above) 2009-10

Source:

Traditionally, the bulk of the higher agricultural manpower used to find employment in the public sector - either in the national or state level research institutions, educational institutions, departments in the Central or State government dealing with agriculture and allied subjects, other public sector promotional or regulatory agencies and nationalized banks and other financial institutions. With increasing penetration of private industry and services sector into the agricultural market, there is a growing demand for agricultural professionals in the private sector, be it in input producing industries (seed, fertilizers, pesticides, animal feed etc.), processing industries (food processing, pharmaceuticals, etc.), research, education, training and consultancy services. The NAARM-IAMR study shows that the private sector today employs about 44 per cent of the higher agricultural manpower as against 37 per cent in the government, academic and research sectors.
The emerging changes in the pattern of demand for agricultural manpower from different sectors have implications for agricultural educational planning, in view of the varying requirements of the public and private sectors. Employment in the public funded educational and research institutions naturally demands higher qualifications. Even for employment in other sub-sectors of the public sector such as government departments, promotional agencies and financial institutions, there is generally a premium placed on higher educational qualifications like post-graduation and doctoral degrees. In the private sector too there is some demand higher qualifications but only to a limited extent mainly for carrying out product-oriented research. The bulk of private industry’s requirements are for graduates and diploma holders who can stimulate demand for and market agricultural products, and act as interface between the farmers and the industry. This requires, apart from a broad-based general understanding of the subject, soft skills such as communication, management and practical skills in demonstrating the relevance and use of the products sold. This factor needs to be taken into account while planning curricula for agricultural education at various levels.
h) Diploma courses
Planning for agricultural education in the next decade has to look at the structure of the system. Till recently, the emphasis in the system has been more or less exclusively on the generation of graduates, post-graduates and doctorates, and very little effort has been put in generation of intermediary skills at diploma level. Even though there have been some corrective steps on the part of some SAUs lately, a far greater effort is needed to promote diploma level education on the lines of engineering education. This is urgent in view of the expressed preference of the private sector, which is the future hope for increased absorption of agricultural human capital, for diploma level personnel to handle most of the routine jobs, leaving only management and research functions to the higher level manpower. A diploma in agriculture as an add-on to general education would also be helpful. Efforts are required in generation of intermediary skills at diploma level.
i) Need for para-agricultural personnel
One of the critical factors in Indian agriculture dominated by small and marginal farmers is one of inadequate transfer of technology and consequently low productivity. Consultations as a part of the project pointed to the need for creating/strengthening local institutional mechanisms for providing day-to-day counselling and other escort services to the farmers at their doorstep. To handle a variety of day-to-day jobs at grass root level, the ‘bare foot technicians’ need to be developed with multiple skills – not only in regard to farm practices, simple and routine veterinary services, routine testing services, and various other rural occupations but also on aspects like agro-processing, marketing, support services, etc. Such skills need to be developed among the rural youth themselves, preferably targeting school dropouts, as youth from urban areas or with higher education shy away from working in rural areas. The multi-skill development programmes can be dove-tailed with government’s Skill Development Mission or an integrated course can be started through existing institutional systems. The para-staff can be trained in agriculture schools, finishing schools imparting specific skills and vocational training institutions. There is a need for certification and promotion of programmes for para staff. This report recommends mandating every plan programme to identify area-specific needs of trained personnel and include capacity building as a part of such planned activities.
j) Private sector participation in agricultural education
Initiatives for the future demand-driven growth in agricultural education at the diploma and undergraduate levels should be left to the private sector or should be taken in a public-private partnership mode, subject to quality assurance systems being in place. Post-graduate and doctoral education should continue to be the preserve of the public sector institutions.
k) Participation of women in agricultural education

An important development in agricultural education in recent years has been the increasing participation of girls, with their share of enrolment reaching 30 per cent overall and even over 50 per cent in some universities. Girls hostels and other facilities, specially in small towns and rural areas, may be created to encourage increase enrolment of girl students. Some finishing schools can be started either for girls alone or certain per cent mandated for girls. The development of soft skills and other entrepreneurship skill courses can be imparted to girls so that they could be economically active.

l) Data bases for human resource planning in agriculture

Proper database management is vital for educational planning. ICAR has no doubt taken useful steps in this direction by establishing databases like NISAGENET and PERMISNET, but there are serious operational issues. NISAGENET is not up-dated regularly by the SAUs, while PERMISNET has no provision for maintaining data on a historical basis. Nor does it allow access to outside researchers. ICAR could consider throwing open limited aspects of the system that are read-only and those that do not reveal individual’s details to general researchers. SAUs may be encouraged to place their academic data and yearly placement details on their websites. ICAR may institute a special scheme to create and maintain agricultural human resource database of the country.

m) Future research

Research is key to future agricultural growth and nation’s food security system. It becomes more important today than ever in the context of emerging problems like limits on soil availability, degradation of available soil, declining responses to inputs, climate change and phenomenon like globalization. ICAR institutions and other public sector institutions in the central and state governments will continue to engage themselves in high level quality research. Here again, vacancies to the tune of 30 per cent in the positions of scientists does not auger well. The high quality research again calls for appropriate infrastructure as well as quality researchers. Researches need to be percolated at ground level. ICAR may support research on educational technology, planning and human resources development. Some of the indicative areas for research are employment pattern among the alumni, migration, area-specific skill needs, effective teaching strategies, sector-specific and state specific in depth studies for human capital assessment, etc.

Skill Needs and Instititional Mechanism

Survey indicates towards the need for skill up-gradation in the light of technological innovations as well as skill development in the emerging areas. An indicative list for skills to be developed is:

Horticulture sector * Nursery management * Green house technology * Disease and pest control * Packing technology * Biotech and tissue culture * Drip irrigation * Grading of produce * Testing of produce * Repair of machine * High technology horticulture * Organic farming * Soil testing * Diversification of cropping pattern * Pre-Post harvest management * Fruit processing * Marketing skill of horticulture produce * Raising of tray nursery * High density planting * Fruit and vegetable preservation techniques * Floriculture and sericulture * Medicinal and aromatic plants, and their processing and packaging * Grafting

Crop sector * Disease and pest control * Soil health testing * Quality control * Organic farming * Knowledge on high yielding varieties * Green house technology * Irrigation, fertilizer technology * Maintenance of machine /tools * Soil and water conservation * Grading/Testing of produce * Fodder development * Commercial farming * Value addition of Agri-produce * Wasteland development * Dry land agriculture * Agricultural marketing * Agri-Clinics * Food Processing * Seed identification, grading and management

Forestry sector * Management of forest produce * Remote sensing * Identification of forest tree and species * Conservation of plant * Afforestation of waste land * Processing of minor forest produce * Eco tourism sites and maintenance * Training of village level carpenters * Maintenance of seed orchards * Collection of seeds * Processing of seeds * Agro-tourism * Training of forest tree breeders * Saw mill maintenance * Land scape gardening

Veterinary and animal husbandry sector * Live stock production and management * Artificial insemination * Animal health and nutrition * Embryo development * Goat rearing * Poultry production and management * Preparation, preservation of milk products * Marketing skills * Hygiene and safety * Fodder Development * Animal breeding

Agricultural engineering sector * Development of appropriate tools and equipments suiting to Indian scenario, small and marginal farmers etc. * Use of renewable energy resources * Maintenance of machinery and equipments * Guidance to farmers- knowledge building * Knowledge and adaptation of machines and tools used elsewhere * Integrated energy management * Reduction of agriculture inputs, drudgery and improve quality of products

Fishery sector * Development of fish feed * Knowledge of ornamental fish and their development * Fish development and handling * Eco system approach and modelling * Fish processing and packaging * Hygiene and safety * Fish pathology * Latest technologies

Skill needs across sectors * Financial Management * E-marketing * Soft skills such as communication, team dynamics, * leadership, self- confidence etc. * Information Technology * Remote Sensing & precision farming * Entrepreneurial and managerial skills * Continuous knowledge enhancement * Training in new technologies

1. Quality of education is directly related to the employability. Consultations with industry and academicians as well as students suggested a large gap between the skills imparted in the institutions and skills required in the employment market. This calls for a relook into the curriculum, teaching strategies and establishing forward and backward linkages. Although the Fourth Deans’ Committee recommended a strong practical orientation to agricultural education, actual implementation is evident only at some places. There is a strong demand from all the stakeholders for skill-specific education with clarity of basics as well as hands-on technical expertise. In other words, there is a need to develop functional skills among the students in educational institutions almost in all the sectors of agriculture. Educational reforms may be linked to effective human capacity development plans.

2. It is widely felt that agricultural education is not considered as a professional course at par with other professional courses, especially at graduate level. Pro-active policies are needed to give agriculture its proper dignity and place. This would also facilitate in attracting youth to join the sector not as a compulsion but as a choice.

3. Another concern is quality of teachers. Agriculture is undergoing rapid transformation with the advent of new technologies, commercialisation and globalisation, and emergence of issues relating to climate and environment. Teachers have to keep pace with such developments and the resulting need to acquire new knowledge. While some organizations are imparting training in the emerging areas, there is no specific training policy for up-gradation of the skills of teachers. A plan of action has to be evolved so as to cover all the teachers under capacity development programme in a specific period of time.

4. It is strongly recommended that extension services in the country should be strengthened on priority with adequate infrastructure facilities, staff and other resources to cater to the needs at micro level. Regular follow-ups of the programmes operated under extension services are also needed. Synergies in various organizations such as extension services, NGOs, SHGs, farmers’ associations, etc., are extremely essential.

Financial Support

5. Adequate institutional funding and infrastructure and effective management are some of the areas that directly made an impact on quality of education. Available budgetary resources are far from satisfactory to develop infrastructure or world class laboratories in the colleges and universities. More than 80 per cent budget is spent in meeting the establishment costs leaving little money for developing resources. Specific budget provision to be made to support SAUs on regular basis for infrastructure development.

6. A number of private colleges are offering or are keen to offer post-graduate education. They find it difficult to sustain due to lack of support for research infrastructure. At present, these colleges are not in a position to access the limited competitive grants available in the country. Graduate research through a special scheme can be initiated as is available in All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE).

Agriculture at School Level

7. Agricultural education at lower level is no one’s baby. Very few courses in agriculture subjects are taught in ITIs, polytechnics and secondary schools. Agriculture education can be developed in a three-tier system as is being done in engineering. Agriculture should also be introduced at school-level as has been done in China and in some other countries so as to motivate students towards agriculture sector as many students are shying away from this sector. Madhya Pradesh has started the subject at school-level and others may follow. Urbanisation of Agricultural Education 8. Enrolment of urban-based students has been on the rise in agriculture resulting into a continuous decline in share of rural students. The imbalance is due to the fact that urban students have better exposure and facilities and, therefore, have better competitive skills to corner the seats. There is great reluctance of majority of trained manpower to work in rural areas as opportunities in rural areas are less attractive. They sometimes shift from this sector to other types of employment. Some alternatives can be considered. One option could be to reserve seats for rural students. Another option can be mechanisation and industrialisation of rural areas to attract qualified youth to work in rural areas. New colleges/ polytechnics can be established in rural areas so that rural youth could join the agricultural courses. India as Knowledge Centre

9. There is a general feeling that the country is not having colleges of international standard except for few ICAR institutes and few departments in agricultural universities. While India is evolving as strong knowledge centre, it is time to establish few central universities with international quality standards providing education from UG to higher levels in all agricultural disciplines. The country can have minimum ten such universities, each providing education in growth areas of agriculture. The universities also need to have multidisciplinary focus to include agriculture with biological and social science disciplines and programmes. It is expected that such universities would provide high quality future human resource to teach and train at other institutions.

10. There is a wide spread concern for quality of agricultural education. Agriculture has to meet the needs of the society at various levels. It has to serve the requirements of the industries as well as of farmers. It also has to keep pace with youth aspirations. It is the sole agent to ensure food security. Appropriate policy and regulatory interventions be put in place to revamp educational system. A central regulatory authority, with adequate staff and funding, would help in improving educational standards.

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