Farm science courses are in great demand, and jobs are in plenty

When the Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA) announced the results of the seat allotment under the Common Entrance Test (CET) this year, the newest entrant to the admission process — B.Sc farm sciences — faced no drought. Along with the all-time favourite — medical — farm sciences had no seats left. This was in stark comparison to the engineering courses, which had 3,464 vacant seats.

It is this glaring trend that experts point out to as one of the reasons behind the increasing demand for B.Sc agriculture, veterinary and horticulture courses. “The number of engineering seats has increased by leaps and bounds. On the other hand, the number of campus placements has decreased. In contrast, farm science courses have limited seats. Taking into account the total available seats in the University of Agriculture Sciences (UAS), Bangalore, Dharwad, Raichur, and Shimoga, University of Horticultural Sciences, Bagalkot, and the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University, Bidar, the total intake will not be more than 5,000,” explained L. Ramakrishna Rao, professor and senior information specialist, UAS Bangalore.

Safe bet

Job opportunity-wise too, farm sciences courses appear attractive. Veterinary courses in particular are a safe bet as there is a shortage of jobs in the field. In addition to employment, the courses offer ample opportunity for pursuing higher studies, Prof. Rao said. Among those who come for campus recruitments are multinationals and banks looking for agricultural or rural development officers.

“Almost 60 per cent of the graduates opt for M.Sc. There are some 26 to 28 disciplines to choose from. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research also conducts a Junior Research Fellowship exam after clearing which, the fellows are paid Rs. 18,000 per month. Further, after postgraduation, many opt for Ph.D.,” Prof. Rao added.

The move to come under the ambit of the KEA too appears to have paid off with all these courses getting over one lakh applications. While those from agriculture backgrounds dominate the student population, many others too are keen to pursue farm sciences. One of the reasons appears to be the diverse subjects taught during the four-year course: sociology, psychology, management, engineering, soil management, etc. This is also a reason why many farm science graduates are successfully attempting the civil services exams.

Prof. Rao also mentioned how the courses are highly subsidised. “While we spend Rs. 5 lakh per graduate during the four-year course, the fee they pay is only Rs. 12,000. Many even get scholarships above this.”

Good marks

Since its inception in the 1960s under the University of Mysore and having been bifurcated into many branches, farm science has seen a downward trend only once – during the IT boom, which ended around 2005.

“Since around five years, the demand has picked up again. There is no question of vacant seats. During the IT boom, we went as far as to conduct walk-in interviews and selected students with 40 per cent marks also. Now, all the students score no less than 80 per cent.”

Now, veterinary courses, followed by agriculture and horticulture, are reaping rich benefits with a full class strength of bright students.