The UAS has made some changes in the Rural Agricultural Work Experience programme. Some students are happy about it, others are not

The University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) has modified the syllabus with the Rural Agricultural Work Experience (RAWE) programme that was offered in the eighth semester being now offered in the seventh semester. The modification is being implemented from 2012-13 and will ensure that students undergo the programme during the kharif season.

The duration of the programme has been extended to three months from one month and the stipend has been raised to Rs. 1,500 a month. The programme is now compulsory not only for B.Sc. Agriculture students but for B.Sc. (Agricultural Marketing and Cooperation) and B.Tech (Agricultural Engineering) students as well. The students will be housed at the Raitha Samparka Kendras in every hobli.

While those who have already undergone the programme feel the new system will benefit both the students and farmers, many first to seventh semester students seem to disagree.

Prabhudeva D.S., B.Sc. Agri, eighth semester

My batch, which is passing out now, is the one that proposed to the university that the RAWE programme should coincide with the kharif season. It was taken up quickly and the change was brought in. This will definitely help students as they will get to learn more during the cropping season.

Three months, however, is too long. Some students may find it difficult to stay in rural areas and adapt to the conditions. Fourth-year students have to prepare for the Junior Research Fellowship exam and will need the library and other facilities available in college. This will be hard to manage now. The length of the programme does not matter as much as the farmers’ responses do. If we manage to get a good response, it will benefit us and the farmers. But I found four weeks sufficient when I did the programme.

Varsha Rani, Ph.D. student, Dept. of Microbiology

RAWE offers a good opportunity for mutual benefit for both farmers and students. Previously, the programme was only for a month. Applying what we have learnt in our theory classes is possible only when we work closely with farmers at the grassroots and understand what programmes would work in agricultural fields. Many programmes that are referred to as ‘lab to land programmes’ like utilisation of agriculturally important insects and control of pests are involved in RAWE, where we practically apply what we have studied. The process takes a lot of effort and time. Now that the length has been extended, it will certainly be more beneficial.

Lekhashree S.M., M.Sc., first year

When I underwent the RAWE programme, it was only a month-and-a-half long. I felt it was too short a period as the farmers aren’t always forthcoming in the beginning and will not immediately adopt what we suggest.

The first few days are spent in developing a rapport with them. Only later do they provide us with basic information that we need, and share with us the difficulties they face while growing crops. It takes time to understand the problems and to help the farmers with our knowledge. Now that the programme has been extended to three months, it will prove useful for the students as they will have more fieldwork experience.

Nithin Shekhar N.C., B.Sc. Agri, seventh semester

The RAWE programme is where we practically implement what we study in three years. It is our best opportunity to help and take help from farmers. But it isn’t always in our hands.

What we learn depends on how forthcoming the farmers are in the hobli that we are placed in.

Although three months might help in buying us time to get along with the farmers, it is too long a period. Students are given accommodation in Raitha Samparka Kendras that are present in every hobli. There is no saying how difficult adjusting to the conditions will be. It will even take a toll on our health.

Anand Kumar T.M., B.Tech (Ag.Engg), eighth semester

It was a good decision to shift the RAWE programme to the seventh semester as it will coincide with the monsoon. The students will have a great deal to learn in this period from the farmers and from first-hand experience. Earlier, the programme would commence during summer and students would miss the cropping season. They would have little or no experience.

Although RAWE may not benefit B.Tech (Ag.Engg) students, rural work experience will be helpful for B.Sc (Ag.MaCo) students. When they learn from farmers what the difficulties involved in marketing are, they will be in a better position to help them.

Shwetha G., B.Tech (Ag.Engg), seventh semester

I’m a bit confused about what to expect in the programme. B.Sc. students will have a basic knowledge of agricultural science. But from the engineering point of view, we can only inform and guide farmers about agricultural implements.

When we took up the course and were introduced to the syllabus, RAWE was not a part of it. The sudden decision to include it for B.Tech (Ag.Engg) and B.Sc (MaCo) students caught us off guard.

The B.Tech students appealed to the Dean to take back the order but as the order was passed by the Central Government, we had to accept it. The lecturers have been telling us that the programme will benefit us as well as farmers. It will also increase job opportunities. So I can say it is a good decision.

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