What connection does mathematics have with agriculture?

This question has become a moot point of discussion among hundreds of candidates who have lost the chance of gaining admission to undergraduate programmes in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, home science and sericulture for not having scored high marks in maths in their Class XII examinations this year.

According to sources, the strange situation had arisen because Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) adopts a common format for calculating cut-off for admission to its ‘agricultural science programmes’ which lead to Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degrees and ‘agricultural technology programmes’ that lead to Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) degrees.

They pointed out that Anna University excludes biology and considers marks scored in mathematics, physics and chemistry alone for calculating the cut-off required for admission.

Likewise, the Directorate of Medical Education excludes mathematics and considers marks scored in — biology, physics and chemistry — alone for admission to medical colleges.

However, TNAU considers marks scored in all four core subjects (except English and second language) in Class XII for arriving at a cut-off required for admission to its agricultural courses.

As a result, students who have scored high marks in physics, chemistry and biology but low marks in the fourth subject, which could probably be maths or computer science, end up really low in the rank list compared to those who had scored better marks in the fourth subject too.

A Madurai candidate, who had been declared to have scored a cut-off of 190.25 and ranked in a position beyond 1500 out of more than 17,000 candidates in the fray, said that his cut-off would have risen to 196 and he would secured somewhere around 60 rank if TNAU had excluded maths from the subjects taken into consideration for admission to B.Sc. (agriculture) course.

Talking to The Hindu over phone, P. Kalaiselvan, Registrar (in-charge), TNAU, said, “The system of taking mathematics into consideration even for B.Sc. courses has been in vogue for the last four years in accordance with government orders. We will set right the problem possibly by the next academic year.”

As per TNAU norms, candidates applying for B.Tech. degree courses in agricultural engineering, food process engineering and energy and environmental engineering must have studied either in Group I comprising mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology or Group II consisting of mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer science in their Class XII.

However, mathematics was not prescribed as a mandatory subject for admission to other 10 courses leading to B.Sc. degrees in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, home science, sericulture, agribusiness management and B.Tech. degrees in biotechnology, horticulture, bioinformatics, agricultural information technology.

In so far as admission to these 10 degree courses was concerned, the candidates must have compulsorily studied physics, chemistry and biology in Class XII. The fourth core subject could be mathematics, computer science, biochemistry, biotechnology, home science or microbiology. But, the marks scored in the fourth subject would also be considered for arriving at a cut-off.