Their farm land was their lab

Toppers made use of the lessons learnt in class to improve practices at home

February 09, 2018 08:11 pm | Updated 08:11 pm IST

 Some gold medallists pose for a group photo at the convocation of the University of Agriculture Sciences, at GKVK on Friday.

Some gold medallists pose for a group photo at the convocation of the University of Agriculture Sciences, at GKVK on Friday.

For the 55 gold medallists who graduated from the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bengaluru, learning went beyond the classroom. Their own fields were their labs, as they put into practice what they read in their textbooks.

Some budding agriculturalists not only tweaked farming practices on their own fields, but also helped transform their village.

“In Kolar, farmers tend to grow a lot of tomato. Between 2012 and 2014, we suffered losses and could not even meet the cost of cultivation,” said Udaykumar K.S. who hails from Mallasandra in Kolar district and earned an M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics.

He convinced his parents to incorporate an integrated farming system. “Now we grow potatoes, tomatoes and cauliflower based on the season, and we are able to make a profit,” he said.

This prompted several other farmers in his village to follow in their footsteps. Udaykumar earned seven medals and plans to specialise in agricultural economics with the aim of encouraging entrepreneurship among farmers.

Chaitra G.J. of Gopikunte in Sira taluk of Tumakuru district, who completed a doctoral in agriculture extension, persuaded her father to shift from mono cropping to integrated farming in 2016. “Two of my siblings are engineers. My father is proud that I have chosen this subject. As I come from a family of farmers, I got hands-on experience and observed the different practices adopted in our land,” she said.

It was not easy for all students to convince their families, which are steeped in age-old traditional farming practices, to experiment with new methods.

Yashika M.P. from Bellumadu, near Virajpet in Kodagu district, earned an M.Sc. in Sericulture and bagged three gold medals. Over the past year, she has been trying to promote organic farming back home. “It took a lot of convincing, as organic farming is a slow process. It will take another two years to see the results, but I am optimistic,” she said.

H.B. Manoj Kumar of Haniyambadi in Mandya district, who got a doctorate in plant biotechnology, was devastated after the paddy crop in his own fields were infected with a disease. He took the tragedy as a challenge. “I learnt more about the disease and the precautionary measures that can be taken to protect crops from getting affected. I have tried to make others in my village aware of the same,” said Manoj who received three gold medals.

Manju Sharma, former secretary, Department of Bio-Technology, government of India, who was the chief guest at the event, stressed on the need for agriculture biotechnology to increase food production. Governor and Chancellor Vajubhai Vala presided over the convocation.

Women bag more gold medals

A majority of the gold medals awarded at the 52nd annual convocation of the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru were bagged by women. As many as 83 of the total 118 gold medals were bagged by 37 girls. The remaining 35 gold medals were bagged by 19 men.

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