A restructured UG (under-graduate) çurriculum in tune with the National Education Policy is ready for agricultural universities, focusing on skill development frame work, Deputy Director-General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) R. C. Agarwal said.
Speaking at the meeting of Vice Chancellors of agricultural universities being held here on Saturday, he said that a mandatory foundation course of three weeks in yoga and meditation was included in the new syllabus in addition to the provision of multiple entry and exit in degree programmes. Focus of the degree courses would be skill development for students.
He said that a degree in B.Sc (Hons) in Natural Farming was being planned to be introduced in agricultural universities with focus on research in natural farming and production. It was being planned to provide fellowships and entrepreneur development to encourage students to pursue natural farming.
The three Central agricultural universities were instructed to start colleges of natural farming and to train more manpower and farmers in natural farming and KVKs (Krishi Vignan Kendras) were entrusted with the job of training. All major crops would be tested in natural farming methods at multiple locations. He stated that NITI Aayog had also prepared an action plan on natural farming.
The ICAR-DDG asked the Vice Chancellors to aim at 30% internal revenue generation, to begin with, and reach financial self-sustenance in the near future. Several revenue generation models such as hydroponics, aeroponics, breeder seed production, sale of parental lines or varieties, development and selling of agri machinery, sale of medical and aromatic plants, sale of poultry birds, animal breeds, biopesticides, bio-fungicides, making vermi-compost, ethanol production, replacement of soya meal with millets, diary, mushrooms, dehydrated products and traditional rice varieties were discussed in detail.
Agricultural universities were open now to take up consultancies, the ICAR-DDG said, adding that they could offer certificate and diploma courses, agri-tourism, branding of products, and felicitation centres to export produce, acting as innovation centres, certification and accreditation bodies for agri-products.
Issues being faced by the universities were also discussed at the meeting. A memorandum of understanding was signed between Heartfulness Education Trust, Hyderabad, and ICAR for the benefit of students and research.