Students doing study at farm
Many varsities now offer diploma courses to retain rural youth in farming and livestock rearing
Those interested in continuing the family tradition of farming or animal rearing need not wait for four years to be trained in these fields. A two-year course can equip you with the basic information about them.
Agriculture and veterinary universities in Karnataka are offering undergraduate diploma and short-term courses to provide trained hands to the farming sector or to provide para-technical staff to corporate farms and the food processing industry. These are fast gaining popularity.
Increased demand for the undergraduate course in veterinary science introduced last year forced the Karnataka Veterinary Animal and Fisheries University to start two more polytechnic colleges this year. Similar is the case with the Universities of Agriculture Sciences in Bangalore, Dharwad and Raichur. They are expanding the number of polytechnic colleges and streams in which the course is offered.
The two-year, four-semester courses have an interesting content of 40 per cent theory and 60 per cent practical experience. Students are given a stipend of Rs. 1,000 per month throughout the course. The agriculture diploma curriculum includes lessons in agriculture, horticulture and even a bit of veterinary science.
The two-year diploma course in veterinary and animal husbandry started last year is exclusive for students from rural areas who have passed the SSLC examinations. After a year of theory classes, they undergo practical training for another year in a hospital and livestock farms by rotation. After a positive response to the course in Konehalli in Tumkur district, colleges have been started in Ganjigatti in Haveri district and Dornalli in Yadgir district. The course is residential.
Students are exposed to farms that breed livestock, sheep and goats, chicken and fish. They are also placed in veterinary hospitals by rotation. The first batch of 50 will complete the course in August next year.
“The main idea behind starting diploma courses is to retain rural youth in farming and livestock rearing,” says the former Vice-Chancellor of the KVAFSU, Suresh Honnappagol. Nowadays, there is a huge market for veterinary graduates and fewer veterinarians are attracted towards government service or teaching. The worst sufferers are industries that need middle-level managers. Graduate veterinarians are either not available or might demand higher salaries. This is where the diploma course makes a difference, he said.
He expressed confidence that there was a sustainable market for veterinarians with a diploma in corporate livestock farms, dairy, poultry and fish farms or food-based industries.
“Creating a cadre of para-technical staff in agriculture and allied subjects is very important,” said former Vice-Chancellor R.N. Srinivas Gowda. “The recent trend is that most graduates don’t go back to farming. They either join government departments or food processing companies. It is very difficult to get qualified personnel for jobs that demand low level of technical skills or to traditional farming. We hope diploma graduates will fill an important void in the system,” he said.
“Diploma students have not less than 50 per cent of the course content that is prescribed for graduate students. The two-semester practical training gives the much needed experience,” says Ravi Deshmukh, training coordinator at the Bidar Krishi Vigyan Kendra where the agriculture diploma students will be trained. Starting diploma and short-term courses is among the ideas promoted by the Central Government through its Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana. Diploma courses in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra have created an army of agriculture technicians, he said.
“The University of Agriculture Sciences, Raichur, will conduct its courses in Raichur, Bidar, Bheemrayana Gudi in Yadgir and Hagari in Bellary. We have an intake of 35 in each college. We plan to provide 10 per cent reservation to diploma students in B.Sc agriculture courses from next year,” Suresh Patil, professor of UAS-Raichur, said.
Those who complete their diploma will be absorbed in private food processing industries, fertilizer and seed companies, sugar factories and agriculture and horticulture nurseries. They can also start counselling, he said. He hopes that in a few years, diploma agriculture students may be recruited by government departments.
UAS-Dharwad has polytechnic colleges in Dharwad, Bijapur, Sirsi (Uttara Kannada) Jamkhandi (Bagalkot), Akki Alur (Haveri ) and Hukkeri (Belgaum). UAS-Bangalore offers diploma courses in its colleges in Bangalore, Mandya and Hassan. Boys and girls are admitted to both agriculture and veterinary courses.
Course fees are affordable and are in the range of Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 5,000 for two years for students of various categories.
UAS-Raichur, UAS-Dharwad and UAS-Bangalore offer certificate courses. Courses in agronomy and agriculture marketing can be completed in six months. UAS-Bangalore offers a one-year diploma in Agriculture Extension Services for input dealers (DAESI). The candidates have an option of attending classes only on weekends. UAS-Bangalore offers a diploma in organic farming and a diploma in Bakery Products Technology for rural women.
The undergraduate diploma course in animal welfare offered by the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bangalore, is popular among researchers and animal lovers. The Karnataka State Open University offers a one-year diploma in veterinary pharmacy. Courtesy: RISHIKESH BAHADUR DESAI The Hindu