Agricultural institutes are the basic and main source of dissemination agricultural knowledge and wisdom among learners and farmers of the country. Currently four agricultural universities excluding their sub campuses are working in Pakistan. A single university of agriculture Faisalabad produces almost 450 agri-graduates every year. A handsome number of students do masters in agriculture, which is MSc (Hons) Agriculture and comprises 18 years of education. Almost half of the batch prefers to do master in agriculture
Agricultural institutes are the basic and main source of dissemination agricultural knowledge and wisdom among learners and farmers of the country. Currently four agricultural universities excluding their sub campuses are working in Pakistan. A single university of agriculture Faisalabad produces almost 450 agri-graduates every year. A handsome number of students do masters in agriculture, which is MSc (Hons) Agriculture and comprises 18 years of education. Almost half of the batch prefers to do master in agriculture. PhD scholar’s ratio is also higher than other fields of sciences. Now at the moment almost 50 students are enrolled for PhD in single department soil science. (Institute of soil and environmental sciences).
University comprises more than dozen department in agriculture, so total no of scholar cannot be less than 100 (as some dept have only few). In all cases agricultural education means to promote agriculture on scientific lines. But unfortunately agricultural institutes are not providing enough education to establish agricultural business or to have a command on practical agriculture. I mean that there should be strong bond between agricultural education and practical field and in it our agricultural sector lacks.
One reason is might be the diversity in the field of agricultural education. Agriculture is a vast subject contains more than dozen fields as agronomy, soil science, entomology, horticulture, forestry, plant pathology and agri-extension etc. In first two years of their graduation they study basics of all these vast subjects. But students do not get optimum idea about practical field of study. The lack of specialization in their particular field of study creates a lack of optimization in their field and students feel themselves handicapped to do a sales and marketing job in agriculture sector. One cannot find handsome number of agriculture professional practicing agriculture as a profession.
At the moment large number of agriculture-graduates are working in generic and multinational pesticides companies as technical sales officers, but actually they have nothing to do with agriculture except to fulfill the sales target. Even in the months of frustrations they are forced to sale un-demanded and un-required pesticide just to attain their sales target. In previous years, due to less attack of insects and pests on cotton resulted in failure of many generic companies as well as disturbed the set-up of many multinationals. Hence professionals just serve as sales representatives after having such a precious degree.
Other big share for agri-jobs is contributed by banks as agri-credit officers, they also haven’t enough time after bank hour to do relevant job. Few selected goes in Govt sector as agricultural officers and research officers, wherever they go, but they don’t want to in practical field of agriculture, what meant for a doctor who opens a medical store after having a professional degree. What are the causes behind the curtain that professionals don’t want to continue their own profession. They don’t want to plough their own fields, even if they have their own farm or agricultural lands. Either agriculture is not a profitable business or professional haven’t skill to continue their profession.
They are unaware of tacts and techniques to reap a profit out of their profession. Recently internship programme was announced at different private and Govt farms and institutes to give practical exposure to students. But this internship comprises only a semester and students can only observe limited crops at particular seasons or cropping time.
Though it is good way but it is not much effective to cover whole year farming operation at a farm or field. The laborious learning of technical terminology and irrelevant research search further shatter their interest to learn more in their field. A long list of course work just keep them busy but in actual terms, they have nothing to express practically. There is desperate need to change our priorities in agriculture educational sector. Students should be managed to observe all season activities in agricultural field. Not only in final semester but also beside pervious semesters special time period should be managed to create awareness among students to learn more and more practical knowledge.
Reshaping basic introductory courses is also need of the hour; from decades students are still studying backward techniques and method of practicing agriculture. Practical classes should not be the name of making homework and written assignments. The practical work at university that I remember is filling bags for plantation in forestry, weed identification in agronomy, pruning in horticulture and nothing in many practical subjects, I remember few boar and exhaustive numerical in plants breeding, soil science, frustrating technical names in plant protection in the name of practical classes. Subjects should be oriented on practical lines rather than pure theory. Another most important subject is field-oriented research.
At the moment more than 150 students are doing their PhD at a single agricultural institute University of Agriculture Faisalabad, but where is work done in field. Traditional research on different dozes of NPK, fulfill just paper requirement, theoretical research, fake research, or any other hypothetical research issue which are not our problems are being practiced are not even the worth of the candle. Scholars prefer to do work on theoretical rather than practical issues. Because theoretical issues are more easy to defend, and they can be completed in particular span of time. But practical issues need exhaustive research and there is no specific time period for project completion so scholars prefer to do work on theoretic issues. If someone has completed his project by using different level of NPK, other just changes its concentration and name of the crop. Such type of research can enhance more PhD but cannot produce optimum quality in practical field. PhD should not matter of degree but should add a new technique in the field and that must have practical use too.
As I perceive agricultural institutes can play a great role in progress and prosperity of country and nation. Backed with practical knowledge add up with theory they can disseminate agricultural knowledge in every corner of the country. At every crop season team of agri-graduate and students should be sent to particular crop area, where they can observe the practices done by farmers and compare it with scientific knowledge. In this way they can add their own knowledge as well as farmers of the country. Such practical knowledge may help them to establish their own agricultural farming business in near future. I am of the view, if the professional knowledge has enough knowledge to practice practical agriculture, they would prefer it to do rather to do a sales job at only 10,000 rupees to an investor.
If Govt would support agricultural graduate to provide them barren land or other un-used lands along roads and railway tracks to make them fertile and practice their knowledge and wisdom for the sake of progress of the country, definitely a new change can be felt after coming professional in their own field. Surely blend of scientific knowledge and practical knowledge will start a new era of development in agriculture. Planning should be done to make a strong bond between agricultural institute and field of the farmer.
The whole cycle revolves around the effort of agricultural professionals and these cannot pay their role properly until they may have knowledge themselves. So establishment of such institutes on priority basis is need of the hour, to compete open market in agriculture and to meet WTO implementation. Whatever the case may be these institutes can pay a great role in economy and prosperity of our nation. If the agricultural institutes under take their responsibility and determined to disseminate agricultural knowledge in every nook and corner of the country, definitely the country will make a jumping progress in field of agriculture in agro-based industry.
It is no use to mention that we are agricultural country and our progress and prosperity depends upon advancement in agricultural sector. So we have to enhance our agricultural export, concentrate on modern techniques, adopting farm mechanization and producing more and more agriculture professionals those can practice agriculture themselves.
By Muhammad Ramzan Rafique