Agri Business

Agri-scientists hard to come by

K. V. Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on January 05, 2011 Published on January 05, 2011

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MANPOWER CRUNCH





The agriculture sector in the country is facing an acute shortage of graduates and scientists in the field, impacting both research and development and business prospects of public and private organisations.

In the absence of adequate manpower, companies are making huge offers to those who retired from Government service. Companies, which are coming with placement offers at university campuses, are offering entry-level salaries in the range of Rs 2.40 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.

According to the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), the per capita agricultural scientist was the lowest in India with just 157 scientists for every 10 lakh population as against 545 in China and 4,099 in the US. ICAR itself is facing shortage of quality scientists.

Dr C.D. Mayee, Chairman of Agriculture Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB), which recruits scientists for all Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), says both quality and quantity are concerns.

Citing an example, he said only 4,000 candidates could pass the first level test out of 22,000 candidates who appeared for the exam to select 290 candidates.

The shortage is so severe that private companies have begun to train botany graduates. A foundation run by the promoters of Vibha Seeds has started a plant breeders course for botany graduates. “We are going to set up a plant breeders academy,” Mr P. Vidyasagar, Managing Director of Vibha Seeds, said.

Mr M. Prabhakara Rao, Managing Director of Nuziveedu Seeds, felt that increase in seats by hundreds would not help.

“Even if we produce 2,000 graduates from each university, the agricultural sector still would need people. Agri-business industry cannot continue with this problem longer,” he said.

The Association of Biotech-Led Enterprises (ABLE) said the sector is facing manpower shortage in technical, technological and scientific segments.

Faculty needed

“Most colleges and universities offering education in biotechnology really do not have useful faculty to teach. The quality of PhD is also dismal,” Dr Shanthu Shantharam, Executive Director of ABLE-AG, said.

kurmanath@thehindu.co.in

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Published on January 05, 2011
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