Agri Business

Agri management graduates never had it this good

Vishwanath Kulkarni Ahmedabad/Bengaluru | Updated on April 23, 2019

There has been a steady rise in salaries as the need for rural managers is being felt more than ever

In the evolving agri-business and food sector, despite the prevailing farm distress, the demand for managerial skills continues to be on the rise. This is evident from the rising number of students taking up agri-business and rural management as a career option at top business schools. Aiding the trend is a consistent increase in pay packages offered by reputed recruiters for management graduates with an exposure to the rural economy.

 

After nearly four decades of academic engagement in rural management, the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) is maintaining its dominance in the agri-business and rural management space as there is a a revived interest from multinational recruiters with fat packages. At placements concluded in February, IRMA had leading FMCG and retail sector players such as Pidilite, Future Group, Grofers, Big Basket, Metro Cash & Carry, among others, making a buzz in the new-age online retailing format.

IRMA, which currently offers a host of programmes in rural and agri-business management, is planning to increase its intake of students to 480 from the current 360 in order to cater to the growing demand for this specialised field.

Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), the marketer of Amul brand products, recruits regularly from IRMA. Amul managing director RS Sodhi, who himself is an IRMA alumnus, believes the need for professional rural managers is more recognised now than any time in the past.

“Looking at the distress in villages and in the farm sector, we need to see how we can reduce the income disparity between rural and urban India. So, the role of rural managers having specialised skills in managing rural resources is being immensely felt now,” Sodhi told BusinessLine. “It is the rural manager who can ensure the welfare of people from rural India and manage their businesses or services in a more professional way so that their incomes can be increased,” he added.

Academic experts believe that the demand for rural managers and agri-business professionals is going to rise in the coming days.

Rising intake

The Indian Institute of Management — Ahmedabad (IIM-A) has seen its intake of students for a dedicated course on Food and Agri-Business Management (FABM) rising steadily over the past few years.

According to the the placement report for 2018, the Post Graduate Programme (PGP) in FABM saw a batch size of 47, up from 38 in 2015. The placement report as per the Indian Placement Reporting Standards (IPRS) revealed that the median total guaranteed payment per annum increased from ₹11.40 lakh in 2015 to ₹14.60 lakh in 2018, up about 28 per cent. The recruiters included multinational and domestic companies such as Yes Bank, and Syngenta (agri-technology player). The pay packages, which had remained suppressed in the agri-business and rural management space a few years ago, have reported a respectable jump .

IRMA reported its median salary for its graduating batch of 2019 at ₹11.47 lakhs per annum, up sharply from ₹8.40 per annum reported in 2015, a jump of over 36 per cent.

“This year’s placements experienced a substantial increase in the number of overall job offers compared to the previous year’s. As an indication of the increased engagement of business as well as development sector organisations with the rural space, IRMA received 407 job offers from 119 recruiters for the batch,”said Pratik Modi, chairman of placements at IRMA.

Similarly, at the Indian Institute of Plantation Management Bengaluru (IIPMB), an autonomous institute under the Ministry of Commerce set up in 1993, the annual student intake has more than doubled to 90.

Plethora of opportunities

“Several agri start-ups are exploring huge opportunities for agri-business graduates. The increasing level of farmers’ awareness and professionalism in farming, among other things, have compelled agri-input companies, like seed, fertiliser, pesticides, credit and insurance firms, to engage trained professionals to serve the market creatively and remain competitive,” said Prof VG Dhanakumar, Director, IIPMB.

Also, there are immense opportunities in banks, logistics and consultancy firms for agri-business professionals. Further, there are tremendous opportunities for trained professionals in the food processing sector. IIPM has introduced a new programme titled Post Graduate Diploma in Management: Food Processing & Business Management (FPBM) and Agricultural Export & Business Management, Dhanakumar said.

IIPM has the record of placing all graduating students passing out every batch and they are in various positions across the value chain both in India and overseas. IIPM graduates on an average get a package of 5.00 lakhs p.a., with highest salary of ₹12.08 lakhs p.a. Sectors such as agri-inputs, retail, food processing usually offer a relatively higher pay package (₹5.50-₹7.00 lakh per annum).

Dhanakumar said IIPM’s Study Abroad Program (SAP) facilitates students to work in the agri-business sector across the world. The global firms such as Altech, Ecom Gill, Olam International, Oil Palm Plantations, WTC-Dublin among others are recruiting our graduates in African and Asian countries, he added.

Amul’s Sodhi, meanwhile, said that rural organisations should be provided with funding from governments or through CSR route to pick the top brains in the rural management. “These professional rural managers should not be compromised on compensation. Some part of compensation can be sourced through government or other CSR funding support to make small producer organisations to get access to rural professionals,” he added.

Published on April 23, 2019

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