Sunday, December 12, 2010

Education to become a farmer

"India's economic growth is 8% this fiscal", " The IT industry is really the growth engine of our economy", "Manufacturing sector contributes to the bulk of employment and it will remain our priority", " We want to be the factory of the world". These are some of the common headlines apart from scams and bomb blasts (though I don't find the difference between the two seriously) one sees these days. When I go to a village and ask a farmer what is your son going to do, " My son will become an engineer. When he finishes +2, I will sell this land for his studies" is the reply. From his point of view it is the best way of life. According to them the logical conclusion of education is becoming an engineer or doctor and to earn more money.

But in the process everybody forgets the basic necessity of mankind. Food. I am proud to say that India is an agrarian economy. But India is slowly losing this tag. I see land conversion on around country side. Recently there was a protest in Ooty calling for setting up an IT Park in Nilgiris district. Won't you guys leave even that place. What are we going to do if all land is used up for manufacturing and service sector and nothing for agriculture? So here is a thought that I feel will take care of food security as well as ensure literacy and improve standard of living in the country side of India.

An agricultural university with practical curriculum and ample future. Today's agricultural universities mostly do research in genetic modification, biotech etc but never focus on practical issues faced by farmers. A two year degree course in agriculture for future farmers. Here is the curriculum. A course in fruit sciences and vegetable sciences. Another course in crop sciences. Then a course on soil sciences and geology. These are the basic courses that is needed by all. Apart from these a course on environmental sciences is important in today's context.

Other subjects that are important include irrigation methods. People don't understand and practice modern irrigation methods which is very important. A course on modern farming practices and machineries is also very important. A course on fertilizers would do a world of good to them. There maybe electives in horticulture farming, spice and plantation crops which can be chosen by the students according to the farmland they own. Last and most important, a course on marketing which is a necessity to any farmer. The last semester can be given as a project work that can be used to design new machines and mechanisms or farming methodologies from their learned concepts and past experiences. A stipend amount can be given to the student during the course completion phase.Though there are courses in some of these subjects, it is not for farmers. It is only for researchers, microbiologists and biotech engineers.

Instead of 'Vayalum Vaazhvum' and 'Kisaan ghar' programmes, if these programmes are introduced, It would reach the farmers better and as well as there is a higher probability of people retaining their agricultural lands for farming and lead to rural growth. Why do people come to city? In search of better opportunities and standard of living. If this could be brought to villages then the urban-rural divide will reduce as well as ensure food security and inclusive growth.