Agricultural research can be broadly defined as any research activity aimed at improving productivity and quality of crops by their genetic improvement, better plant protection, irrigation, storage methods, farm mechanization, efficient marketing, and better management of resources.
India has, since independence, put into constant efforts in improving agricultural research and development.
One of the most highlighted achievements of this effort is the establishment of ICAR- Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
The practical achievements of the council are attracting promising youth to venture into studying agriculture and making a career in agricultural research.
The base of Agricultural research infrastructure in India, ICAR-
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous organization under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India.
The Council is the apex body for coordinating, guiding, and managing research and education in agriculture including horticulture, fisheries, and animal sciences in the entire country. With 101 ICAR institutes and 71 agricultural universities spread across the country, this is one of the largest national agricultural systems in the world.
Through its research and technology development it has enabled the country to increase the production of food grains by 5.6 times, horticultural crops by 10.5 times, fish by 16.8 times, milk by 10.4 times, and eggs by 52.9 times since 1950-51 to 2017-18, thus making a visible impact on the national food and nutritional security.
A brief about Agricultural education division, ICAR-
The Agricultural Education Division, ICAR is involved in strengthening and streamlining the higher agricultural education system to enhance the quality of human resources in the agri-supply chain to meet future challenges in the agriculture sector in the country.
Career in Agricultural research in India-
Agriculture has been a progressive sector for the past three decades. Agriculture today has become globalized and the idea of integrating Indian agriculture with the World economy is gaining traction.
- Agro-industry sector- Agro-industry provides jobs to postgraduates in agriculture as scientists, in sales & marketing, and as product experts. These areas of work are related to production, food processing, grain and seed processing, machinery and equipment, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicide, etc. for which people with adequate qualification/knowledge in the respective field are required.
Agro-based industries such as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and sugar industries are some of the potential sectors of employment. To tap the potential of food industries, several retailing markets such as Reliance Fresh, Aditya Birla Group, Walmart, ITC, Nilgiris, Pantaloons, Q shops, Food Bazaars, etc. are expanding their business that augments job opportunities.
- Under ICAR- One may choose a career under ICAR in the areas of research and become an Agricultural Research Scientist (ARS). The recruitment to these posts is made through ARS/ NET examination conducted by ASRB for scientific posts and lectureship in SAUs. The postgraduate students may also work as Research Associates or Senior Research Fellow in ICAR funded research schemes.
- Career in horticultural science- It deals with the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, flowers, spices, plantations, medicinal and aromatic crops. It also covers the post-harvest management and value-addition through various commercial products of horticultural produce.
Horticulture graduates can be recruited as Technical Assistant/ Training Assistant in SAUs/ICAR institutes, DRDO, CSIR, etc., and as Horticulture Inspector/Food Inspector and Vegetable Inspector/ Marketing Inspector/ADO in various state departments.
- Fisheries science- After completing the Master’s and Ph.D. degrees, they become eligible to apply for the post of Scientist in various ICAR institutes as well as Assistant Professor in Agricultural Universities.
In the aquaculture field, opportunities exist in becoming a Technical Officer in research institutes, national organizations, e.g. National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) and state fisheries department, etc., feed technologist in feed manufacturing companies, subject matter specialist in KVK’s, pharmaceutical industry for the preparation of various medicines, as a fishery inspector or a deep-sea fishery worker.
- Agricultural engineering– The job of an agricultural engineer is to develop better engineering technologies, equipment, methods, and inventions for speedy and efficient farm operations, soil and water conservation, post-harvest processing, and value addition.
Job opportunities exist for private consultancies as well as large farms or estates managements, in agribusiness firms, fertilizer and irrigation companies, farming companies, industry service organizations.
- Dairy technology- Dairy technology is a branch of engineering that deals with the processing of milk and its products. Professionals can also opt for teaching jobs in universities and colleges as Assistant Professor. This field has a lot of opportunities for those who want to pursue a career as a researcher.
- Food technology- This is a discipline in which engineering, biological, and physical sciences are applied to study the nature of foods, the causes of their deterioration, the principles underlying food processing, and the improvement of foods for the consumers.
Food Science being a multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary versatile, and collaborative area of specialization, the career opportunities are immense in teaching, research, food quality control, consumerism, nutrition and dietetics, placement in industries, hospitals, health clinics, etc.
The profession in the same includes Food product Development Scientist/Production Manager/ Product Development Manager, Sensory Scientist, Flavour Technologist, Quality Assurance Manager/Food Quality Control Officer, Food Safety Expert, Food Microbiologist, Food Chemist, Food Technologist, Food Process Engineer, etc.
- Biotechnology- Most biotechnologists are employed in research and development departments or institutions involved in biotechnological work. From the production of antimicrobial agents, reagents and consumables to the marketing of instruments used in biotechnological applications and research, the opportunities for biotechnologists are on the rise.
India is an agricultural country. Agriculture and its allied activities act as the main source of livelihood for more than 80% population of rural India. Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for about 58% of India’s population.
So, there is an immediate need to invest more and more in research in this sector. With our promising youth getting attracted to this sector with an increase in opportunities gradually, a bright future in R&D in Agriculture is predicted for India.