Agricultural education in India has registered huge expansion in quantitative terms during the last two decades. At the start of this century, there were about 35 agricultural universities. That number has more than doubled to 75, of which 15 are exclusively dedicated to veterinary and animal sciences, five to horticulture and forestry, three to fisheries and one to dairy.
Unfortunately only 58 out of the 75 universities currently have full or even limited accreditation from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
Agri-Univ In Top 100
Only eight universities figured in the top-100 list of the Ministry of Human Resorce Development’s National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) for 2017. These are
–Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi
–Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore
–Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana
–Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Chennai
–Anand Agricultural University, Anand
–Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana
–Y S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan
— Rajasthan University of Veterinary and Animals Sciences, Bikaner
There is also evidence of declining standards of both faculty and facility in many universities. And that is reflected in the quality of students coming out. Out of the 30,000-odd graduates annually appearing for the ICAR-National Eligibility Test, less than a fifth manage to clear it.
What Is The Need Of The Hour
The ICAR should be made the sole apex body for regulating agricultural education in the country. If the ICAR is better empowered, it can regulate agricultural education by mandating minimum standards for starting colleges/universities and offering courses.
What we need today is a scheme of tagging the agricultural universities not making the mark with the IARI or SAUs figuring in the top-100 NIRF rankings. This could yield results of the kind from the attachment programme between the first SAUs and the US land grant universities.
The writer is former vice-chancellor of Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology, Udaipur.