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Why do a PhD in agriculture?

education Updated: Mar 16, 2011 10:42 IST
HT Horizons Correspondent

Want to be like the ubiquitous potato a la Indian Agricultural Research Institute’s (IARI’s) alumni. The Delhi-based institute’s students are compared to the tuber because they are found in diverse sectors in different parts of the world.

If you wish to join their ranks, then the time is now. IARI has started the application process for PhD admissions. The institute offers PhD programmes in 22 specialisations for potential researchers interested in more than just shoots and leaves.

Hari Shankar Gaur, joint director - education and dean, IARI, explains why a bright student should pursue a doctorate in this field.

“So far we have been going on about the strengths of our soil, manpower, climate conditions and crop biodiversity. But as the population grows, landing holdings decrease, greater urbanisation takes place, we have to produce more from less to feed our population.” The green revolution happened long ago. India needs “another boost” for the agricultural sector to meet domestic demands. “Plus we have to export food and other products like oil and textiles to earn foreign exchange,” Gaur elaborates. “So, we need more scientific input and cutting-edge technology,” which germinate from bright minds.

The bright young minds have an array of options in this vast field. Gaur says, “People have a notion about agriculture – this is the art of growing crops.

But this involves much more. For example, there are many avenues in chemical research for pesticides. If you wish to study physics, there’s a lot of scope in research on physical properties of soil, remote sensing to locate resources, and understand climate patterns etc.” Then of course, there are many engineering applications.

Those inclined towards the medical line can research plant as well as animal diseases. The number-crunchers may go for agricultural economics or statistics.

Gaur adds, “A lot of biotechnology is required to understand plant physiology and biochemistry and apply molecular techniques to understand gene-level controls of various processes.”

Further, he says, people specialising in food technology are much in demand.

What more? The residential institute has financial awards too – R10,500 per month for three years plus a contingency grant of R10,000 a year to buy books, equipment etc. About one-third of all its students are on IARI scholarships at any given time while the others win bigger rewards from government bodies such as the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research.

As regards job prospects, the institute boasts 100% placements of its students. “Nearly 70% of our students get into research and teaching, about 10% into other public services, around 10% into the private sector and the rest go for further studies,” says Gaur.
As per official data, there has been a surge in the number of admission-hopefuls. The institute received 2200 applications for 128 PhD places last year, up from 1400 the year before. Selection is through a test (70% weightage), academic score (20%) and an interview (10%). The entrance test will consist of one paper of three parts: Part I (general agriculture) and Parts II and III (subject paper). The academic score is calculated on the basis of percentage of marks in exams from Class 10 onwards.

Phd programmes offered
. Agricultural chemicals
. Agricultural economics
. Agricultural engineering
. Agricultural extension
. Agricultural physics
. Agricultural statistics
. Agronomy
. Biochemistry
. Entomology
. Environmental sciences
. Genetics
. Horticulture
. Microbiology

. Molecular biology and biotechnology
. Nematology
. Plant genetic resources
. Plant pathology
. Plant physiology
. Post-harvest technology
. Seed science and technology
. Soil science and agricultural chemistry
. Water science and technology

Application deadline: April 6, 2011.
More on www.iari.res.in

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