India is an agrarian economy and agriculture is considered as the backbone of our economy. In India, Agriculture has been practiced since ancient times, when other developmental sectors were not even in existence and farming was mostly treated as a life sustaining activity. India, the country which was a net importer of food grains in early 60s, has become an intermittent exporter of various agricultural commodities. Today, agriculture field has achieved commercial importance and has tremendous potential of being one of the powerful sectors contributing to nation’s GDP. Due to the impact of globalization; production and marketing have become the buzz words in agriculture sector; biotechnology, precision farming; and various hi-tech and mechanized techniques have resulted in paradigm shift in agriculture. Besides government’s special emphasis on privatization, public private partnership, farmer organizations too have contributed to the agricultural growth. Over and above, education plays a prime role in achieving the development in any sector. Currently, agribusiness education is one of the promising qualifications helps to mould the personnel in to potent managers having managerial expertise. To realize the real potential in Indian agriculture and to grow it to the point of a prospective sector, it is necessity to manage the sector like a professional enterprise. The same can be expected by utilizing the agri-business managers having the qualities to serve the agriculture sector efficiently.
The purpose of this article is to make the farmers aware about the importance of agribusiness education so as to sustain in today’s competitive world.
Conventional education in agriculture:
In India, education system in agriculture started in early nineteenth century and today its education, research & training sectors are globally recognized for its quality. The agriculture degree course contains various subjects related to technical as well as professional background like extension, entomology, animal husbandry, engineering, statistics, biotechnology, and many more which helps students in widening their sectoral knowledge. Apart from these; governments as well as various private bodies offer informative training programmes in diverse areas which are specially designed for farmers as well as for entrepreneurs.
After graduation; students willing to go for post graduate degree can enroll either for plain M. Sc. or for agri-business management course. The M. Sc. Programme is designed to provide technical knowledge along with analytical techniques, conducting research on interested area, applying technical knowledge at primary level etc.
In Agriculture education system, management field is of very recent origin and gaining rapid popularity among students. The ABM program is planned to develop management workforce to cater agricultural Industry which serves as a good option for the students willing to perform in corporate sector.
Agribusiness management is a two years course having semester pattern system. The course itself starts from basic fundamentals like introduction to management, managerial effectiveness, business communication, business economics, quantitative techniques, basic accounting, information systems etc. These help students to be familiar with fundamental concepts of any business. Along with all these subjects, agri-business course also comprises of various technical subjects like management in agricultural and allied food processing industries, management of cooperatives, post harvest management, farm mechanization etc. In the final year, program offers elective specializations like marketing, human resource management, finance, international business management, information systems which cover the overall business activities. From these, students can opt for any single stream which helps them while choosing their career path.
In addition to these many institutes arrange industry visits; organize guest lectures, management games, business quizzes, CSR activities, personality development workshops as a part of extra-curricular and co-curricular activities. In addition to theoretical and practical knowledge, the curriculums also help students in inculcating managerial skills, soft skills and boosting confidence level which is considered as one of the most crucial part in personality development, as the Industry always prefer such type of qualities while recruitment.
Currently, some of the premier institutes providing post graduate courses in agribusiness management programs are MANAGE (Hyderabad), NIAM (Jaipur), IRMA (Gujarat), IIM (Ahmedabad), besides these there are several government, semi-government and private institutes providing the course on full time and correspondence basis. Additionally various private and government bodies offer entrepreneurship training programs to undergraduate students through agri-clinics and agri-business training centers which is a fruitful step for encouraging entrepreneurship in India.
Need, importance and scope of agribusiness management education:
Agriculture has achieved satisfactory growth since last few decades, but presently due to the various national and international factors the agricultural growth is relatively stagnated. The reports from various sources always reveals about the bottlenecks from the sector which put us back in terms of its development. The up gradation is needed right from harvesting the agricultural produce till it reaches at consumer level. Majority of the farmers and small entrepreneurs are not well-versed about standard practices required during pre-harvest as well as post-harvest operations, which undoubtedly plays a vital role in overall productivity. On other side, too many middlemen in the marketing channel are a major cause of concern. As a result of this, the farmer, who is the key performer in farming, is not getting passable returns to his produce. Consequently overall distortion in marketing channels and high price of final produce adversely affect on cost competitiveness. In addition to these, growing global population has resulted into disparity between market demand and supply side of agricultural produce. Thus special consideration is required on following proper management practices, reducing raw material wastages at farm and processing level, effective marketing strategies like advertising, brand positioning at national and international level etc. Finally, proper management of all the agribusiness activities right from planting the seed to getting the actual reward at market place is required. These issues are expected to be addressed by management education in agricultural sector which certainly has hidden potential of creating second wave of agricultural revolution.
After completing agribusiness management education, students become well versed with various management applications required to follow while running any type of business. The curriculum is the combination of management and technical subjects which offer the advantage of promptly making out any type of slip-ups in the business operations. The specializations of marketing, human resource management, finance, and international business management certainly help them in growing in the industry successfully. The marketing stream deals with following innovative selling and advertising strategies effectively and efficiently so as to sustain, finance related to carry the business operations economically by planning the income and expenditure in advance and solving the financial problems as well , human resource management educate them about how to retain and utilize the manpower effectively by giving best services, while international business management helps in growing the business globally which mainly involve in knowing about various procedures required for the same. These can be just stated as foretaste; in actual the content gives a deep knowledge about the subject. While perusing the program students also study on solving various kinds of case studies which surely give them experience of involving and solving the various kinds of business matters. The students are also obliged to undergo a summer project for two months in the respective industry which gives them exposure of working practically in the industry and surely helps in boosting their confidence level.
Potential in Agri-business education:
Agribusiness is applicable to industry, commerce as well as trade. Industry is merely manufacturing of goods, while commerce and trade involved in distribution activities.
Agriculture is the foundation of Indian economy; it provides food for the mankind and raw material for the industry. India has suitable climatic and geographic conditions favorable to agricultural growth and undoubtedly agriculture will always be an indispensable sector of the economy. In India about 60% population is directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture. But after analyzing the employment scenario of the sector, it is observed that most of the students after completing the education in agriculture ignore their own farming land and join private companies or any other institutions so as to progress in the career. There is a need to divert the knowledgeable, expert and dynamic manpower to the rural area to manage the agricultural land effectively.
The agribusiness education gives an option of joining the agricultural corporate sector as one of the good career alternatives. The corporate sectors involved in production and distribution of pesticides, fertilizers, seeds, farm equipments are some of the usual options available. Now a day there is excellent job potential in food processing sector; this is a wide area involving fruits, vegetables, fishery, meat & poultry, dairy, apiculture, sericulture sector etc. The other blooming sectors which have tremendous growth opportunities are organic farming, biofertiliser industry, retail sector, Agri- Banking, Biofuel sector, FMCGs etc. All these sectors are excellent for the scholars who want to be distinctive in terms of their profession. Another best option can be developing their own farming land in to profitable venture by applying the managerial skill plus knowledge and agribusiness managers can perform well in the same due to their suitable educational background. To shape the Indian agriculture into a commercially viable entity, there is vital need to inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship, and then only Agriculture can become a major contributor to the nation’s gross production.
By the involvement of corporate sector, agriculture field can shift from merely the stage of self sufficiency to profit gaining enterprise which will result in overall development of then Indian economy. Agri-business management has wide scope in developing the trained manpower in different area of operations viz. management personnel to cater cooperatives and agriculture industry, policy makers for overall financial sector, trained teaching staff to cater academic field, technically sound team to serve research area etc. Apart from this agriculture consultancy, journalism, agri-banking, hi-tech farming, agriculture conservation, agriculture engineering are also some potential areas of the career.
This article tries to make the farmers aware about the importance and potential in Agri-business education which can also be a best option in career progress. Management education surely helps in developing trained personnel to cater to the agriculture industry and by creating such dynamic workforce India will certainly become the leader in agriculture sector.
Mrs. Sharvari Patil (M.Sc.Agri)
Lecturer, MITCON, Institute of Management,
Balewadi, Pune, Maharashtra.