Do you love to work in the field of agriculture science? Are you interested in using the power of technology and science to improve the quality of agriculture and agricultural yield in India? If you think yes, then there are several career options for you like plant scientist, botanist, agriculturist, agricultural engineering, agricultural biotechnologist and horticulturist. If you are particularly interested in solving problems of better seeds, better yield, more resistant crops, then agricultural biotechnologist might be a career for you.
An agriculture biotechnologist is a specialist who works to improve the quality of seeds, quality of crops, genetically modified crops, crops more resistant to diseases, microbes and pests, etc. As an agricultural biotechnologist, you will use the knowledge of biotechnology and use it on agricultural crops. You will also use scientific tools and technology to improve genes of certain crops, mix genes of one crop with others to give certain features, produce vaccines, etc.
Why become an Agriculture Biotechnologist?
Agricultural biotechnologist is a specialist who use scientific tools, research, technology, etc.to modify living organisms like plants and animals. While some of the agricultural biotechnologists only focus on crops, they are commonly known as crop biotechnologist. As a biotechnologist, you will use methods and techniques like genetic engineering, molecular markers, molecular diagnostics, vaccines, and tissue culture. Through these techniques, the desired traits of one crop are exported to entirely different species. Thus, the transgene crops have the desired flavour, colour, troth rate, harvesting period, resistance to diseases and pets, etc.
Through these methods, you will improve the nutritional quality of certain crops to meet the requirement of the increasing population of the world. Some plants are given genetic resistance to pests and insects through genetic modification. You will also increase the diseases resistance of different agricultural plants.
What does Agriculture Biotechnologist do?
As an agriculture Biotechnologist, depending on your field of specialisation, you would have the following roles and responsibilities:
- You have to identify genes that give a certain feature to certain crops.
- You will work on different species to change or modify their genes so that they develop certain desired features.
- You will breed different varieties of the same crop to produce more diseases resistant crops.
- You will also produce new breeds of crops based on genetic engineering that will produce a protein that kills insects when they feed on these genetic engineering crops.
- You will perform research on genes and plants in research laboratories.
- You will set up laboratory equipment to conduct research and monitor results.
- You will be responsible for collecting and studying different samples such as crops, tissues, cells, etc.
- You will record finding and analyse the final results.
- You will present your research results to the industry, government, other researchers, etc.
How to become an Agriculture Biotechnologist – Eligibility criteria
You can do a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture or Biotechnology or in a related subject and then do a Master degree in Agricultural Biotechnology / Plant Biotechnology.
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To become an Agriculture Biotechnologist in India, one can pursue a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Ph.D. degree in Agricultural Biotechnology. The educational fees for these programs can vary depending on the institution and the program’s duration. On average, a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Biotechnology can cost anywhere between INR 50,000 to INR 2 lakhs per year. The cost of a Master’s degree in Agricultural Biotechnology can range from INR 1 lakh to INR 3 lakhs per year, and for a Ph.D. in Agricultural Biotechnology, the fees can range from INR 10,000 to INR 1 lakh per year.
Most of the universities and college will hire you as a professor at the position of Junior Professor or Assistant Professor.
If you are into research, then you will be hired at the position of research associate. PhD research fellows will be hired as a Junior Research Fellow.
Research laboratories and Research Institutes will hire you as a scientist/scientist officer with the lowest grade (Grade C).
If you want to be a scientist in the private sector, you will be hired as a research associate.
You may join as seed technologist in the seed industry.
If you are into management and sales side of biotechnology products, seeds, etc. you may join as marketing executive or sales executive.
You can find job opportunities at the following facilities:
- Agricultural Research Organizations and institutes like the Indian Agricultural Research Institute.
- Agriculture, Agriculture Biotechnology, and related colleges and universities.
- Research centres and laboratories like National Institute of Plant Research Genome, National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute, etc.
- Fertilizers companies.
- National Seed companies.
Salary of an Agriculture Biotechnologist
At the entry level, you can join as a research associate with a basic salary of Rs. 25,000 to 30,000. As a doctoral research fellow (junior research fellow) you would be earning around Rs. 35,000 to 38,000 per month. At the entry level, as a Scientist (grade C) you would be earning around Rs. 80,000 to 100,000 per month. As an assistant professor, you would be earning anything between Rs. 65,000 to 70,000 per month. As a scientist in private companies, you will earn anything between Rs. 25,000 to 1,00,000 per month. As a sales executive, you might earn anything between Rs. 20,000 to 50,000 per month.
At the junior level with a work experience of 2-6 years, you would be earning anything between Rs. 70,000 to 1,40,000 per month.
At the middle level with an experience of 10-12 years, you would be earning anything between Rs. 1,40,000 to 1,90,000 per month as a scientist and Rs. 1,20,000 to 1,60,000 as a professor. As a sales/ marketing executive, you might earn anything between Rs. 50,000 to 1,50,000 per month.
At the senior level of over 15 years of work experience, you would be earning anything between Rs. 1,60,000 to 2,00,000 per month as a professor and Rs. 2,10,000 to 2,50,000 per month as a Scientist. As a sales/ marketing executive, you might earn anything between Rs. 70,000 to 2,00,000 per month.
Career progression in Agriculture Biotechnologist
Research laboratories will hire you as a scientist/scientist officer with the lowest grade and the grade changes from low to high. In India, grades are “Scientist “C” as the joining level and then D, E, F, G, H, etc. A senior-level scientist can also get into administrative positions like Principal Scientist, Assistant Director, Deputy Director, Director, etc.
The career growth in university and college states from Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor, Professor and Professor Emeritus. Professors can also get administrative positions such as Director/Dean/Vice Chancellor, etc.
If you are hired as a research associate (JRF and SRF), then you will go on to become a Doctoral Research Fellow, then Post-Doctoral Research Fellow and then Scientist in Progressive Grades.
If you join a private organisation in the field of agriculture, fertilizers, seeds, etc. as a research scientist, then you will move to senior research scientist and principal scientist with work experience.
What does industry trends say – Future Prospects
Agriculture is still the primary source of livelihood for 58% of the Indian population. The share of Agriculture in GDP is around Rs. 17.67 trillion. With over 130 crore people depending for food, agriculture is by far one of the most important industries in India. With limited scope in an increase in agriculture land, the reforms to improve sector come through scientific reforms especially with the genetically improved crops and its varieties. Thus, the role of agriculture biotechnologist has been acknowledged. Even Government has initiated Agri-Udaan as a way to promote agriculture start-ups. While the Government has seen the vision of doubling farmers income by 2022, they can only be achieved by improving crops varieties, making them stronger against pesticides, pets, insects, etc.