Do you want to make a difference by improving food sources? Do you hold a belief that scientific research is indispensable for a nation’s agricultural growth and want to contribute to the cause, and are generally fascinated by the flora and fauna of this earth? If yes, then you may consider Agricultural Scientist as your calling. Agricultural scientists develop more cost-effective ways of producing agricultural products by researching and experimenting with plant yields, soils, various types of crops, animal reproduction, animal nutrition, and farm management.
Why become an Agriculture Scientist?
As an Agricultural Scientist, you will be involved in study and research on plants, soil, plant breeding, plant diseases, irrigation methods, pest control in farmlands, farming techniques and various other related fields of science and technology. You will use the research findings to improve techniques of agriculture so as to improve the yield of farm produces (or crops such as rice, wheat, maize, vegetables, cotton, fruits, coffee, etc.), improve the quality of food processed from the farm produce, conserve the environment and reduce the cost of farming.
Depending upon your specialization, you may study and research on breeding and raising of farm animals such as poultry, goats, pigs, cows, buffalo, and fish, animal nutrition, animal behaviour, animal diseases, animal habitat, and various other related fields of science and technology. You will use the research findings to improve techniques of animal farming so as to improve the yield of farm produces (such as eggs, milk, meat, etc.), improve the quality of food processed from farm produces, conserve the environment and reduce the cost of animal farming.
Popular Specializations in Agriculture Scientist career
Below are some of the specializations you may choose from –
- Agriculture Biochemist: Agricultural biochemistry is the study of both chemistry and biochemistry which are important in agricultural production, the processing of raw products into foods and beverages, and in environmental monitoring and remediation.
- Agricultural Biotechnologist: Agricultural biotechnology, also known as agritech, is an area of agricultural science involving the use of scientific tools and techniques, including genetic engineering, molecular markers, molecular diagnostics, vaccines, and tissue culture, to modify living organisms: plants, animals, and microorganisms.
- Agriculture Chemist: Agricultural chemistry is the study of both chemistry and biochemistry which are important in agricultural production, the processing of raw products into foods and beverages, and in environmental monitoring and remediation.
- Agriculture Economist: Agricultural economics is an applied field of economics concerned with the application of economic theory in optimizing the production and distribution of food and fiber.
- Agricultural Entomologist: Entomology is the study of insects and their relationship to humans, the environment, and other organisms. Agricultural entomology is a subdivision of Entomology which is the study of field crops, fruit and vegetable pests.
- Agricultural Communication Expert: Agricultural communication is a field that focuses on communication about agriculture-related information among agricultural stakeholders and between agricultural and non-agricultural stakeholders.
- Agricultural Microbiologist: Agricultural microbiology is a branch of microbiology dealing with plant-associated microbes and plant and animal diseases. It also deals with the microbiology of soil fertility, such as microbial degradation of organic matter and soil nutrient transformations.
- Agricultural Physicist: Agrophysics is a branch of science bordering on agronomy and physics, whose objects of study are the agroecosystem – the biological objects, biotope and biocoenosis affected by human activity, studied and described using the methods of physical sciences. Using the achievements of the exact sciences to solve major problems in agriculture, agrophysics involves the study of materials and processes occurring in the production and processing of agricultural crops, with particular emphasis on the condition of the environment and the quality of farming materials and food production.
- Crop Scientist: Crop science is the study of the world’s major food, feed, turf, and fiber crops and their environment. It is a broad discipline encompassing breeding, genetics, production, and management.
- Floriculturist: Floriculture, or flower farming, is a discipline of horticulture concerned with the cultivation of flowering and ornamental plants for gardens and for floristry, comprising the floral industry. The development, via plant breeding, of new varieties is a major occupation of floriculturists.
- Food Scientist: Food science draws from many disciplines such as biology, chemical engineering, and biochemistry in an attempt to better understand food processes and ultimately improve food products for the general public. As the stewards of the field, food scientists study the physical, microbiological, and chemical makeup of food. By applying their findings, they are responsible for developing the safe, nutritious foods and innovative packaging that line supermarket shelves everywhere.
- Fruit And Vegetable Scientist: Fruit and vegetable management offers specialization in the science and practice of growing, harvesting, handling, storing, processing, and marketing tree fruits, small fruits, and vegetables.
What does Agriculture Scientist do?
As an agriculture scientist, there will have several responsibilities under you including the following:
- Make research results available to other professionals or the public or teach related courses or seminars.
- Conduct experiments to develop new or improved varieties of field crops, focusing on characteristics such as yield, quality, disease resistance, nutritional value.
- Develop or improve methods or products for controlling or eliminating weeds, crop diseases, or pests.
- Check raw ingredients for maturity or stability for processing, and finished products for safety, quality, and nutritional value.
- Inspect food processing areas to ensure compliance with government regulations and standards for sanitation, safety, quality, and waste management.
- Evaluate food processing and storage operations and assist in the development of quality assurance programs
- Study methods to improve aspects of foods, such as chemical composition, flavour, colour, texture, and nutritional value
- Conduct research to determine the best methods of planting, cultivating, harvesting, storing, or transporting horticultural products.
How to become an agriculture scientist – Eligibility criteria
At Undergraduate level
- After completing your junior secondary education, you should pick Science with Biology (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology) in 10+2, after which you can go for a BSc in Agriculture/BSc in Agricultural Biotechnology/other related courses
- After completing your junior secondary education, you should pick Science with Biology and Maths (Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology) in 10+2, after which you can go for a B.E./Btech in Agricultural Engineering
Post Graduation and Qualification Exam
- After Graduation, you have carried on with post-graduation by choosing to further study and research in a specialization of your interest. A Master’s degree is mandatory if you are looking to be an agricultural scientist. Some of the specializations available for a Master’s degree are Agricultural Biochemistry, Agricultural Biotechnology, Soil Science, Agricultural Microbiology, Agricultural Entomology, Agriculture economics, Floriculture, Horticulture, among others
- You can further pursue a Doctorate in the said specializations.
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The fees for becoming an agriculture scientist in India can vary depending on the university or institution. Here are some estimates:
- Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI): The total fees for a Ph.D. program at IARI is around Rs. 60,000 for three years. For a Master’s degree, the total fees are around Rs. 30,000 for two years.
- National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI): The total fees for a Ph.D. program at NDRI is around Rs. 70,000 for three years. For a Master’s degree, the total fees are around Rs. 50,000 for two years.
- Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU): The total fees for a Ph.D. program at TNAU is around Rs. 80,000 for three years. For a Master’s degree, the total fees are around Rs. 40,000 for two years.
- Punjab Agricultural University (PAU): The total fees for a Ph.D. program at PAU is around Rs. 70,000 for three years. For a Master’s degree, the total fees are around Rs. 45,000 for two years.
These are just some examples of the fees for agriculture science programs in India. It is important to note that fees may vary depending on the institution and the program you choose.
The Agricultural Scientist Recruitment Board (ASRB) under ICAR conducts the ARS exam for recruitment as an Agricultural Scientist for various vacancies under different specializations.
Candidates who clear ARS exam are recruited to the post of Junior Scientist after a period of training.
Alternatively, you can instead clear the NET exam conducted by ASRB and join into one of these institutes as a Young Professional (Consultant) or a Junior Research Fellow.
Following are some entry-level jobs available as an agricultural scientist:
- Junior Scientist after ARS exam
- Junior Research Fellow after clearing NET-ASRB exam
- Associate Professor at the educational institute after clearing NET-ASRB exam
- Young Professional (Consultant) after clearing NET-ASRB exam
- Agricultural Development Officer through State Government exam after postgraduation
Some organizations where you can get a job:
- ICAR institutes
- Educational Institutes
- Energy Corporations
- DuPont India
- National Agro Industries
- Advanta India
- Nestle India
- Dabur India
- Cadbury India
- PepsiCo India
Salary of agriculture scientist
Following are salary figures for a few prominent jobs mentioned under the job opportunities sector
- ICAR Scientist- Rs 57,700- Rs 68,900 per month
- ICAR Senior Scientist- Rs 1,31,400 per month
- ICAR Principal Scientist- Rs 1,44,200 per month
- Junior Research Fellow after NET-ASRB- Rs 25,000- Rs 28,000 per month
- Young Professional Consultant at ICAR institutes- Rs 25,000 per month
- Assistant Professor- Rs 28,000- Rs 80,000 per month
- Professor- Rs 80,000- Rs 2,00,000 per month
- Agricultural Development Officer- Rs 35120-Rs 87130 per month
With other jobs such as Agricultural engineer, you would typically start out with a salary of Rs 20,000- Rs 30,000. With 4-5 years of experience, they attract a salary in the range of Rs 35000- Rs 55,000, and after more than 7 years of experience their salary usually falls in the Rs 60,000- Rs 1,20,000 bracket.
Career progression in agriculture scientist
We have already listed several entry-level jobs such as Junior Research Scientist, junior Research fellow, Associate professor, and Assistant Project Manager.
After amassing 3-6 years on the job you can move onto mid-level roles such as Senior Research scientists, Senior Research Fellow, Project Manager, Business Development Executive, Assistant Professor and more.
With more than 6-8 years of experience, you can move on to Senior Roles such as that of Principal Scientist, Professor, Senior Project Manager, Area Sales Manager etc
What does industry trends say – Future Prospects
India has the 10th-largest arable land resources in the world. With 20 agro-climatic regions, all 15 major climates in the world exist in India. The country also possesses 46 of the 60 soil types in the world. During the 2017-18 crop year, food grain production is estimated at a record of 284.83 million tonnes. In 2018-19, Government of India is targeting foodgrain production of 285.2 million tonnes. Production of horticulture crops is estimated at 306.82million tonnes (mt) in 2017-18 as per third advance estimates. This data clearly suggests that India is largely an agrarian economy. But where more than sixty per cent of people practice agriculture, the GDP share of agriculture is less than twenty percent, which clearly states the need of innovative agricultural practices to boost output sustainably, which is why there is a need of agricultural scientists more than ever.
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