Dr. Sunil Rai
Indian agriculture sector is undergoing a transformation driven by advancements in new-age technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) among others. From conventional forms of farming to Smart Agriculture, the industry has taken a progressive leap and is being seen as one of the most attractive career avenues for the new age millennials.
New technological emergence like Agronomy, Crop Data Management has resulted in making Smart Farming grow exponentially as data have become the key element in modern agriculture to help producers with critical decision-making.
Agronomy, is one of the most ambitious progresses in the field of Agriculture Industry 4.0. Being a branch of agriculture that focuses on yielding optimum food production through effective field management, it is seen as a dynamic discipline for the aspirants who seek to make a career for themselves in this field. The field of Agronomy provides better understanding of plant and environment where agricultural practices are modified, and new practices are developed for high productivity.
The world food demand is projected to double by 2050. As per Fifth Deans Committee Report, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, it is estimated that India would be able to meet only 59% of its total food demand by the year 2030. With predicted projections of population almost doubling up by 2050, finding better and smarter ways to grow food is essential.
According to experts, it is envisioned that the upcoming future of agriculture will be dominated with the use of technology in all the aspects, from production to processing to logistics. It is believed to become a norm rather than an exception. Considering this, the field of smart agriculture as a profession is bound to transcend in upping India’s employability rate.
Agro-based economies like India are realising the potential of this field and the industry at large is booming with new career avenues. Furthermore, the growing use of genetically modified crops will likely improve the yield for Indian farmers. With times, the field of Agronomy has been garnering huge interest from the millennials.
A Master’s in Agronomy is designed for students who are interested in plants and soils as they relate to economic crop production and environmental protection. Agronomists deal with interactions among plants, soils & the environment using sophisticated research techniques & tools to develop new crop varieties that grow more efficiently.
Here are top career options within agronomy that students can opt for:
1. Agronomist or crop consultant - Agronomists develop innovative farm technologies & practices that not only improve the quality and yield of crops, but also in controlling the weeds and pests and therefore protecting the crops and hence, the environment.
2. Soil conservationist - A soil conservationist is a scientist who monitors the condition of land and develops ways to enhance sustainability, conserve soil and counter erosion.
3. Plant breeders - Plant breeders study seed characteristics and work to improve those characteristics that are most desirable for a plant, such as yield, size, quality, maturity, and resistance to frost, drought, disease and insect pests.
4. Lab researcher - A lab researcher spends time in the lab going over crop data that has been collected to find out how to improve the next generation. They have to think critically and solve problems concerning the planting, harvesting, and cultivation of crops. They also develop methods for protecting the crops from weeds, pests, and harsh climates.
The scope and opportunities in this field are endless. Other than the technical expertise, there are certain skill sets that are a must to excel in this field. They include:
- Critical thinking is required for crop production. It is a serious and research-oriented business. One must have the ability to think differently and open to experimenting that can eventually help in increasing crop production
- Good communication skills is key to this field. Given that a daily communication is required with farmers, good hold of local languages is required for seamless conversations to explain the mechanics easily to them
- Work in the agricultural sector demands excessive fieldwork so an individual should be able to adapt to local climates and diverse weather conditions
Holistic courses like these are being provided by several institutions of higher learning. India is at the brink of witnessing an IoT revolution and the new technologies are being deployed across various verticals, including Agriculture. With the rapid technological advancements in hand, the opportunities in the field of Smart Agriculture are bound to grow manifold in the coming years.
The writer is Vice Chancellor, UPES
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