Agriculture is the production, processing, marketing and use of foods, fibers and byproducts from plant crops and animals. India is one of the leading agricultural countries in the world and our Agricultural sector plays a crucial role in the economic development of the country. Agriculture contributes around 23% of the Gross Domestic product (GDP). About 62% of Indian population depend on agriculture for livelihood, it provides large scale employment and also fulfills the food and nutritional requirements of the nation. India also has enormous potential as an exporter of agricultural commodities. The variety of climatic types and natural conditions offer a conducive environment for the cultivation of a large variety of agricultural produce. A country is usually considered to be socially and politically stable, if it possesses a very stable agricultural base. Agriculture has emerged as a vast and diversified field encompassing so many areas, that there are numerous career opportunities to be considered in this field. The field of agriculture includes farm management, businesses and industries that manufacture agricultural machinery, industries that buy and process the farm products, banking activities for financing and developing farms, research for improving quantity and quality of farm products, so on and so forth.
Study of economic principles, with emphasis on their application, to the solution of farm, agribusiness and agricultural industry problems in relationship to other sectors is known as Agricultural Economics. Agricultural economics deals with the business side of agriculture. The field of agricultural economics looks at all elements of food production and applies rational thought and planning as a whole. From crops, livestock, land usage and soil content, all aspects of farm life are examined, including how its relation to one another can be strengthened.
Those who work in this business field of agriculture is known by the name Agricultural economists. Agricultural economists manage farms and other agricultural industries by applying business concepts and problem-solving techniques. Agricultural economists also predict trends in markets for farm products. They closely observe and explain changes in the market. An agricultural economist; would monitor crops, prices, animal health, equipment, imports and exports, weather cycles, buying patterns, and new methods of production.
A career in agricultural economics is ideal for those who enjoy agricultural business and also have a knack for calculation and economical theory. Agricultural economics combines the technical aspects of agriculture with the business aspects of management, marketing and finance thus providing range of careers in fields like marketing of commodities and management of agribusinesses, farms and ranches.
Students who wish to pursue a career in agricultural economics should possess a strong base in botany, physics, chemistry and mathematics. Various agricultural universities and colleges in India offers Under-graduate, Post-graduate, Diploma and Doctorate courses in agricultural economics. To be an Agricultural economist at least a masters degree is required.
The basic eligibility criteria for a bachelors programe in Agriculture is a pass in 10+2 or equivalent in science subjects (with Physics, Chemistry, Biology or Mathematics) with a minimum of 50% marks. Minimum duration is 4 years. Most of the universities/institutes offer agricultural economics as a subject or specialisation of B Sc. agricultural science courses. Applicants must possess a Bachelors degree in agriculture or an equivalent qualification for studying M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics which is of 2 years duration. Ph. D. Degree Programme in Agricultural Economics requires a master degree. Agricultural Economics imparts students with the knowledge about agricultural production, finance, marketing and policy. The study focuses on crops, animal health, prices, buying pattern, weather cycles, imports and exports, agricultural equipment and techniques of production.
For a career as an agricultural scientist, a master's degree is necessary and Ph.D in agriculture is needed for the post of a senior researcher and teaching profession. Those with post graduate diploma and degree in agriculture and related subjects can become an agriculture technologists. Those with masters degree in agricultural economics can apply for Agricultural Research Service and National Eligibility Test conducted by Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB) for appointment as Scientists in the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
Personal attributes: Agricultural economist should have a keen and analytical mind, a high level of concentration, an aptitude for research, ability to work as part of a team, positive and optimistic attitude, ability to foresee future trends in market, ability to conduct statistical analysis, make effective decisions based on patterns and trends, an interest in scientific developments. Other needed attributes are good observation skills, communication skill, organizing skills, written and oral skills, problem solving skills. Computer knowledge is also essential to analyze data. This profession demands hard work, commitment and a high level of patience.