RAICHUR: Basing himself on a research he undertook, Dr. Mruthyunjaya, a noted agricultural economist and former National Director of National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) at Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi, expressed serious concerns over declining staff strength in the department of agricultural economics in the Universities of Agricultural Sciences and other agricultural institutions across India against the increasing demand.
He was delivering keynote address at the twenty-second annual conference of Agricultural Economics Research Association (AERA) held at University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur (UAS-R) on Tuesday.
“The staff in position was less than the sanctioned strength in all categories, especially in scientific and teaching category. The crunch varied from 25 percent to 40 percent in different institutions. The shortage naturally overburdened the staff with the responsibility of teaching more courses and guiding more students whose admissions are considerably increased over the years and affected the quality of teaching and research guidance,” he observed.
He pointed out that faulty recruitment and promotion policy had resulted in skewed scientific staff towards principal scientists resembling an inverted pyramid where generals are more than the soldiers. “Reversing the inverted pyramid will take considerable time and efforts. Ageing of staff, no succession planning and fear of vacuum of experts in the near future are other issues that need to be addressed on priority basis,” he added.
According to him, the continued and increasing emphasis on farm management and production economics-oriented curriculum, despite emerging specialisations like agricultural business, marketing and trade, natural resources management, agricultural development, has resulted in a structural imbalance in the composition of human resources development and expertise-mix within the discipline.
Pointing at the poor resources mobilisation in the field of agricultural economics, Dr. Mruthyunjaya said that the consultancy efforts to develop rapport with corporate sector, government agencies and NGOs which provide funding with flexibility as well as placement opportunities to students were almost non-existent.
“Infrastructural, financial and manpower provisions for social sciences are far from adequate. There is an urgent need to raise the allocation for these facilities in state owned agricultural universities and ICAR,” he added.
Dr. Ramesh Chand, Deputy Director General (Education), (ICAR), New Delhi inaugurated the conference by lightening a lamp. Dr. Prakash M. Salimath, Vice-Chancellor, UAS-Raichur presided over. Dr. P.G. Chengappa, national professor at ICAR and president of AERA, Dr. B.V. Patil, Director of Education at and former vice chancellor of UAS-R, Dr. P.K. Joshi, Director, South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington D.C., Dr. S.S Acharya, Former Chairman, Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices Government of India, Dr. Suresh S. Patil, organising secretary, AERA conference and other leading agricultural economists, policy makers were present.