Agriculture in India is the most crucial sector for ensuring food and national security as well as sustainable development. And, India has achieved remarkable growth owing to the formalization of education and research in the field of agriculture. However, to meet the emerging needs, more professionals will be required in the offing along with quality and research-driven education institutions in the field.
Around 15,000 graduates, 11,000 masters and 2500 PhD professionals in agriculture are added every year, according to a report. There is, however, a scarcity of nearly 30,000 professionals in the field as against 65,000 required.
Owing to continuous progression in the agriculture sector, career opportunities are also evolving. Nanotechnology-based agricultural products would pave the way for innovation going forward. However, making these kinds of innovative agricultural products and machines require in-depth research & development with the participation of young minds. Besides, collaborative efforts between institutions and the exchange of knowledge across countries can bring a great change.
Reflecting her views on the need for research in agriculture, Ms Ravneet Pawha, Deakin University, said, “Research is a quintessential first step in developing a new product. It leads to innovation and development of systematic knowledge on any issue. In today’s fast-paced world, research provides a cutting edge to the companies actively engaged in it.”
“Our internationally recognised research is concentrated on the most important global challenges. Researchers at Deakin University work across disciplines affecting the breadth of society, in areas such as digital health, advanced manufacturing, materials or artificial intelligence, through to sustainable development, social sciences, arts, education, business and law. Our focus is on the innovative translation of world-class research to real business and community problems and opportunities”, she added.
International exposure for research students in agriculture and technology
International exposure means wider reach to the researchers, access to equipment, labs and ideas, experience in sharing and knowledge transfer not just for the aspirants of the field, but for respective institutions’ growth as well.
While sharing her experience as a research student from PhD days, Dr Shivani Srivastava, a Research Associate said, “During my PhD days working with Australian supervisors at Deakin University, Australia I was fortunate enough to work in the Quarantine Facility Lab at La-Trobe University. Also, the University had a collaboration with a Chemistry group at the University of Western Sydney. These international exposures helped refine my outlook and I got to know what is required at a global scale that ultimately helped me grow in my field together with the world.”
“International exposure is very important for young researchers for motivation, personality building and to build confidence and trust in the work that the researchers conduct,” shared Shalini Vasan, a PhD student at TERI-Deakin Nanobiotechnology Centre.
International collaborations have gained popularity in the last few years owing to the greater access to funding, building bilateral and multilateral relations between institutions and nations and promoting sustainable development. Through these collaborations, various global issues are being addressed and worked in conjunction for solutions.
Expressing her views, Dr Srivastava said, “Collaborations bring nations together by dealing with scientific problems collectively. I strongly believe that India, with the second-largest population, requires a solution for sustainable agriculture, water management, renewable energy needs, etc. Similarly, Australia being a developed country, faces serious issues in a wildfire due to climatic conditions and reaching out to different experts for solutions to help preserve vegetation and related sources. Since both countries understand each-others’ requirement, the collaboration between nations that are facing similar problems requires similar scientific solutions and if it is worked together in the right direction, it can immensely help build both nations in the required direction for development.“
Seemingly, connecting, sharing and innovating is need of the hour to combat global problems, be it finding a solution to the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic or any other common issues like crop cultivation for food etc.
“Deakin University’s Research and innovation in India is driven towards impact to the local communities: those which address real issues like Health and Wellbeing, Smart Technology, Sustainable Environment and Advancing Society and Culture. We test, refine and develop technologically advanced, sustainable, affordable, and long-term solutions to problems of health care, education, energy, environment, and food security, to name a few issues”, said Pawha.
She further added citing an example, “Over the last two decades, Deakin has established collaborations with various organisations and academic institutions in critical areas of importance, like agriculture and environment, in particular, our association with TERI through the jointly established TERI Deakin NanoBiotechnology Centre (TDNBC), which involves a bevy of top minds, world-class facilities and international networks to address the issue of food security and water availability through nanotechnology in agriculture.”
“The world’s population is expected to grow to almost 10 billion by 2050. With the growing need for becoming a self-reliant and self-sufficient country, we need more and more technology-based innovations in the field of agriculture and thus, the need for professionals too,” said Dr Alok Adholeya, Director, TDNBC.
Nanotechnology is an emerging tool to improve the productivity of crop and has the capability to coup-up from present agricultural issues.
Dr Adholeya added, “The producing nanomaterials have several properties like slow-release action, target action at active sites and high surface area etc. And due to this, nanotechnology can be applied in various fields including agriculture, food and processing industry and in precision farming. Use of nanosensors, nano herbicides, nano pesticides has the potential to improve the efficiency of the overall plant.”
Nanobiotechnology has a huge scope in the upcoming generations. It is the third-highest booming field when compared with IT and the Internet. The Indian government has already started Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology initiatives.
Since nanobiotechnology is a special branch that essentially combines physics, chemistry, biology, engineering and technology, it is opening up job prospects for students specializing in all the mentioned subjects. The career opportunities in the fields of Nanoscale science and technology are expanding rapidly, as these fields have an increasing impact on many aspects of our daily lives.
Indian industry has focused on nanomaterials and many scientific institutions have started research and development activities in the field. The CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) has set up 38 laboratories, across the country, to carry out research and development work in this field. Those with PhD in Nanotechnology will have vibrant opportunities in the Research & Development sectors. Candidates with PhD can also join as faculty members in Universities and colleges or research fields.
The remuneration at initial level could start from INR 40,000/- on a monthly basis. While in later stages of career, it can reach up to INR 1- 2 lakh per month.