Binoo P Bonny, head, Center for Gender Studies in Agriculture, Kerala Agricultural University (KAU), says, admission to undergraduate programs offered by the university is based on the rank in Kerala Engineering Architecture Medical (KEAM) exam conducted by the Commissioner for Entrance Examinations (CEE). “It is women’s impressive performance in the examination that is helping them to get into agricultural education as compared to their men’s counterpart,” says Bonny.
Besides, she has reasons that most of the women prefer to have a job near their hometown. “Having a degree in agricultural education may help them get a job as agricultural officer at panchayat level,” says Bonny. Other than this, they are also eligible to apply for various PSU jobs related to agriculture including various public banks, she adds.
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In 2020, out of total 457 candidates enrolled for BSc (Agriculture) in KAU, 359 of them were women. “Similar to BSc, women candidates were higher in Diploma in Agricultural Sciences (DASc), Diploma on Organic Agriculture (DOA), Engineering and Forestry courses,” informs Bonny.
A total of 41 women candidates were enrolled for DASc as compared to just 10 men. For DOA, the male-female ratio stood at 24 and 6, respectively. “Female enrollments for UG, PG and PhD courses have consistently been on the higher side since 2013-14 at KAU,” highlights Bonny.
Entrepreneurship vs job
Narendra Singh Rathore, vice-chancellor, Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology (MPUAT), Udaipur says that despite an increasing number of women candidates in different courses, entrepreneurship is the least preferred choice.
Rathore says that there are host of reasons that cause low representation of women in entrepreneurship—including societal. “Lack of family support and household responsibilities, as well as safety concerns keep women at bay when it comes to opting between job and entrepreneurship,” he says.
Citing government initiatives, Rathore says that promotion of agro-based business would also need experts in the field so job opportunities are expected to grow further.
The Central government has been implementing various schemes to promote agro-based employment in the country. Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has introduced a new component called Innovation and Agri-Entrepreneurship component under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana- Remunerative Approaches for Agriculture and Allied sector Rejuvenation (RKVY-RAFTAAR) with the objective to generate employment by promoting startups in agriculture and allied sector.
To promote agricultural education and attract students in agricultural education, various national/international scholarships are being provided to students at different levels by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).