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Agriculture

FACULTY OF AGRICULTURE

 

              West Bengal is essentially an agricultural state and 3/4th of its’ population living in rural areas and depends on agriculture and allied occupations. Revered William Carey initiated agricultural research and other related activities in Bengal by establishing Agri-Horticultural Society during 1820. Agricultural education in Bengal was started in 1898 at Civil Engineering College, the forerunner of Bengal Engineering and ScienceUniversity at Howrah. The Govt. of West Bengal established the state college of agriculture affiliated to the University of Calcutta at 1952, which was housed in a hired building popularly known as Ranikuthi. The college of agriculture was shifted to Haringhata in 1958 and came under the Jurisdiction of the KalyaniUniversity in 1960. The State Agricultural University Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya (BCKV), the first of its kind in the State, came into existence in 1974 with prime objective to deal with the multifaceted agricultural production constraints through generation of technologies and technical manpower resources. Likewise all agricultural universities, it also started functioning armed with teaching, research and extension wings. Shortly after establishment of the University at Mohanpur of Nadia District it was realised by the agricultural scientists as well as the policy makers of the state that the magnitude of agricultural problems of distant northern districts could not be tackled effectively from the monitoring nucleus stationed at Mohanpur of Nadia district. This was more so because of, the fact that apart from the relative agricultural backwardness, not only the northern tract of West Bengal almost in entirety had a pattern of agro-climatological setting distinctively different compared to its southern counterpart but also there had been even sharp intra-regional soil-climatic diversities here in this part as Gangetic plains, Terai areas and even Hilly terrains attributing to the composition of its various constituent districts. As a consequence to those revelations, the North Bengal campus of the Viswavidyalaya got established at Pundibari, Cooch Behar at a distance of 700 KM from Mohanpur in 1979 comprising of one agricultural college and Regional Research station with similar objectives of generating improved technologies and imparting standard agricultural education befitting the ethnic, agroclimatic and socio-economic characteristics of this region. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research accredited the College of Agriculture at North Bengal Campus in 1986(Vide No. 5-10/85-Edn-11 dt. 23.10.1986) and recommended to open new Departments of Plant Physiology, Bio chemistry, Microbiology, Tea Science and Technology and Forestry.

The development of the college was further gained momentum with sanctioning of new teaching Departments namely, Department of Genetics and Plant Breeding into Genetics, Plant Breeding, Plant Physiology and seed Science and Technology during 1998-1999. In this perspective the State Government has sanctioned several teaching posts but due to unavailability of prospective candidates, and unwillingness to attach in a locational disadvantageous place the maximum numbers of posts was remained vacant. The development of the faculty was also brought about qualitative changes in academic activities as well. The Master Degree Programme was introduced from 1998-1999 in three Departments namely Agronomy, Plant Breeding, Agricultural Entomology. Although, Ph.D. level course instruction in selected subjects was started since 1997.

Considering continued backwardness in agricultural development of North Bengal, inspite of its immense potentiality remains untapped the State Government had decided to upgrade the North Bengal Campus of Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya to a full-fledged Agricultural University namely Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya entrusting the entire North Bengal as its jurisdiction area comprising of Faculty of Agriculture, Faculty of Horticulture, three Regional Research Stations and their sub stations during 2001.

The Faculty of Agriculture under the newly established University, Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya started its journey with the aim to impart education on agriculture, to generate the knowledge through basic and applied research, to develop and socialize the location specific agricultural technologies by offering the degrees of B.Sc (Ag) Hons for four years, M.Sc(Ag) for two years and Ph.D. for 3 years, by complying the research mandates and extension mandates. The Departments are  –

  1. Agricultural Economics
  2. Agricultural Entomology
  3. Agricultural Extension
  4. Agricultural Statistics
  5. Agronomy
  6. Biochemistry
  7. Genetics  and Plant Breeding
  8. Plant Pathology
  9. Soil Science and Agril. Chemistry
  10. Seed Science & Technology

In conformity with the decentralised approach towards development, this faculty was rested with the responsibilities to work on the problems of agriculture of five northern districts of the state for effective generation and subsequent diffusion of innovative technologies in its bid to transform the farm-based economy of the northern tract of West Bengal to a new height.

The uninterrupted process of strengthening the college both in the niche of teaching and research had contributed to the generation of good number of location specific demand driven technologies in the production of principal crops grown in North Bengal. The teachers of the college with limited facilities had rendered their service to a considerable extent in the process of socialization of newly generated region specific technologies which had been brought about observed changes in the dynamic agricultural production scenario to the greater extent. The Faculty carries a excellent educational heritage over three decades to meet the emerging need of the technical manpower resources in agriculture. The college is improvising the maintenance and promotion of standards of instruction, education and examinations and all other matters to generate the proficient, skill embedded human resources. Two grass root level governing bodies are constituted for better governance in the college regarding the teaching and other educational programmes and to maintain and promote the standards thereof; to discuss all the matter related to instructional programme and to formulate, revise the curricula. These are Departmental Committee and Faculty Council.  The chairman of the Departmental Committee is the Head of the department and the chairman of the Faculty Council is Dean of the Faculty. According to the need of the academic excellence in agriculture the new departments has been established in the college.

During the era of North Bengal Campus only 33 students were admitted under the college of agriculture. After establishment of the University, although provision for 50 students was made in case of admission in the college but due to lack of hostel facilities only 41 students were admitted. But now the college is admitting 50 number of students in graduation each year. In view of the recommendation 4th Deans’ Committee the University has decided to increase the student intake at graduation level to sixty (60) in the college from the forth coming session. The number of credit hours allocated for the disciplines crop production, crop protection, basic science, social science, allied science, rural agricultural work experience and educational exposure is 94, 63, 57, 60, 28, 40 respectively. The college of agriculture has produced 364 agricultural graduates, 79 M.Sc(Ag) students and 19 agricultural Doctorates. Most of the students had already been gainfully employed in Government, Semi-Government and private organizations. The performance of the students in all India competitive examinations namely JRF, SRF, NET was considerably remarkable. All the students after completion of graduation degree generally admit in the other University for Post-graduate degree. More than fifty percent students secure JRF or placement and engage for PG studies in nationally recognized Universities. For this reason the University has secured second position in academic excellence during the year 2009-10. The college had started the new syllabus on the basis of the recommendation of the 4th Deans’ Committee in UG, PG and Ph.D. from the year 2008-09 which is praiseworthy and contributing qualitatively towards the national higher agricultural education. The college has adopted it in true spirit and is very optimistic about the outcome of this exercise on revision of course curricula in agricultural education for successfully addressing the challenges of future agricultural development. One pre-established student placement cell under the leadership of Dean is in the college to place the students in different nationalized banks, corporate sectors, NGOs etc. according to the need of the students and the recruiters. The faculty has the provision for collaborative research reciprocated with other academic and research organisations like State Agricultural Universities, Colleges, ICAR, CSIR and other institutes with academic and research excellence in India and abroad. Students of the college enjoy various kind of fellowship in all the levels of education starting from Under graduate student to Ph.D students. During the graduation period, about 9% students avail ICAR merit scholarship, about 50% avail merit scholarship from State Government, about 7% enjoys free studentship and about 30% get scholarship from SC/ST welfare department and other agencies. M.Sc(Ag) students get merit scholarship from the state government according to their previous examination score. Ph. D. students avail the University fellowship and senior research fellowship or research associateship in externally funded research projects.

The classrooms are well equipped with the latest information technologies along with the basic physical facilities for facilitating the process of teaching. The practical classrooms are not in abundance but still the erudite teachers are rendering the practicals in a short space with the help of latest instruments and equipments. One instructional cum research farm along with the appropriate irrigation facility is attached with the college for providing the field experience to the students.

For facilitating the education process the college has an enriched central library with internet connectivity for getting e-publications database (CERA & Informa India) related to agriculture. Not only that but also it has 22564 number of books, 12 annual periodicals, 117 journals and CD Rom of CABI abstracts, AGRICOLA abstracts, AGRIS abstracts etc.

The students are provided in depth learning both in theoretical and practical aspects of agriculture. They are provided practical learning by carrying out activities pertaining to agricultural technologies and recent approaches. The undergraduate students are also given the exposure of field extension work under Rural Agricultural Work Experience (RAWE) programme. In this RAWE programme the students are exposed to realities in farmer’s field or in agro-based industrial situations. The students are groomed through practicing agricultural diagnostic services of soil, water and plants and gaining the acumen of generating appropriate measures. Such a learning process is surely improving their organizational skill by practice, enriches their knowledge pool through collective wisdom, expands their creative faculties through repetitive analysis and interpretation and ultimately refines them as professional through sharing and interaction.

The Central Students Union encourages various cultural activities of the students throughout the year in the form of song, drama, general knowledge, indoor game competition etc. It also organizes freshers’ welcome and farewell ceremony, annual social function etc. Above all it encourages the literal activities of students and publishes annual magazine in this perspective. To accommodate the students, two boys’ hostels and one girl hostel are there. All the hostels are equipped with good drinking water facility, sanitary facility, ample dinning space and common room space, sufficient play ground facility and canteen facility and computers with LAN facility. The college has a well equipped medical unit adjacent to the residential complex with a full time Doctor to provide health facilities to the students and staffs for health diagnostic services and supplying free medicine to all. The unit also possesses one ambulance for 24 hour services.

The students are also exposed to different Indian agrarian societies with the help of exposure visits organized by the college itself. The first year students are exposed to the West Bengal agrarian scenario and the second year students onwards are exposed to the North and South Indian agrarian scenario.

The teaching strength of the college is hardly according to the need but the teachers are offering their classes in a best way by doing justice to the profession. They are also responsible and accountable to their jobs. Faculty of each category maintains a daily work diary mentioning their time of arrival, departure, number of classes taken, brief daily activities of research and extension programme performed. On the last working day the activities so recorded are checked and countersigned by the immediate controlling officer. Some of the teachers are also shouldering the extra administrative responsibility too due to the man power crunch as a whole. Besides these the faculties have been associated as policy makers, subject matter specialists, members of scientific advisory committee, monitoring committee and academic experts of various institutes and research organisations. In spite of the heavy workload the faculty members has published and documented their valuable research aptitude in the form of 426 research papers, 29 technical articles, 59 popular articles published in different journals, bulletins etc., 52 books and chapters published by the publishers of national and international repute since 2001. The coaching classes are also organised by the college teachers to enrich the students for various competitive  examinations like JRF and SRF, NET examination conducted by ICAR.

Each faculty member enjoys due opportunity in participating the capacity building programmes like refresher courses, seminars, symposiums, conferences and continuing educations as per his /her will. Strategically the will of a faculty is harnessed by linking the same with these promotional credentials under Career Advancement Scheme. Specific quantitative weightage has been allocated upon various capacity activities and to get the promotion such multi-plugged activity participation is mandatory required for. Several training programmes at national level can be one of the options for building the capacity of the faculty members in a specific subject.

All faculties of the college irrespective of the nature of primary assignment could be able to undertake research projects in addition to their primary responsibility. The teachers get research project proposals funds from various external funding agencies for basic and applied research. The college is very much concerned to maintain standards of teaching, research and extension activities performed by the teachers. For this purpose the college deputes the teachers for higher studies and training programmes. The faculties also organise various short model training programmes, workshops, seminars etc. for sharing the experiences of the leading academicians of the world. The faculties are also associated with different externally funded research projects like two NAIP, nine RKVY, one resource conservation project, one developmental project, two mission mode projects and sixteen ad hoc projects as principle investigator or co principle investigator. Apart from external funding the faculties also inducted in the multidisciplinary team of the scientists to conduct need based, problem oriented research having regional relevancy whenever necessary and basically offered to the post-graduate students for researching. Mostly such researches are aimed at understanding of natural system interrelation among the natural resources, biological process of agricultural production, environmental impact etc. The thrust areas of such type of research in college of agriculture are  soil chemistry, soil fertility, plant nutrition, soil test based crop scheduling, integrated disease management, bio control technology for disease management, integrated nutrient management of crops with bio fertilizers and bio-control agents, Natural resource conservation techniques, isolation, characterization, evaluation and development of mass production techniques of indigenous and exotic entomopathogenic bacteria and fungus, developing forecasting models (Simulation of Important crop pests and epidemiology of important diseases for the region through corroborating climatological (macro and micro level) parameters with pest population, disease incidence and crop phenology, studies on behavioural biology of major crop pests to manipulate them in future IPM programme, formulation of IPM modules befitting critical diversified farming system in resource poor, small, marginal, share cropper dominated farming community of North Bengal,  crop biochemistry,  pesticide chemistry including their dissipation and degradation, natural products chemistry including screening bioactive phyto-chemicals, development of short duration quality rice genotypes, characterization of regional rice germplasm and screening for parameters related to biotic and abiotic stress, host-pathogen interaction for rice diseases with special reference to bacterial blight, development of mungbean genotypes suitable for North Bengal, development of fodder and feed quality rice bean genotypes, development of mustard genotypes having tolerance to boron deficiency, micro-propagation of legumes for better regeneration, applied fields of econometrics & statistical genetics, general impact of  re-mandated KVK , gender analysis, Indigenous technical knowledge, participatory technology development,  information communication technology, climate change adaptation and mitigation strategy, entrepreneurship development and management etc. The research findings has already been described in chapter 10 namely Research initiatives.

The faculty is also shouldering the responsibility of the dissemination of the research findings to the ultimate stakeholders of the matter. In this case the faculties or the teachers are the prime movers of the research generated, socio-culturally acceptable technologies for its dissemination to the farming community of North Bengal. Previously only the college was taking the sole responsibility of the extension of the scientific knowledge but now due to the establishment of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) in the University the lion share of extension is shouldering by the KVKs. In this perspective the college has organised the following extension activities in recent years:

  1. Conducting different soil testing programme, training for fertilizer recommendation at farmers’ level
  2. Conducting demonstration of role of biofertilizer on wheat and legumes through front line demonstration in farmers’ field
  3.  Conducting demonstration of Maize- Potato Intercropping/ and conservation agricultural approaches for rice-wheat cropping system through front line demonstration
  4. Popularization of legume in cropping sequence to ameliorate soil health through participatory approaches
  5. Providing advisory service to the farmers for management of diseases of different crops.
  6. Providing advisory service to the farmers for management of Late Blight of Potato through farmers meeting.
  7. Training on mushroom cultivation and spawn production.
  8. Providing regular farm advisory service to the farmers’ of the district visited on pest management of different crops.
  9. Conducting Farmers Scientist Students interaction
  10. Conducting participatory seed production programme of rice
  11. Providing suggestions to farmers in selecting good genotypes and management practices in different farmers gatherings
  12. Rendering  advisory services through the extension staff working in the Directorate of Extension Education.

Though the accomplishment of the college is not exhaustive but still the self explanatory and self propelled description can harness the interest and create a motivation to help the nascent college to flourish in near future with a holistic approach of promoting teaching, research and extension for the upliftment of the pro-poor peasants of Northern West Bengal