Bringing management education into the corridors of agribusiness
India’s agriculture has seen a paradigm shift since the time of independence. With green revolution, the country witnessed a thrust on food grain production. But the world trade in a globalized world is far more demanding than mere food grain production. Moreover, the domestic market in India has changed quite a bit in recent years. Indian population is growing at a rate of about 1.6% per annum which in fact has raised India’s status into a large and growing market of agricultural and food products. Food has become the single largest component of private consumption expenditure, accounting for as much as 53% of the total. Consumption of food products is increasing consistently at 7.8%. So now, agriculture is not merely farming but an enterprise catering to a constant demand of a burgeoning population.
When the entire scene of food production was fitted into the trappings of world trade, the term ‘agribusiness’ became as common as agriculture or probably became a synonym for agriculture itself. Agribusiness - a generic term that encompasses the businesses involved in food production, including farming, seed supply, agrochemicals, farm machinery, wholesaling and distribution, processing, marketing, trade and retailing - has now engulfed the entire Indian agricultural scene.
Recently, there has been a growing momentum in the agri-business and allied activities. Entrepreneurs in the agri-business are fast realising the importance of providing quality products and value-addition. As such the agri-‘business’ in India is heavily manned but not reasonably managed. In short, the chaotic nature of the conventional version of agriculture may not be competitive, if the manpower involved isn’t qualified enough. The quality can only be imparted by bringing management lessons into the broader concept of agribusiness. But the opportunities for agriculture graduates to acquire the knowledge of management concepts are limited with less than 1500 seats available in agribusiness management institutes and SAUs against about an annual production of more than 16,000 agriculture graduates from SAUs and affiliate colleges. A post graduate degree in agribusiness management in this scenario can be viewed as a ladder to one’s corporate career growth. The industry requires no less than 2500 agribusiness management professionals annually and we have a supply of only about 1500. A huge demand supply gap is resulting in sky rocketing salaries and a need is felt for producing more number of agribusiness management professionals to sustain the growth of the industry.
Although we have a handful of institutes offering agribusiness management courses, there are none which are exclusively ‘agribusiness management’ schools. Also, the principles and concept of a very promising field like agribusiness management is virtually absent from most of the undergraduate curricula. Close to none efforts have been directed to include this aspect in the UG classes. Moreover, the business management institutes have been found to be modest in promoting research.
Agriculture’s transformation into agribusiness has opened up several possibilities as far as an agri graduate is concerned. With their current level of education and exposure, they are naïve for the complex demands of agribusiness ventures. But they are the best candidates to pursue higher education in agribusiness management as they are aware of the nuances of the volatile nature of agriculture. So the need of the hour is better and more institutes which could mould their infrastructure and faculty to the needs and demands of agriculture and the students.