Fallow grounds: pursuing a future in forestry and agricultureAlthough, the government is promoting technical education heavily, it will take time for students to understand the importance as well the sheer prospects in obtaining an agriculture and forestry degree in the coming future.
Although, the government is promoting technical education heavily, it will take time for students to understand the importance as well the sheer prospects in obtaining an agriculture and forestry degree in the coming future. This subject has immense scope. Agriculture is one of the main source of income for us Nepalis,” said Dilli Upreti, the registrar at Tribhuvan University. Currently, the University’s students are affiliated with two separate agriculture and forestry programmes. The enrolment in these programmes has been steadily increasing every year—a trend that seems to only be gaining momentum. “One cannot expect things to change overnight and progress in such an important aspect of life like this will be slow,” Upreti says.
So what impels today’s youth to pursue a degree in this important but neglected field? Bipana Sunuwar, a third year BBA student says that as a child, she had always been interested in agriculture. Even though her parents would have preferred for her to become a medical doctor, engineers or businesswoman, she stuck to her initial convictions. As time passed, she was even able to persuade her parents that there was a real future and an immense scope in her field of interest. “It was a sad situation when I was rejected a couple of times for undergrad enrolment. Initially, I cursed myself for not being an excellent student, but over time I realised that it is also a problem with the government and institutes here who simply cannot provide enough places or offer the necessary infrastructure for the students,” she said.
It is obvious that the reason for the limited seats stems from the lack of proper infrastructure and faculty and this fact has severely undermined these fields. However, finally growing aware of the sheer potential and profit in cultivating a strong forestry and agriculture sector in this country, the government has started to take some measures. Recently nine colleges got their licenses revoked to ensure that standards are maintained with regards to the curricula and facilities. With that said, there remains a great need for home grown professionals in forestry and agriculture that cannot be met by current standards and facilities and new initiative are imperative if things are to change. “As much as students would want to pursue such technical education, they are bound to switch to another stream because of lack of seats provided by such schools,” opined Nabin Sharma, an agriculturist.
The first Nepali University dedicated to agriculture and forestry was established back in 2010 in Rampur which also has the distinction of being the first technical university run by the government. The university follows a three pronged approach to learning—namely though classroom education, field research as well as advisory services, conventions and debates where both faculty and students are welcome. Every year, this University gets 5,000 applicants for agriculture, forestry and veterinary sciences of which only about 500 are accepted—this situation might have been fine if it were not for the fact that Nepal severely needs more technocrats plying these fields and yet lacks sufficient resources to deliver this. A greater awareness that eventually takes shape as a Nationally driven initiative might just be able to rectify this problem but without a dedicated government to facilitate this, such projects can never fully take off. For now, this subject and situation remain fallow and it remains to be seen what will grow out of it.