A tale of two universities

January 28, 2020


Miguel Braganza

It is a cause of joy that the deputy chief minister and
minister of agriculture, Chandrakant Kavlekar has announced the Goa
Government’s desire to establish a university for organic agriculture in Goa.
How serious he is about it will be known from the budget proposals for 2020-21
in the upcoming session. If there is a budgetary provision of funds to set up
the university and a bill to enact the act necessary for establishing a
university on the lines of the Goa, Daman and Diu Goa University Act, 1985,
then we know that the government of Goa state is serious about what it has
stated publicly. When established, it will be the first organic agriculture
university in India.

The University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, is
the alma mater of many serving and retired agriculture officers and other
professionals in Goa. Recently, the alumni of my batch of 1982 were in Goa for
a reunion. They have been very supportive of establishing the first ‘college of
agriculture’ in Goa and it was my classmate, N Deva Kumar who assisted in the
documentation to be submitted to the Goa University for grant of affiliation.
He is also a member of the Goa University’s board of studies in agriculture
along with fellow alumnus and principal scientist at ICAR-CCARI, Old Goa, AR
Desai. My batch has four current deans of agriculture, including Deva Kumar,
who earlier headed the Research Institute of Organic Farming at GKVK,
Bangalore. Obviously, we also need to tap resources from other universities in
Maharashtra and Karnataka.

It took a full thirty years from 1985 to 2015 for the
government to approve the establishment of a college of agriculture in Goa.
There were several attempts to set up a college of agriculture in Pernem,
Quepem, Ponda and Tiswadi – but all attempts were made in vain. Finally, a
college was established in August 2015, marking the 80th birthday of Heman Y
Karapurkar and the 200th birthday of St John Bosco. The first batch of the
agriculture graduates are working to make their mark, handicapped by not having
a SAU accredited to ICAR under the Ministry of Agriculture. Their alma mater is
now affiliated to Goa University under the Ministry of Education. It makes a
difference even for recruitment in the Directorate of Agriculture in the Goa
administration. A Goa SAU will be a game changer.

Qualified faculty is important to operate an educational
institution. There is a need to coach and motivate the post graduates in Goa to
pass the National Eligibility Test or NET for teaching in a college. There are
just a handful of NET qualified MSc (agriculture) candidates in Goa and they
are not even enough for the only agriculture college in Goa. The fifteen years
domicile in Goa is important because a person who is to train the future
generation must know the cropping practices in Goa. There are more than thirty
persons in Goa with post graduation in agriculture and allied sciences. Some of
them are employed in the directorate of agriculture and can be incentivised to
answer and pass NET in their respective subjects and permitted to go on
deputation to the Goa SAU for a period of two to five years or loaned on
foreign service basis. There are rules in place that permit such sharing of
staff. And we need to think out of the box.

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