INDIA: New Salesian Agriculture School Opens Providing Education in Advanced Farming Techniques
(MissionNewswire) The Don Bosco Agro-Educational Complex, located in the town of Sulcorna in the state of Goa in western India, has developed the area’s first agriculture college. The college began its first term July 1 and will offer a bachelor of science in agriculture degree. The program is recognized by the Indian Council of Agriculture and Research in New Delhi and its syllabus will follow the National Indian Council of Agriculture Research. Considered a grant-in-aid college, it will reserve 50 percent of enrollment for students from within the state of Goa and 40 percent for students from other Indian states.
The Don Bosco Agro-Educational Complex sits on 810 acres of farmland that was donated to Salesian missionaries in the 1960s. The complex houses a primary school and boarding houses for children whose parents are local farm workers. The new college will utilize 110 acres of the fertile land for hands-on farm training and emphasize organic cultivation in its four-year degree program.
The mission of the college is to train undergraduates and postgraduates in the latest agricultural practices and modern technologies while moving towards efficiency in farming within Goa by exploring and testing new techniques in agriculture, horticulture, floriculture and animal husbandry. Salesian missionaries in the area are working towards marketing agricultural products and services to local farmers by utilizing the college and its staff as a resource for everything related to farming and off-farm activities. They are also working with local women’s groups helping them to plant specific crops that have greater viability in the marketplace.
Salesian missionaries hope the agriculture degree program will entice more local youth to choose agriculture as their long-term livelihood. With a long history of providing agricultural education, missionaries currently operate more than 90 agriculture schools around the world.
“Investing in agriculture education in developing countries is vital to a community’s livelihood and essential not only to overcome hunger and poverty, but also to ensure overall economic growth for surrounding cities and villages,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian-run agricultural schools offer more than just agriculture training – they are often part of a larger program that also offers literacy education and other vocational training in addition to feeding programs for hungry children.”
With more than 1.2 billion people, India has the second largest population in the world and the fourth largest agricultural sector and is home to a third of the world’s poor, according to UNICEF. More than 400 million Indians live on less than a dollar a day and 212 million are undernourished. According to the United Nations Development Program’s human development index, India ranks near the bottom at 136 out of 186 countries.
Close to 217 million of India’s poor are children. Although more than 53 million people escaped poverty between 2005 and 2010, most remain vulnerable to falling back below the poverty line. India’s youth face a lack of educational opportunities due to issues of caste, class and gender. Almost 44 percent of the workforce is illiterate and less than 10 percent of the working-age population has completed a secondary education. In addition, too many secondary school graduates do not have the knowledge and skills to compete in today’s changing job market.
According to the International Labour Organization’s Global Employment Trends 2014 report, the unemployment rate in India has been gradually increasing since 2011 when the rate was at 3.5 percent. The rate rose to 3.6 percent in 2012 and again climbed in 2013 to 3.7 percent. The unemployment rate continued to grow throughout 2014. Salesian missionaries are hoping this new agriculture program will help provide a long-term employment option for its students as well as another revenue source for the local community.
International Labour Organization – Global Employment Trends 2014 Report
UNICEF – India