Ever since man began cultivating crops and domesticating animals, he has been practicing agro-forestry as these activities took place along forest areas. Agro-forestry is the system of land use that combines growing and raising of crops and/or livestock along with plants that belong to the forest. The land can be used to raise agricultural crops and trees and to rear animals. Some examples are shifting cultivation, growing of tea and coffee under the shade of trees, inter-cropping under coconut trees, and home gardens. In fact, most farmers in India grow agricultural crops, rear animals, and plant certain trees on their land, often on the boundary area. Agro-forestry reduces the farmers’ dependency on forests even as it provides them economic benefits. It results in more diverse, healthy, and sustainable land-use systems. It focuses on meeting the economic, environmental, and domestic needs of people on their private lands. For hundreds of years, farmers have nurtured trees in their fields, pasturelands, and around their homes.
Agro-forestry is defined by some as a dynamic, ecologically – based natural farm management system that, along with agriculture and the integration of trees on farms, has many environmental benefits. Put simply, agro-forestry is using trees on farms. Trees can provide many products such as timber, fodder, fuel wood, medicines, and oils. It also helps to conserve soil, enhance soil fertility, and provide shelterbelts for crops and fruit trees.
Honey and beekeeping have a long history in India. Honey was the first sweet food tasted by the ancient Indian inhabiting in rock shelters and forests. India has some of the oldest records of beekeeping in the form of paintings by prehistoric man in the rock shelters. With the development of civilization, honey acquired a unique status in the lives of the ancient Indians. They regarded honey as a magical substance that controlled the fertility of women, cattle, as also their lands and crops. The recent past has witnessed a revival of the industry in the rich forest regions along the sub-Himalayan mountain ranges and the Western Ghats, where it has been practiced in its simplest form.
In India beekeeping has been mainly forest based. Several natural plant species provide nectar and pollen to honey bees. Thus, the raw material for production of honey is available free from nature. Bee hives neither demand additional land space nor do they compete with agriculture or animal husbandry for any input. The beekeeper needs only to spare a few hours in a week to look after his bee colonies. Beekeeping is therefore, ideally suited to them as a part-time occupation. Beekeeping constitutes a resource of sustainable income generation to the rural and tribal farmers. It provides them valuable nutrition in the form of honey, protein rich pollen and brood. Bee products also constitute important ingredients of folk and traditional medicine.
Vermicompost is an organic manure (bio-fertiliser) produced as the vermicast by earthworm feeding on biological waste material, plant residues etc. This compost is an odourless, clean, organic material containing adequate quantities of N P K and several micronutrients essential for plant growth. Vermicompost is a preferred nutrient source for organic farming. It is eco-friendly, non-toxic, consumes low energy input for composting and is a recycled biological product.
The organic wastes that are available in agricultural areas include cattle-dung, sheep-dropping, biogas slurry, stubble from harvested crops, husks and corn shells, weeds, kitchen waste etc. All these materials can be used to produce vermicompost.
Dairy industry is one of the industries, which plays a dynamic role in India’s agro-based economy. Dairy farming includes breeding and care of milk yielding cattle, procuring milk and processing of milk into a variety of dairy products. Dairy products are a major exporting industry and earn considerable foreign exchange for the country. In 1946, the foundation of Anand Milk Union Ltd (AMUL), led to the development of a better organised dairy industry and gave momentum to education in dairying in India.
Dairy industry, now a highly specialized field today involves production, procurement, storage, processing and distribution of dairy products. The main jobs are in production and processing. Production process includes the collection of milk, breeding of high yielding cattle and taking care of the animals. Dairy is a challenging career, which offers enormous prospects for trained professionals. There are now more than 400 dairy plants in the country and many dairy equipment manufacturers.
Openings for a dairy technologist are available in both the public and the private sector. They can find job in dairy farms, cooperatives, rural banks, milk product, processing and manufacturing industries. Quality control departments also recruit dairy technologists. A large number of dairy technologists can also start their own business such as small-scale milk plants, creamery, ice-cream units etc or work as consultants.
Floriculture or flower farming, as it is popularly called, is a discipline of Horticulture, and is the study of growing and marketing of flowers and foliage plants. Floriculture includes cultivation of flowering and ornamental plants for sale or for use as raw materials in cosmetic and perfume industry and in the pharmaceutical sector. The floral industry today has grown to a much larger proportion and offers a wide scope for growth and profits.
In India, Floriculture industry comprises flower trade, production of nursery plants and potted plants, seed and bulb production, micro-propagation and extraction of essential oils. Though the annual domestic demand for the flowers is growing at a rate of over 25% and international demand at around Rs 90,000 crore, India’s share in international market of flowers is negligible. India has a blooming future as far as floriculture is concerned. Enormous genetic diversity, varied agro-climatic conditions, versatile human resources etc, offer India a unique scope for judicious employment of existing resources and exploration of avenues yet untouched.
The employment opportunities in this field are as varied as the nature of work itself. One can join the field of floriculture as farm/estate managers, plantation experts and supervisors, project coordinators etc. Research and teaching are some other avenues of employment in the field. Marketing of floriculture products for different ventures is emerging as a potential segment of this field. Besides, one can work as a consultant, landscape architect etc with proper training. One can also work as entrepreneur and offer employment to others. In addition to these careers, which involve research and actual growing of crops, floriculture also provides service career opportunities, which include such jobs as floral designers, groundskeepers, landscape designers, architects and horticultural therapists. Such jobs require practitioners to deal directly with clients.
India is the world’s second largest producer of food next to China, and has the potential of being the biggest in the food and agricultural sector. The total food production in India is likely to double in the next ten years and there is an opportunity for large investments in food and food processing technologies, skills and equipment, especially in areas of Canning, Dairy and Food Processing, Specialty Processing, Packaging, Frozen Food/Refrigeration and Thermo Processing. Fruits & Vegetables, Fisheries, Milk & Milk Products, Meat & Poultry, Packaged/Convenience Foods, Alcoholic Beverages & Soft Drinks and Grains are important sub-sectors of the food processing industry. Health food and health food supplements are another rapidly rising segment of this industry, which is gaining vast popularity amongst the health conscious.
India’s food processing sector covers fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry, milk and milk products, alcoholic beverages, fisheries, plantation, grain processing and other consumer product groups like, confectionery, chocolates and cocoa products, soya-based products, mineral water, high protein foods etc. The most promising sub-sectors are Soft drink bottling, Confectionery manufacture, Fishing, Aquaculture, Grain-milling and grain-based products, Meat and poultry processing, Alcoholic beverages, Milk processing, Tomato paste, Fast food, Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, Food additives, flavors etc.
Goat is a multi-functional animal and plays a significant role in the livelihood and nutrition of landless, small and marginal farmers in the country. Goat rearing is an enterprise, which is being practiced by a large section of population in rural areas. Goats can survive on available shrubs and trees in adverse and harsh environment in low fertility lands where no other crops can be grown. In pastoral and agricultural subsistence societies in India, goats are kept as a source of additional income and as an insurance against disaster. Goats are also used in ceremonial feastings and for the payment of social dues. In addition to this, goat has religious and ritualistic importance in many societies.
Horticulture is the art and science of plant cultivation. Horticulture involves disciplines like plant propagation and cultivation, crop production, plant breeding and genetic engineering, plant biochemistry and plant physiology. The work particularly involves various fruits, berries, nuts, vegetables, flowers, trees, shrubs and turf. Horticulturists work to improve crop yield, quality, nutritional value,resistance to insects, diseases and environmental stresses. Horticulture is practised in many gardens and nurseries. Activities in nurseries range from preparing seeds and cuttings to growing fully mature plants. These are often sold or transferred to ornamental gardens.
Horticulturists can work in industry, government, educational institutions or private establishments. They can be cropping systems engineers, wholesale or retail business managers, propagators and tissue culture specialists (fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and turf), crop inspectors, crop production advisers, extension specialists, plant breeders and teachers / trainers.
Landscaping refers to any activity that modifies the visible features of an area of land, including but not limited to: (1) living elements, such as flora or fauna or what is commonly referred to as gardening, the art and craft of growing plants with a goal of creating a beautiful environment within the landscape, (2) natural elements such as landforms, terrain shape and elevation, or bodies of water, (3) human elements such as structures, buildings, fences or other material objects created and/or installed by humans, and (4) abstract elements such as the weather and lighting conditions.
Landscaping is both science and art, and requires good observation and design skills. A good landscaper understands the elements of nature and construction, and blends them accordingly. Landscape architecture involves the investigation and designed response to the landscape. The scope of the profession includes architectural design, site planning, environmental restoration, town or urban planning, urban design, parks and recreation planning.
It is a recognised fact that India presents a great investment and business opportunity in the herbal sector, with the prospects of the country emerging as a global leader in the field. It is also well known that Tamilnadu is a significant player in the herbal industry, with substantial production and market share.
In recent times, there has been an enlightened awareness among the citizens of the country about the natural advantages that this country is endowed with. This is particularly conspicuous in the area of the indigenous therapy or alternative medicine. A general view that such medicines could be taken recourse to, for better and safe therapeutic effect, has definitely been established. Main reasons for a shift “Back to Natural” is peoples’ concern over toxicity and side effects of modern drugs, realisation that natural medicines are safer, allopathic drugs are often ineffective against many chronic complaints, the medical fraternity has begun to acknowledge the value of some herbal medicines. Further, herbal medicines are generally less expensive than allopathic drugs.
Over the last few years, the Indian poultry farming industry has been growing steadily with an annual growth rate of 20%. The present worth of India’s poultry industry is more than Rs.70, 000 million. The industry is also a source of bread and butter for over 700,000 people. A number of factors have helped this industry to flourish. Significant among them are, growing demand for a low priced source of protein-rich nutrients provided by eggs and chickens, low maintenance cost and minimum space requirements, chickens adapt easily to almost any condition and profits are quite high. The whole concept of poultry farming during the last two decades or so has undergone a sea change. The poultry industry has now emerged as a highly structured and market-oriented enterprise.
For people with limited capital and willing to set up organised business ventures of their own, poultry farming can be considered a career choice. Typical work in a poultry farm involves various tasks related to management of the farm like, breeding and rearing of chicks, preventing, diagnosing and controlling disease, feed formulation and analysis, marketing etc.