Is Agriculture a good optional?
UPSC CSE Mains has a total of 9 descriptive papers out of which 2 are optional papers which carry 250 marks each. Agriculture is one of the optional provided by the board. Many of you might wonder and are doubtful while choosing this subject merely because it has very little relevance with general studies paper,so is it worth choosing such a dicey optional? Will I be able to score decent marks? Will I be able to complete it’s syllabus on time? These might be some of the questions bothering many of you. Majorly the students who want to take this optional are science graduates with agricultural degrees. The answer to all your doubts regarding the subject is’ yes ‘ . It’s mere inclusion in the list of optional by the UPSC board is reason worthy enough for you to select it. However the dilemma lies in the bifurcation and understanding of the key concepts of the syllabus. This is where most of you lack smart work. So to clear all your doubts and to save your energy, a detailed syllabus for the same has been mentioned below. You must read , understand it clearly in order to formulate a time table.
Syllabus of agriculture
The Paper I of Agriculture Optional is completely based on the farm practices and the basic yet most important concepts of agriculture.
1.a) Ecology and its relevance to man:
natural resources, their sustainable management and conservation.
Physical and social environment as factors of crop distribution and production.
1.b) Agro ecology;
cropping pattern as indicators of environments.
Environmental pollution and associated hazards to crops, animals and humans.
1.c) Climate change:
International conventions and global initiatives.
Greenhouse effect and global warming.
1.d) Advance tools for ecosystem analysis :
Remote sensing (RS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
2.Cropping patterns in different agro-climatic zones of the country:
Impact of high yielding and short-duration varieties on shifts in cropping patterns.
Concepts of various cropping and farming systems.
Organic and Precision farming.
Package of practices for production of important cereals, pulses, oil seeds, fibres, sugar, commercial and fodder crops.
3.Important features and scope of various types of forestry:
plantations such as social forestry, agroforestry, and natural forests.
Propagation of forest plants.
Agro forestry and value addition.
Conservation of forest flora and fauna.
4.Soil conservation, integrated watershed management:
Soil erosion and its management.
Dry land agriculture and its problems.
Technology for stabilizing agriculture production in rain fed areas.
Water-use efficiency in relation to crop production, criteria for scheduling irrigations, ways and means of reducing runoff losses of irrigation water.
Drip and sprinkler irrigation.
Drainage of waterlogged soils, quality of irrigation water, effect of industrial effluents on soil and water pollution.
Irrigation projects in India.
scope, importance and characteristics,
Optimum resource use and budgeting.
Economics of different types of farming systems.
strategies for development,
Price fluctuations and their cost;
role of cooperatives in agricultural economy;
types and systems of farming and factors affecting them.
Agricultural price policy. Crop Insurance.
its importance and role,
methods of evaluation of extension programmes,
socio-economic survey and status of big, small and marginal farmers and landless agricultural labourers.
Training programmes for extension workers.
Role of Krishi Vigyan Kendra’s (KVK) in dissemination of Agricultural technologies.
Non Government Organization (NGO) and self-help group approach for rural development.
Optional Paper 2 syllabus
of Agriculture optional covers the technical aspects of the field such as Cell Theory, and so other related terms.
1.Cell structure, function and cell cycle:
Synthesis, structure and function of genetic material.
Laws of heredity.
Chromosome structure, chromosomal aberrations, linkage and cross-over, and their significance in recombination breeding.
Polyploidy, euploidy and aneuploidy.
Mutations – and their role in crop improvement.
Heritability, sterility and incompatibility, classification and their application in crop improvement. Cytoplasmic inheritance, sex-linked, sex-influenced and sex-limited characters.
2.History of plant breeding:
Modes of reproduction, selfing and crossing techniques.
Origin, evolution and domestication of crop plants, the center of origin, the law of homologous series, crop genetic resource conservation and utilization.
Application of principles of plant breeding, improvement of crop plants.
Molecular markers and their application in plant improvement.
Pure-line selection, pedigree, mass, and recurrent selections, combining ability, its significance in plant breeding.
Heterosis and its exploitation.
Breeding for disease and pest resistance.
Role of interspecific and intergeneric hybridization.
Role of genetic engineering and biotechnology in crop improvement.
Genetically modified crop plants.
3.Seed production and processing technologies:
Seed certification, seed testing and storage.
DNA fingerprinting and seed registration.
Role of public and private sectors in seed production and marketing.
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues, WTO issues and its impact on Agriculture.
4.Principles of Plant Physiology:
with reference to plant nutrition, absorption, translocation and metabolism of nutrients.
Soil – water- plant relationship.
5.Enzymes and plant pigments:
Photosynthesis- modern concepts and factors affecting the process, aerobic and anaerobic respiration; C3, C4 and CAM mechanisms.
Carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism.
Growth and development; photoperiodism and vernalization.
Plant growth substances and their role in crop production.
Physiology of seed development and germination; dormancy.
Stress physiology – draught, salt and water stress.
6.Major fruits, plantation crops, vegetables, spices and flower crops:
Package practices of major horticultural crops.
Protected cultivation and high tech horticulture.
Post harvest technology and value addition of fruits and vegetables.
Landscaping and commercial floriculture.
Medicinal and aromatic plants.
Role of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition.
7.Diagnosis of pests and diseases of field crops, vegetables, orchard and plantation crops and their economic importance.
Classification of pests and diseases and their management.
Integrated pest and disease management.
Storage pests and their management.
Biological control of pests and diseases.
Epidemiology and forecasting of major crop pests and diseases.
Plant quarantine measures.
Pesticides, their formulation and modes of action.
8.Food production and consumption trends in India.
Food security and growing population – vision 2020.
Reasons for grain surplus.
National and international food policies.
Production, procurement, distribution constraints.
Availability of food grains, per capita expenditure on food.
Trends in poverty, Public Distribution System and Below Poverty Line population, Targeted Public Distribution System (PDS), policy implementation in context to globalization.
Relation of food production to National Dietary Guidelines and food consumption pattern.
Food based dietary approaches to eliminate hunger.
Nutrient deficiency – Micronutrient deficiency : Protein Energy Malnutrition or Protein Calorie Malnutrition (PEM or PCM), Micro nutrient deficiency and HRD in context of work capacity of women and children.
Food grain productivity and food security.
The Booklist for the Agriculture optional is:
- Introductory Soil Science by D.K. Das
- Plant Breeding Principles and Methods by B.D. Singh
- Fundamentals of Genetics by B.D. Singh
- Plant Physiology by V.K. Jain
- Plant pathology by P.D. Sharma
- Special Issue of Agriculture by The Hindu
- The Hindu- Survey Of Indian Agriculture
- Handbook Of Agriculture By ICAR
However, be selective while studying and selecting the books as not all are or cover the syllabus as a whole so you must study them selectively and revise it thoroughly.