The Agriculture paper consists of two papers, paper 1 and paper 2. The subject carries a total of 500 marks, with each paper allotted for 250 marks.
UPSC Agriculture Syllabus (PAPER – I)
Ecology and its relevance to man, natural resources, their sustainable management and conservation. Physical and social environment as factors of crop distribution and production. Agro ecology; cropping pattern as indicators of environments. Environmental pollution and associated hazards to crops, animals and humans. Climate change – International conventions and global initiatives. Green house effect and global warming. Advance tools for ecosystem analysis – Remote sensing (RS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
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, fibers, sugar, commercial and fodder crops.
Important features and scope of various types of forestry plantations such as social forestry, agro-forestry, and natural forests. Propagation of forest plants. Forest products. Agro forestry and value addition. Conservation of forest flora and fauna.
Weeds, their characteristics, dissemination and association with various crops; their multiplications; cultural, biological, and chemical control of weeds. Soil- physical, chemical and biological properties. Processes and factors of soil formation. Soils of India. Mineral and organic constituents of soils and their role in maintaining soil productivity. Essential plant nutrients and other beneficial elements in soils and plants.
Principles of soil fertility, soil testing and fertilizer recommendations, integrated nutrient management. Biofertilizers. Losses of nitrogen in soil, nitrogen-use efficiency in submerged rice soils, nitrogen fixation in soils. Efficient phosphorus and potassium use. Problem soils and their reclamation. Soil factors affecting greenhouse gas emission.
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.
Rainwater harvesting. 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.
Farm management, scope, importance and characteristics, farm planning. Optimum resource use and budgeting. Economics of different types of farming systems. Marketing management – strategies for development, market intelligence. Price fluctuations and their cost; role of co-operatives in agricultural economy; types and systems of farming and factors affecting them. Agricultural price policy. Crop Insurance.
Agricultural extension, its importance and role, methods of evaluation of extension programmes, socio-economic survey and status of big, small and marginal farmers and landless agricultural laborers. 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.
UPSC Agriculture Syllabus (PAPER – II)
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, euploids and aneuploids. 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.
History of plant breeding. Modes of reproduction, selfing and crossing techniques. Origin, evolution and domestication of crop plants, center of origin, law of homologous series, crop genetic resources 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. Somatic hybridization. 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.
Seed production and processing technologies. Seed certification, seed testing and storage. DNA finger printing 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.
Principles of Plant Physiology with reference to plant nutrition, absorption, translocation and metabolism of nutrients. Soil – water- plant relationship.
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 vernalilzation. Plant growth substances and their role in crop production. Physiology of seed development and germination; dormancy. Stress physiology – draught, salt and water stress.
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.
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.
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. Processing constraints.
Relation of food production to National Dietary Guidelines and food consumption pattern. Food based dietary approaches to eliminate hunger. Nutrient deficiency – Micro nutrient 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 scientific study of farming activities including soil management practices plus livestock rearing and other in detailed studies of farm essential research and techniques is collectively known as agriculture. Right from basic practices of the crop growing phase till yielding and then going further to marketing, agriculture is a vast subject. Also, the rearing of animals and obtaining their useful products also come under agriculture.
Preparation tips for Agriculture as a subject
The first and foremost thing when you ask about the main strategy for agriculture preparation to anybody who has attempted the paper is that it is a highly scoring subject. The syllabus isn’t too lengthy and can be completed well in time. The paper in the exam also is not too lengthy to fully complete and then to a very large extent you can easily expect some of the repeated questions and those that appear quite often and are popular with examiners.
The main catch with the subject is that people without background knowledge in biology will definitely find it a daunting task to take it up. The syllabus has interlinks with the subject of biology and unless a candidate is well versed with its intricate details, especially the standing concepts, it would be a tough task to move any further in agriculture. Even without knowledge in biology, the paper can be attempted. Conceptually, things will be much clearer only at the surface level and not deep into the subject understanding.
Some of the well known and suggestive books for reference are as under :
- Plant Breeding Principles and Methods- B.D. Singh
- Fundamentals of Genetics- B.D. Singh
- Plant Physiology- V.K. Jain
- Introductory Soil Science- D.K. Das
- Introduction to Horticulture- N Kumar
When agriculture is your subject at graduation level, the core knowledge is already familiar to you and you also have a way of keeping track of how to prepare and in what way to reach out to a certain topic. The thing that varies between your graduation study and that of your specialization in UPSC is that it is more comprehensive and detailed when it comes to UPSC. The more in-depth is your knowledge, the greater is your scores going to be.
If you’re planning for coaching then you must plan well in advance. Coaching classes for the subject are very few and not popular everywhere. So you must chalk out any coaching centre that should guide you through the subject and you should be able to manage the travel time for the centre and back and make good time for self study and preparation as well.
Presentation in the examination is of vital importance. If agriculture is your core area, you should really write lengthy and elaborate answers to fetch really high marks. In short, the quantity of facts and figures that you write in your answers will carry all the weight age in your answer. If you thought variable length of heavy theoretical content will alone suffice, then it’s necessary to get out of that thinking.
Relevant information, their presentation in the correct manner, relevant factual data, supportive diagrams, flowcharts etc are the necessary equipments in your answer.
Break down the syllabus into workable modules. Many parts of agriculture also share a similarity with geography syllabus. So at such overlapping areas, you can prepare for both general studies as well as your optional subject. Before beginning preparation on the subject, it’s very essential that you download and maintain as a ready reckoner, all the previous year question papers, as much as possible.
Try to find answer keys to every question that you come across. It may not be easy to find answer keys to all questions but would be very helpful if you did so. Solving questions will make sure that you know what to study and will give you confidence that you’re moving in the right direction.
Familiarize yourself with the pattern and try to list down and sort out all topics of study. Categorize them as mostly frequently asked, less frequently asked and rarely asked. Also write down very important and must-study topics which you should cover at the beginning itself. Since agriculture is a subject that is categorized and not too much of interrelations between every topic, you can certainly move in-between study topics.
Apart from the main books for study, referring to essential parts of few reference materials is also quintessential to cover agriculture extensively. Some of the books you must not miss are:
- Agronomy By Yellamananda Reddy
- Plant Breeding By B.D. Singh Genetics By B.D. Singh
- Handbook Of Agriculture By ICAR
- Agricultural Economics and Farm Management Agricultural Extension Education in India
The next step after you have finished a major chunk in your preparation process is to understand the latest developments of agriculture with respect to technology. Technology has made our lives simpler and much more advanced. The farming methods that were followed a decade ago would no longer be in use as on today or would certainly score out to be out-of-context with respect to the farmers.
So you have to keep yourself updated about latest trends in technology and learn how they have been used for your area of study and present them in your paper.
Suppose a book is giving you information that may be relevant probably when the book was written, but may no longer be in use as on today. So, when you begin preparation on any agricultural topic, seek help from the internet and see what’s the latest development and if it’s significantly progressive in nature. If there has been tremendous development, then include those points in your answer without fail.
Good strategy, practise,thinking out-of the box, learning techniques and keeping yourself updated with hands on data is the best way out for this optional. Understand the concepts instead of memorizing them. Try to list down the properties of certain important topics of your study. Prepare crisp, clear and helpful notes to help you though, including revision.