The quality of education of some agricultural universities in Maharashtra has been questioned by Indian Council of Agricultural Reasearch (ICAR) which has also put their accreditation on hold.
The ICAR’s National Agriculture Education Accreditation Board has put a hold on the accreditation of Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth in Rahuri, Pune; Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth in Akola in Vidarbha; Vasantrao Naik Marathwada Krishi Vidyapeeth in Parbhani; and Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth.
According to a ‘live mint’ report, the recorded proceedings of the Board meeting, put out on the ICAR website, cite ‘vacant faculty positions across agriculture colleges in the state and involvement of faculty in managing the academic affairs of private agriculture colleges’ as the factors for putting the accreditation on hold.
According to ICAR, these universities have large no of affiliated private colleges and the no is increasing every year. Also, these universities lack the basic amenities needed to run a university and this also includes lack of faculty members.
Dr Vilas Bhale, associate dean at the Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth, confirmed the ICAR decision.
In addition to that, the ICAR has also kept the window open for the universities so that accreditation can be reconsidered.
Each university gets about Rs.6 crore to Rs.7 crore every year from the ICAR if it is accredited.
Farm sector experts in Maharashtra, especially those representing farmers, have for long been critical of the agriculture universities for their ‘failure’ to address the state’s chronic farm crisis.
Dr Shrikant Kakde, Director of Maharashtra Council of Agriculture Education and Research, said the ICAR might have taken a dim view of the quality of research at Maharashtra agriculture universities because of the drop in the number of scientists.
A senior professor at the Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth, who did not wish to be named, said the political establishment in Maharashtra had “liberally” given consent to private agriculture colleges.
He said if a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is filed against private agriculture colleges most of the 156 colleges could be de-recognized for a number of violations.
Dr Kakde said the universities were limiting their association with the colleges.