Why Bihar’s agricultural engineers have 0.001% chance of landing government jobs

Thousands of BTech Agriculture Engineering students ineligible for Bihar government jobs they trained for. BSc Agriculture is favoured, they allege.

Candidates standing outside a BPSC examination center in Patna after their written examination for 1,051 agriculture jobs. (Image: Special Arrangement)Candidates standing outside a BPSC examination center in Patna after their written examination for 1,051 agriculture jobs. (Image: Special Arrangement)

Sanjay | April 13, 2024 | 09:51 AM IST

NEW DELHI: Abhishek Kumar sat for Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC)’s written examination for the post of assistant director (agriculture engineering) in March. He earned his BTech in agriculture engineering from Dr Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University (RPCAU), Samastipur, in 2023. Considering that he has just “0.001% of chance” of securing one of the 19 posts of assistant director (agriculture engineering), he has been applying for government jobs in fields other than agriculture.

“Bihar government has advertised 19 posts of assistant director (agriculture engineering) after 10 years. Over 4,000 students have written the exam for these 19 posts and selected candidates will also have to face an interview. I also sat for the written examination and gave my best but the chances of my selection is 0.001%,” Kumar told Careers360. “Everyone wants to get jobs in their own field but due to delay, eligibility criteria issues and limited posts, I am preparing for other government jobs. My batch will be over-age by the time the next vacancy comes up.”

The recruitment drive being conducted by BPSC on behalf of the Bihar agriculture department is for 1,051 posts, including 19 agriculture engineer ones. As many as 866 Block Agriculture Officer (BAO) posts and 155 posts of sub divisional agriculture officer in the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) or deputy project director (agronomy) are available for BSc Agriculture degree-holders only; BTech agricultural engineering graduates are ineligible.

But agriculture engineers claim they possess all the qualifications needed for the BAO and ATMA job profiles. They complained that they are ineligible for several other posts where BSc agriculture students are eligible.

Candidates and academics alleged that Bihar agriculture department officials favour BSc students as they possess the same degrees. Agriculture department officials did not respond to calls or emails. If they do, this story will be updated.

Agricultural engineers worry about careers

In the absence of jobs, students are facing pressure from their families to take up private work; many worry about their careers.

“My family tells me to burn my degrees as they are of no use. They ask me why I pursued agriculture engineering when I cannot get a job despite studying at a top institute. The family just sees that the agriculture department has advertised jobs but they do not understand the eligibility criteria and blame me for not securing a job,” said Rauminsh Sharma, an RPCAU graduate with a BTech.

Students have also demanded the establishment of a directorate of agriculture engineering in line with central government directives for the appointment of agriculture engineers in the state.

Agriculture Officer Recruitment

On January 8, the Bihar agriculture department asked BPSC to organise a recruitment drive for the 1,051 agricultural officer posts. The written examination was held from March 1 to 4; the provisional answer keys followed on March 5. BPSC is yet to announce the results. Once it does, qualifying candidates will be called for interviews.

Agriculture officer vacancies





Sub Divisional Agriculture Officer (ATMA)/ Deputy Project Director (Agronomy)



BSc agriculture

Assistant Director (Plant Protection)



Bachelor’s degree in elective plant protection

Assistant Director (Agriculture Engineering)



BTech in agriculture engineering

Block Agriculture Officer (BAO)



BSc agriculture



Categorisation of agriculture jobs

In Bihar, agriculture department jobs fall into nine categories on the basis of the disciplines, duties and functions. These are listed below:

  • Category 1: Agronomy-related, only BSc agriculture eligible

  • Category 2: Agriculture engineers

  • Category-3: Jobs related to chemistry

  • Category 4: Non-functional

  • Category-5: Plant protection

  • Category 6: Non-functional

  • Category 7: Horticulture

  • Category 8: Jobs related to weights and measures

  • Category 9: Statistics

While this suggests strict division of labour on the basis of very specific skills and training, in practice, recruitment processes are lax. In consequence, BSc agriculture students get the widest range of options and posts of all graduates. “Even though there is a directorate of horticulture, the agriculture department allows BSc agriculture students to apply for block horticulture officer posts. This is unfair to horticulture students,” said a professor from Bihar Agricultural University (BAU), Sabour, on conditions of anonymity.

Also read ‘Degree of no use’: Why Maharashtra’s BTech Agriculture Engineering students oppose MPSC syllabus change

Mohammed Bilal (name changed) earned a BTech in agriculture engineering from RPCAU, an MTech in agriculture system and a management degree from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur.

He is forced to work as a contractual worker in the Bihar government. “Placing agronomy jobs for BSc agriculture students in category 1 and agriculture engineering in category 2 shows the mindset of Bihar agriculture officials. They always think of us as inferior and bar us from applying for jobs which we are capable of doing effectively.”

BTech agriculture jobs

RPCAU, Samastipur – also known as Pusa Bihar – and Bihar Agricultural University’s College of Agriculture Engineering, Ara, are two government institutions in Bihar offering Btech in agriculture. Even though hundreds of students graduate from these colleges, they remain jobless.

“Most Bihar agriculture department officials have BSc agriculture degrees. They deny posts to agriculture engineers by saying that they are fit for technical jobs like soil conservation, dam management, irrigation system etc. They do not allow agriculture engineers to apply for Block Agriculture Officer (BAO) posts saying that engineering students do not study disease and pest management of crops unlike BSc agriculture students,” said a BAU Sabour professor.

Bilal pointed out that the BAO is an administrative post requiring its holder to implement schemes related to modern technology, machines and soil conservation. “These schemes can be implemented effectively if they allow agriculture engineers to apply. Agriculture is a broad sector. But it hurts us that we care for agriculture and farming of our state and study in top institutes but are not given priority in jobs,” he said.

SN Jha, deputy director general (agricultural engineering), Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), said engineers are better equipped with mechanisation, post-harvest, soil conservation and micro-irrigation technologies-related skills compared to any other graduates.

“Agriculture engineers can implement technology and train farmers on machines in a better way to solve current farming problems, reduce input cost and enhance profitability at faster speed. Agriculture engineers can implement all schemes related to farming but BSc agriculture students may not implement agricultural engineering schemes so effectively,” he said.

In neighbouring Jharkhand, for instance, agriculture engineers were eligible for all the agriculture posts, including BAO, in the recruitment drives in 2022 and 2023.

Careers affected

In absence of enough opportunities, Bilal is compelled to work under those with far lower qualifications.

“It hurts me that even being meritorious and having a Btech degree from Pusa Samastipur and MTech from IIT Kharagpur, I am working under those who are just simple graduates. We are eligible for contractual jobs, but not a good post. We are not given a proper platform to showcase our talent and help farmers,” said Bilal.

Manish Kumar graduated from RPCAU with a BTech in 2023 said: “I wanted to do MTech and had been preparing for the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) exam but I have given up my dreams. I am confused about my future. My family is also forcing me to apply for private jobs.”

Aditya Kumar earned his BTech in 2023 from Pusa. “BTech agriculture degree-holders are not preferred in jobs which require their expertise. Jobs in the water resources department are given to BSc horticulture and BSc agriculture graduates. We have proper knowledge of the irrigation system and how to fetch water from dams to the fields, but we are not given jobs in this department. After doing BTech, I am unemployed. I cannot take money from my parents even though I am facing financial problems,” he said.

Also read Five Bihar Agricultural University students get job offers from IDBI Bank

ICAR senior official Jha advised students to look for jobs in other states and central government too. “Agriculture engineers have a bright future as they learn a combination of all basic engineering in addition to agriculture and food processing. We are an agriculture-based society and agriculture engineers help farmers improve their crop yields and also work in food processing units,” he said.

Directorate of agriculture engineering

In July 2023, the parliamentary standing committee on agriculture, animal husbandry, and food processing had recommended the establishment of a directorate of agricultural engineering in each state. “There is no engineering manpower to demonstrate, train, help in repair or maintenance and guide farmers at their doorstep. There is an urgent need of agricultural engineers at block and district level in each state,” the committee wrote.

In August, former agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar wrote to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar pushing for the establishment of a directorate of agricultural engineering and recruitment of agriculture engineers at block and district level.

“Nearly 90% of agriculture-related schemes of state and central government can be implemented by agriculture engineers,” Jha said.

“Bihar government officials mostly filled with agriculture graduates are either not interested or they are [too] ignorant to comply with central government directives as they probably fear agricultural engineers will take their positions,” he continued, “There must be a directorate of agriculture engineers for the appointment of agriculture engineers at each district, panchayat and block level. Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh have been doing this for a long time and Chhattisgarh has just started.”

Also read IARI New Delhi developing diploma, online agriculture courses: Dean

Jha had himself written to Bihar’s department but “did not receive any response” from them.

“Bihar has a migration problem and most of the labourers move to other states for work. Agriculture engineers can help the state government in setting up agro-based industries to generate jobs,” he said.

In February 2023, Bihar agriculture department notified new rules for recruitment of agriculture coordinators. Agriculture engineers were eligible for this position since 2014 but the new rules made them ineligible. Only BSc agriculture graduates are eligible for the post now.

Note: This story will be published in the forthcoming issue of the Careers360 magazine.

Correction: There are nine, not eight, categories of agriculture jobs in Bihar. The copy originally said eight and has now been corrected. The error is regretted.

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