Agriculture as an Optional Subject For UPSC

UPSC civil service aspirants can choose agriculture as their optional as syllabus of agriculture optional for UPSC optional is short. Many topics of agriculture are helpful in preparing for general studies paper. Agriculture is one of the most scoring subjects of the IAS main exam. Candidates from zoology, botany and agriculture and other related field can opt it as UPSC optional subject.  Most of the topics directly help in preparing for geography and economy. The topics from the syllabus can be prepared easily and can be easily managed with other subjects. For this preparation of Agriculture as an optional the aspirants need to prepare a proper schedule and study plan.

Following is some of the tips to prepare for Agriculture Optional Paper: -

  1. Understand the syllabus thoroughly
  2. Limit your sources for the preparation.
  3. Make a proper study plan.
  4. Prepare notes of all the topics so as to get clarity and clear understanding of topics.
  5. Analyse the previous year question papers.
  6. Practice through as many mock test series.

Paper I Syllabus:

  1. Ecology and its relevance to man, natural resources, their sustainable management and conservation. Physical and social environment as factors of crop distribution and production. Agroecology, cropping pattern as indicators of environments. Environmental pollution and associated hazards to crops, animals and humans. Climate change – international conventions and global initiatives. Greenhouse effect and global warming. 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, oilseeds, 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. Forest products. Agroforestry and value addition. Conservation of forest flora and fauna.
  4. 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 the 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.
  5. Soil conservation, integrated watershed management. Soil erosion and its management. Dryland agriculture and its problems. Technology for stabilizing agriculture production in rainfed 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.
  6. 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 cooperatives in agricultural economy; types and systems of farming and factors affecting them. Agricultural price policy. Crop Insurance.
  7. 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 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.

Paper II Syllabus:

  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, 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.
  2. 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.
  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. Carbohydrates, 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. Processing constraints. 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.

Recommended Booklist for Agriculture Optional: -

  1. Plant Breeding Principles and Methods- B.D. Singh
  2. Fundamentals of Genetics- B.D. Singh
  3. Plant Physiology- V.K. Jain
  4. Introductory Soil Science- D.K. Das
  5. Economics of Farm Production and Management- Raju and Rao
  6. Principles of Agronomy-T.Y. Reddy and G.H.S. Reddi
  7. Plant pathology- P.D. Sharma
  8. Introduction to Horticulture- N Kumar