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How to Prepare Agriculture Paper - UPSC Civil Services 2018
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How to Prepare Agriculture Paper – UPSC Civil Services 2019

Today we are providing UPSC Civil Services Agriculture Paper preparation tips. Now we will teach you “How to Prepare UPSC Civil Services Agriculture Paper 2019”. This post is aimed to help you in forming your strategy for Agriculture optional for Civil Services and Forest Services Exam, considering its various aspects.

Who should opt for Agriculture?

Anyone who has academic background in Agriculture, Life Sciences, Botany, Biomedical Sciences, Biotechnology, Zoology, Dairy and other related fields.

Any aspirant with no prior knowledge of Biology should not opt it. She may score good in Paper I which is like general studies but Paper II becomes the eliminating factor if it is not covered exhaustively.

Why should one not opt for ‘Botany’ instead?

If you have Botany as your graduation or master’s subject then surely you should go with botany, but just in case if you don’t have interest in remembering all families characteristic features among others, then Agriculture is best optional for you.

Secondly, Paper II of Botany and Agriculture is quite similar if you see the syllabus but if you analyse last year question papers, if you will see that questions in Agriculture are easy in comparison to ‘Botany Paper II’.

Step 1 : Know the Syllabus

you should know about the Civil Services Agriculture Paper Syllabus.


Read : UPSC Civil Services Agriculture Syllabus 2019

Step 2 : Select the Best Reference Books for Agriculture

Recommended books for Agriculture:

  • 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
  • Economics of Farm Production and Management- Raju and Rao
  • Principles of Agronomy-T.Y. Reddy and G.H.S. Reddi
  • Plant pathology- P.D. Sharma
  • Introduction to Horticulture- N Kumar

Step 3 : Prepare Important Topics

Agriculture Paper I Important Topics

Paper I basically focuses on farm practices and basic foundation of agriculture. Topics should be prepared in adequate length. Expression should be simple, application oriented and should consist of flowcharts as and when it’s required. Farm practices must correspond to the Indian situation.

Students should ensure that they should focus on sustainability and economic dimensions of any method. Some examples must correspond to recently debated issues in different areas. Agricultural marketing, pricing etc must have latest data taken from Government of India reports such as economic survey and ministry of agriculture’s annual report.

Agriculture Paper II Important Topics

Students who have opted for agriculture with botany need not prepare cell biology, genetics, biotechnology, plant breed, plant biochemistry and physiology separately. These topics are already covered in botany. There should be emphasis on agricultural application as well. Ideal books would be Plant Breeding by B D Singh and Plant Physiology by Jain.

Horticulture and Plant Pathology and Food Production only need to be covered separately. Students should always focus on India-specific examples and commercial aspect while writing about agriculture and any plant disease. For example, mention the loss in many terms due to a particular crop disease. Overlap with GS will be in areas like ecology and environment, food security, crop productivity, agricultural economics and sustainable agriculture.

Step 4 : Prepare Previous Question papers

Download UPSC Mains Agriculture Question Papers

Can I change my optional from Botany to Agriculture?

Yes, surely you can switch if you are struggling with Botany. In fact, you will be having an edge against Agriculture fresher aspirant as your Paper II of Agriculture is already completed (almost) if you have covered Botany syllabus exhaustively.

Is it scoring?

Of course it is. If you have similar background as mentioned above, you must go for it.

There is a myth that Agriculture is more scoring than Botany. Please don’t keep this in mind while preparing. Both are science subjects so if you know your concepts you can score equally in both.

Both subjects has equal percentage of topics that aspirant has to mug up (literally). Think of families (Cryptogams, Phanerogams) in Botany, and Horticulture and Pathology (Diseases and Measures) in Agriculture.

Agriculture got popular among Botany/ life sciences students after CSE 2013 in which Botany Paper was bit difficult and Agriculture was very easy. But in CSE 2015, both of these optionals were on equal footing. So, please do not hold opinions of one optional being easier than other, any optional demands right strategy and interest to excel.

How much time it takes to prepare?

4-5 months, if you study Agriculture 12-15 hours per week. This should be enough. Also, it depends on how much can you recall your graduation concepts.

Plant Breeding is the most conceptual, time taking and scoring part of the syllabus, while horticulture and pathology needs your notes making and revising skill to retain the topic.

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