NEW DELHI: Government on Friday supported a proposal to introduce agriculture as a subject right from the school level and in science colleges to encourage its promotion among students. 

"I agree that agriculture should be taught at the school level and in science colleges and have already had a discussion with the HRD Minister in the regard. However, as agriculture is a state subject, our role is limited in this regard and the states have to decide on this," Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Kumar Balyan said in Rajya Sabha in reply to a question. 

Agricultural education, at present, was confined to 73 agriculture universities and Krishi Vigyan Kendra, though the Centre has taken several measures to retain and attract youths towards agricultural education, the Minister said. 

BJD's Baishnab Parida had proposed in the House the introduction of agriculture as a subject in the school level and in science colleges. He was supported some members from other parties. 

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research has initiated a 'Student Ready' programme, providing rural entrepreneurship awareness, practical experience in real life situations in rural agriculture and creating awareness among undergraduate students for pursuing better career in agriculture farming, Balyan said. 

Besides, a scheme of attracting and retaining youth in agriculture has been sanctioned for the 12th Plan Period at a cost of Rs 100 crore, covering 400 rural youths in each of the identified districts in the country. A total of 1000 youths will be covered, he said. 

Replying to another question, he assured that the government was committed to launching a centrally sponsored scheme of 'Promotion of National Agriculture Market' at a cost of Rs 200 crore. 

It will be an e-marketing platform that is deployable in markets across the country, connecting the mandis across the country. Each of the mandis has been allocated Rs 30 lakh, Balyan said. 

He referred to Karnataka, in particular, saying 52 mandis there have already been connected to the initiative.