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First Catholic College of Agriculture in India Opened

By Louis Kumpiluvelil SDB
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Chennai, Oct. 24. Don Bosco College of Agriculture, the first Catholic College of Agriculture in India, was inaugurated by the Salesian Provincial Fr. Jayapalan Raphael SDB at Sagayathottam, near Chennai, on 24 October, in the presence of Bishop P. Soundararaju of Vellore and a large gathering of priests, religious, well-wishers and students.
Agricultural activities on this sprawling 250-acre verdant campus started over six decades ago when a small agricultural school was set up there by the Salesians for training rural youth in the basics of agriculture. Later it became an institute of agriculture offering two-year diplomas in agriculture. The present College, affiliated to the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), currently rated as the best Agricultural University in the country by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), will offer undergraduate courses (B.Sc.) in Agriculture and related fields. It received its first batch of sixty students on 8th September. A happy coincidence is that the Dean of the College, a government appointee, is a Don Bosco alumnus, Dr. Christopher Lourduraj.
Delivering his inaugural address, Fr. Jayapalan described the college as a historic milestone in the annals of the Salesian Province of Chennai, which has always had as one of its main thrusts the skilling of poor rural youth to make them employable. Today, while India ranks second in the world for farm output, and our agriculture and allied fields account for 50 per cent of the total workforce in the country, the sad fact is that a large percentage of our agricultural workers are unskilled in modern techniques resulting in low productivity. Institutions for training students in agriculture and allied fields are far below the requirement. This is where, we hope, the Don Bosco College of Agriculture will make a difference, he said. He also thanked the Salesian community of Sagayathottam, especially Fr. Antonysamy Joakim, the Secretary of the College, Fr. Bosco Lourdusamy, Rector of St. Bede's, Fr. Xavier Pakiam, the Provincial Economer, and Fr. Johnson Antonysamy, Director of SURABI, for their efforts in realizing this dream.

The inaugural function began with a solemn Eucharistic celebration presided over by the Most Rev. Dr. P. Soundararaju, Bishop of Vellore, during which special prayers were offered for this institution and for all the young people who enter its portals.

The college motto ''Labor omnia vincit'', a Latin phrase meaning ''hard work overcomes everything'', is from a poem by the Roman poet Virgil (29 BC), who composed it to support and promote Augustus Caesar's  ''Back to the Land'' campaign designed to encourage Romans to take up agriculture.

The College is a humble tribute to Don Bosco to commemorate the bicentenary of his birth, 1815-2015.



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