The science of managing plantations

By TheHindu on 11 Apr 2017

The IIPM imparts quality education and interacts closely with the industry

The Indian Institute of Plantation Management is emerging as a world class management school in plantation and associated agri-business in the area of education, research, consultancy, training and development, based on a new model of intensive institute-sectoral industry interaction.The IIPM, the first of its kind in the country, responds to the challenges in the fields of coffee, tea, rubber and spices cultivation within the management perspective. The post-graduate diploma in agri-business and plantation management programme is unique in nature as compared with the regular MBA programme. This helps students attain higher knowledge from production, process, value addition, distributional network, marketing, finance, HR, general management, production and operations, commodity futures, quantitative techniques, legal aspects and consumer requirements in the sector. The Institute's strategic approach is to integrate the development activities from the grassroot to the corporate management in a holistic perspective, according to its Director, V.G. Dhanakumar. The 15-month accelerated post-graduate diploma in agri-business and plantation management is the flagship programme to meet the requirements of the people engaged in commodity-related activities.

New techniques

Short-term executive programmes (STEP) are designed to provide new techniques for effective handling of managerial and operational issues. IIPM provides consultancy in policy, strategic and operational issues, and conducts workshops/ seminars on themes concerning the sector. Research to field test concepts are developed at the institute and exchange of scholars in collaboration with leading institutions and facilities for post-doctoral work are arranged. Prof. Dhanakumar said that the uniqueness of the courses is the integration of four components — classroom training, field work segment (FWS), the 11-week corporate training (CTS) and special focus area (SFA) — designed to progressively contribute to the breadth and depth of the students' knowledge. The Union Ministry of Commerce set up the IIPM in 1993. It is jointly sponsored by the commodity boards in coffee, tea, rubber and spices and plantation associations such as the United Planters Association of Southern India and the Indian Tea Association. Unlike the other professional institutions, the IIPM is self-sustaining and runs the show out of its own resources such as the fees collected from the students and by training managers, supervisors and field staff of various boards and industry houses. It charges Rs.1.5 lakh for a student for the 15- month diploma programme and in all earns Rs.85 lakhs every year. Prof. Dhanakumar said that the Board has decided to reduce the intake from the present 63 students to around 55 with a view to further improve the quality of education and training. Prof. Dhanakumar said that the IIPM has evolved a reach-out-model to impart on-site education. It facilitates closer interaction between the institute and industry, reducing the theory-practice gap. At the IIPM library, students have access to more than 140 national and international journals and over 8,000 books on a wide gamut of subjects.

Study tour

For the first time since its inception, the Institute is sending a group of 20 diploma students of the fifth batch to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand for a study-cum-seminar programme in the third week of January next year.The admission of students indicates IIPM's true national character. Till now 318 students have enrolled representing all the States including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu, Tripura and Uttaranchal for the diploma course. The current batch of students includes 16 per cent from the west, 22 per cent from the north, 25 per cent east and 37 per cent from the south, comprising many backward regions. Candidates with a degree even in arts, commerce or engineering apart from agriculture and sciences, with marks above 50 per cent, can apply. But they are selected on the basis of rigorous tests and interviews. They should undertake a computer-based objective test conducted by MANAGE, Hyderabad. Selection is on the basis of MAT/XAT/CBOT scores, group discussion and past academic record. Reservation for SCs/STs, physically challenged and disabled candidates in admission is applicable.

Faculty profile

IIPM has a team of around 10 faculty members. Academicians drawn from other institutes pitch in. Special talk series are held by professors from Australia and Canada and from renowned universities and institutions. They deal with the current burning problems such as supply chains, commodity trading, cost, labour productivity, quality, human resources as well as strategic issues like international competitiveness in export markets, WTO and international trade, organic products, future trading, risk management, retailing, new marketing channels, strategic leadership and corporate ethics.The Director said that the Institute is also launching a distance learning programme in the north-east and West Bengal from the next academic year. Starting an executive education centre for the region is in the pipeline, funded by the commodity boards. The Institute Board has given its in-principle approval to the proposal and a final nod is likely some time later.The Institute provides placement advisory and assistance through its placement cell. Its graduates are placed in more than 100 companies such as Biocon, HLL, Tata Tea, Birla Plantations, Philips, Goodricke and Williamson Magor. A package of Rs.7.5 lakh per annum has been recorded in the placement unit.Prof. Dhanakumar said Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan have started growing seeds spices like fenugreek. Orissa is taking active interest in coffee and rubber and the Uttaranchal Government has launched its own Tea Board to grow tea on its fertile fields. More and more farmers and plantation companies are interested in moving over to the south for growing tea and rubber, apart from the traditional plantation crops.

North-east initiative

Prof. Dhanakumar is happy that the Institute has been entrusted with the responsibility of helping people in the north-east to take up planting rubber saplings and thereby weaning them away from the anti-national elements in the region. It has succeeded to a great extent too. Some persons have even earned as much as Rs.2.5 lakh per annum in this vocation. The Institute has come out with results of a research on the toxic contents in a variety of a red chilli from Andhra Pradesh which leads to diseases among the gullible, poor consumers. T.S. RANGANNA