As an agrarian country and livestock product-based enterprises being one of the major businesses in both rural and urban areas of Nepal, the number of veterinary graduates is disappointing.
There are currently three institutes that offer veterinary science courses – Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS) in Rampur, Chitwan (TU); Himalayan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (HICAST) under Purbanchal University in Kalanki and the newly established Nepal Polytechnic Institute in Bharatpur, Chitwan.
The Bachelor course is a five-year program comprising ten semesters – nine semesters of course and a six -month internship.
Serene Amatya, 21, student of Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry (BVSc and AH) at HICAST, feels that people, especially in the urban areas, limit veterinary science to pet treatments and many do not know that it is a multi-disciplinary subject.
Another student from HICAST, Rahul Shrestha, 22, took up this course to continue his family business. “My grandfather was a veterinary compounder who started Nepal Veterinary Distributors in Tangal. My father is also involved in this business and I also want to do the same,” he says.
According to Serene and Rahul, the course includes Anatomy, Biochemistry, Nutrition, Meat Technology, Grassland Management, Dairy and Sausage Production and extended subjects like Sociology and Law.
“It’s a vast course from studying bone structures to comparative anatomical study of equine, canine, poultry, avian, bovine and swine,” says Serene, adding, “We have technical aspects to study and fieldwork that is required to extend information from research centers to practitioners (farmers).”
“Veterinary science primarily focuses on techniques to handle animals before moving to diagnosis or treatment,” says Dr Jeevan Lal Amatya who completed his postgraduate degree on Nutrition from Anddra Pradesh, India. Amatya worked for the Government of Nepal for six months before working for an Indian pharmaceutical company for five years.
He started a hatchery in Thankot in 1986, a feed mill in Chitwan in 1980 and a veterinary pharmaceutical company in 1992. Dr Amatya’s career, which has spanned over 30 years, is a sufficient example of the prospect of this branch of science.
“Livestock production alongside agriculture greatly contributes to Nepal’s GDP and we have a big poultry sector with approximately one million poultry being produced in one week and 500,000 birds a day in Kathmandu alone. This scale of great livestock and poultry production needs veterinarians to meet increasing food demands (especially protein sources – milk, meat, egg) without compromising on the food quality,” said Dr Amatya, adding, “The cattle population in Nepal is three times more than that of the human population but 600,000 goats are still imported every year from India. There are scopes for fisheries and livestock production here in Nepal which significantly involves veterinarians.”
There are around 60,000 pets in the Kathmandu Valley alone and the ratio of veterinary doctors, most of whom are involved in private practice, to animal patients is 1:2,000.
Despite such potential and prospects in this field, the number of veterinary graduates is limited. The three institutes have 30 seats each and while approximately 90 veterinarians graduate each year, according to Dr Amatya, and around 30 retire. Another major problem, prominent in this field, is brain drain. There are around 700 practicing veterinarians in Nepal while over 200 are abroad and 100 have retired, according to the data of Nepal Veterinary Association.
Dr Rebanta Kumar Bhattarai, Assistant Professor at the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Parasitology at IAAS, Rampur, says the scope of veterinary science is great in the pocket areas of agriculture and animal husbandry and also in private businesses involving livestock and wildlife. He cites the lack of manpower as the biggest problem at this point of time, “Even countries with smaller area have ten to eleven thousand veterinarians while Nepal is losing its few to foreign soil,” he added.
Sikesh Manandhar, 23, who is currently studying in the eighth semester at IAAS, says, “The course itself is wide and includes everything there is to know about animals. One of the most interesting things for me is the fact that this course requires me to study Economics.” Sikesh feels that as a student of veterinary field, it is frustrating to see that people do not value lives of animals as much as they do of human lives.
Despite these problems, veterinary science is slowly exploring its prospects, not just here in Nepal but internationally as well – with many veterinarians teaching and working abroad
Source: Republica National Daily, Published in March 26, 2013