Sylhet Agricultural University: The Fount of Agrarian Insight

Published : 25 Nov 2023 08:35 PM

Sylhet Agricultural University (SAU) has ste­pped into eighteen years of pride. 

Situated in the northeastern corner of Bangladesh, in the plains and undulating terrain of Sylhet Division, the university was founded with the aim of disseminating agricultural education. Initially commencing with three faculties, it gradually expanded to seven. 

Through these faculties, the university fosters connections with the global community in various sectors of agricultural science, ensures conservation and harmony, facilitates higher education and national-level research opportunities, and conducts research endeavors.

The main campus of the university situated in the sprawling 50-acre expanse within the hillock-surrounded urban landscape of Sylhet city. Besides the academic buildings, administrative building, and residential quarters of the university, a central auditorium also stands tall here. North of the Tamabil Bypass Road, an additional 12.29 acres have been allocated for the university's second campus and research field. This university consist of 7 faculties, 47 departments, advanced research laboratories, and research centers alongside field research facilities. Furthermore, it houses a veterinary teaching hospital.

The Central Shaheed Minar of the university stands as an emblem of reverence to the language martyrs and valiant heroes of independence. The Shaheed Minar, acclaimed as one of the most aesthetic Shaheed Minars in Bangladesh, aptly named 'Suryaloke Barnamala' (Sunlight in Colors). Additionally, there are five male dormitories and two female dormitories on this campus.

The university also focus more on research activities with the support of various national and international organizations. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than a hundred research articles have been published in international Scopus indexed Journals. 

Researchers here are working tirelessly on integrated Farm management to improve livelihoods in the Haor region. Previously, a vast landscape in the region used to remain dry in the winter season, heavily affecting agriculture. Various initiatives by the Sylhet Agricultural University (SAU) in collaboration with farmers in different haor areas, including Sunamganj Haor, have been taken to enhance livelihoods. Extensive research is being conducted on pulse crops. It is hoped that two protein-rich varieties developed by BRRI, SAU Shim-1' and SAU Shim-2,' will meet the demand for protein throughout the year in the Sylhet region.

An automated agrometeorological station has been established to gather agricultural weather-related information in the Sylhet region. Professors and students at this university have showcased remarkable innovation and research in the field of agriculture. 

As a result, several professors and students from the university have received national and international awards.

Established in 2008, Sylhet Agricultural University Research System (SAURS) has successfully completed 522 research projects. Additionally, for the fiscal year 2023-2024, 187 research projects are ongoing. For collaborative research efforts, modern research facilities have been established at an expense of 110 million BDT across 41 departments.

To advance research activities, agreements have been signed with national and international institutions for the exchange of education, research, and information. Sylhet Agricultural University signed MoU with Germany's Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Japan's Kobe University—one of the top agricultural and science universities internationally—Norway's Oslo International Rotary Club, The New University of West Bengal, Habiganj Agricultural University, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR), Tula Development Board, Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, and International Rice Research Institute.

According to the recently published rankings on the website of the Spain-based Simago Institution, Sylhet Agricultural University has achieved the top position in the country by excelling among 41 institutions in innovative achievements. Addi­tionally, in the realm of hydrological sciences among 11 institutions in the country, Sylhet Agricultural Unive­rsity has secured the first position.

In 2023, among a total of 8,433 institutions worldwide, this ranking was determined by examining education, research, societal impact, social engagement, health, innovation, and technology, among other subjects. In the overall rankings, Sylhet Agricultural University holds the 5th position among higher education institutions in Bangladesh.

After joining as the 6th Vice-Chancellor of Sylhet Agricultural University, I took various initiatives to reinforce the efforts in education, research, and extension work alongside resolving administrative issues. Measures have been taken to create a conducive environment by efficiently managing educational programs, addressing departmental issues, and mitigating distance barriers in classrooms for educational advancement. As a result, the university has not remained closed even for a single day.

Efforts have been made to identify and eliminate obstacles to effective and timely educational methodologies. The curriculum has been tailored to meet the demands of the 21st century, focusing on food security and climate change challenges. There has been comprehensive development in the education system by revising the contemporary academic rules and regulations, while incorporating new dimensions in research.

In this regard, agreements have been signed with both national and international reputable universities and research institutions. Efforts have been made to enhance students' visibility in research, create internationally recognized research hubs, and emphasize the practical application of acquired knowledge in the field. Priority has been given to creating a conducive environment for education, and efforts have been made to facilitate communication with all relevant stakeholders. 

The university has improved internet facilities to ensure significant roles in education, research, and extension activities.

The aim is to elevate Sylhet Agricultural University into an internationally reputable modern institution. A comprehensive plan has been undertaken to ensure a fair remuneration for teachers and promote a conducive environment for education. Effective steps have been taken to address various issues, including efficiency and the welfare of employees.

Alongside maintaining a conducive learning environment within the university, various programs have been initiated to transparently engage students in sports, literature, and cultural activities. Overall, efforts are being made to establish discipline in the university by upholding justice, policies, cleanliness, and the rule of law.

We have maintained remarkable progress in various aspects despite different challenges and financial constraints in agriculture-related fields. The university has been contributing significantly to various developmental visions of the Bangladesh government. Through extension programs, information exchange, and collaborative projects, we have actively contributed to agricultural development at local, national, and international levels. Our participation with government institutions, stakeholders, and other 

organizations has strengthened our involvement.

There was a time when farmers engaged in agricultural work only to sustain themselves. Now, such scenes are no longer seen. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the present government is relentlessly working to make agriculture modern and profitable. 

After gaining independence, the war-torn Bangladesh was ridiculed as a basket case. Today, Bangladesh is on the highway of development. In the 52 years of independence, the country's greatest success has come in agriculture. Despite shortages in food for decades, the country is now self-sufficient in this regard, with Sylhet Agricultural University being a proud contributor.

Dr. Md. Jamal Uddin Bhuiyan is  Vice-Chancellor of Sylhet Agricultural University