Assam Agricultural University is the first institution of its kind in the whole of North-Eastern Region of India. The main goal of this institution is to produce globally competitive human resources in farm sectorand to carry out research in both conventional and frontier areas for production optimization as well as to disseminate the generated technologies as public good for benefitting the food growers/produces and traders involved in the sector while emphasizing on sustainability, equity and overall food security at household level.
Genesis of AAU -
The embryo of the agricultural research in the state of Assam was formed as early as 1897 with the establishment of the Upper Shillong Experimental Farm (now in Meghalaya) just after about a decade of creation of the agricultural department in 1882. However, the seeds of agricultural research in today’s Assam were sown in the dawn of the twentieth century with the establishment of two Rice Experimental Stations, one at Karimganj in Barak valley in 1913 and the other at Titabor in Brahmaputra valley in 1923. Subsequent to these research stations, a number of research stations were established to conduct research on important crops, more specifically, jute, pulses, oilseeds etc. The Assam Agricultural University was established on April 1, 1969 under The Assam Agricultural University Act, 1968’ with the mandate of imparting farm education, conduct research in agriculture and allied sciences and to effectively disseminate technologies so generated. Before establishment of the University, there were altogether 17 research schemes/projects in the state under the Department of Agriculture. By July 1973, all the research projects and 10 experimental farms were transferred by the Government of Assam to the AAU which already inherited the College of Agriculture and its farm at Barbheta, Jorhat and College of Veterinary Sciences at Khanapara, Guwahati.
Subsequently, College of Community Science at Jorhat (1969), College of Fisheries at Raha (1988), Biswanath College of Agriculture at Biswanath Chariali (1988) and Lakhimpur College of Veterinary Science at Joyhing, North Lakhimpur (1988) were established. Presently, the University has three more colleges under its jurisdiction, viz., Sarat Chandra Singha College of Agriculture, Chapar, College of Horticulture, Nalbari & College of Sericulture, Titabar. Similarly, few more regional research stations at Shillongani, Diphu, Gossaigaon, Lakhimpur; and commodity research stations at Kahikuchi, Buralikson, Tinsukia, Kharua, Burnihat and Mandira were added to generate location and crop specific agricultural production packages.
Every morning children with their backpack on and heading towards school might not seem harmless enough, but this very concern has drawn in many researchers to explore beneath the veil. This is because the practice of lifting heavy load is often found to be accompanied by health issues. And the school backpack is nowadays considered as a daily occupational load. The present study ‘School backpack weight and prevalence of musculoskeletal discomfort among adolescent students.’ was carried out with the objectives (1) to determine the backpack weight of adolescent students and its association with selected variables, (2) to ascertain the prevalence of musculoskeletal discomfort and its association with selected variables, and (3) to suggest measures to reduce the risk involved in carrying the backpack load.
For this study a total of 120 samples (30 samples from each school) were selected from four different schools of Jorhat district, Assam by simple random sampling, comprising of both the gender. Survey method was used and collection of data was done through a questionnaire and still photographs. Information on demographic profile, anthropometric factors, and information on backpack and its use and characteristics of musculoskeletal discomfort, such as frequency and severity were collected. Further Chi Square analysis was done to determine the association between variables. The samples selected were of the age group 11 years to 14 years and the study revealed that only 3 per cent students carried backpack less than 4kg, 38 percent were carrying between 4-6kg and 59 per cent were carrying more than 6kg. In terms of percentage of body weight carrying; only 16 per cent were found to be carrying less than 10% of their body weight, which is the recommended bag weight by many scientific associations. Data further revealed that the highest musculoskeletal discomfort reported was in shoulders (94.2%), followed by upper back (78.3%), neck (73.3%) and others. It was observed that there is a significant association between backpack weight and musculoskeletal discomfort (p=0.001*), class of the respondent (p=0.009*) and age of the respondents (p=0.018*). And musculoskeletal discomfort was found to be associated with class of the respondent (p=0.009*).
Further, an effort was made to determine the comfortable backpack carrying position. The body joint angles formed in the sagittal plane while hanging the
backpack in three different positions on the back was compared. Ten percent of the total sample students were selected for this experimental study of average body weight of 44.39 kg and carrying backpack of average weight 5.8 kg. Data analyzed in the software Ergo Master revealed that carrying the backpack high on the back i.e. upper back (Position C) snuggling it promotes the least deviation of the body angles from the neutral posture compared to backpack hanging low over the buttock and backpack worn in the middle back. Further on the basis of the experimental study and information collected from research papers, journals, internet and also govt. regulations and guidelines, measures were suggested for the children, parents, school authority and other concerned authorities on safe usage of the backpack.
Storage of paddy grains is one of the most drudgery prone post harvest activity of Assam, which is predominantly performed by rural women. The present study entitled ‘Physiological Cost of Storage of Paddy and Ergonomic Intervention for Drudgery Reduction’ was proposed with the following objectives – (1) Development of scale for assessing occupational health hazards of farm women in post harvest activities (OHHPA scale). (2) Assessment of physical fitness of the farm women involved in paddy storage activity. (3) Assessment of physiological workload of farm women in storage of paddy. (4) Design modification of conventional bamboo basket for enhancing comfort and efficiency.
Both survey and experimental method were used for the study. Survey method was conducted on three hundred farm women of six different villages of Jorhat district. Women samples were selected at three stages viz – 60 for item analysis, 60 for testing reliability and 300 samples for administering the developed scale. After establishing validity and reliability of the scale, the scale was administered on 300 farm women for assessing health hazards in post harvest activities. Experimental method was conducted on thirty subjects in the age group of 25-35 years who were with normal health, non-pregnant and non-lactating having normal blood pressure and without any major illness were selected for the purpose of assessing physical fitness, physiological workload and postural stress of farm women. Electronic tread mill was used for assessing physical fitness of the farm women. Heart rate was recorded with heart rate monitor and postural stress in different regions was measured with inclinometer. For postural analysis ovaku work posture analysis system (OWAS) method was used. Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was calculated by using 5 point rating scale developed by Varghese et al. Body map was used to identify the body part discomfort (BPD) in different parts of the body. Engineering control was applied for design modification of conventional bamboo basket for storing paddy grains.
Personal and demographic characteristics of farm women revealed that cent per cent respondents were literate and sixty six per cent respondents belonged to nuclear families. Majority of the respondents (82%) belonged to marginal farmers having 1 acre of land for paddy cultivation. As regards to age of the respondents, 88 per cent falls in the age group of 30-40 years. Occurrences of biological, physical, accidental and environmental hazards were common among Assamese farm women. More than 47 per cent of the respondents were in the category of ‘high’ incidences of different types of hazards and respondents’ belonging to ‘severe’ incidences of hazards were nil. The findings also showed that 58 per cent of the farm women were in the category of 'high’ incidence of hazards in post harvest activities. The findings on physical characteristics of the respondents revealed that mean age of the respondent farm women were 32 years of age. Average height of the respondent farm women was 151.42 cm, average weight was 45 kg. Lean body mass (LBM) of the respondents was 32.35 kg. Body mass index (BMI) of the selected respondents was 20.87 and VO2 max (ml. kg-1.min-1) was found to be 26.73. Fat percentage of the respondents was 28. Most of the respondents (47 per cent) belonged to ‘ectomorphic’ group. Thirty three per cent of farm women had ‘very good’ level of physical fitness. The physiological workload of farm women in storing paddy grains by using conventional basket was categorized as ‘heavy’ activity indicating that design modification is necessary for storing paddy grain. It was found that work postures had a distinctly harmful effect on musculoskeletal system of the farm women. The angles of average flexion was highest in upper arm (90.620) and extension was in thoracic was observed to be 115.300 indicating deviation of body parts. The farm women performed the storage activity under acceptable level of temperature and humidity except illumination. The average weight of the load was found to be 14.03 kg. The recommended weight limit (RWL) for storage activity by the use of conventional basket was found to be 6.54 kg. The lifting index of storage of paddy grains by farm women was found to be 2.14 which indicates that farm women suffers from lot of work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) or injury and design modification is necessary for reducing health hazards and work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) of farm women in storage of paddy grains.
Engineering control was applied for preventing and controlling occupational health hazards and work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) of farm women in paddy storage activity. The design criteria selected for modifying conventional basket were load capacity, frontal length, depth, weight, base and grip of the basket. Physiological workload of storage of paddy grains in the use of modified baskets was found to be ‘moderately heavy’ activity. The use of modified basket-3 for paddy storage activity minimized postural stress, musculo-skeletal disorder, body part discomfort of farm women to a considerable extent. The recommended weight limit (RWL) for storage activity by the use of modified basket-3 was found to be 10 kgs. The lifting index of storage of paddy grains by the use of modified basket-3 was found to be 0.97, which indicates that all the healthy farm women could carry 10 kgs of loads without any risk of work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). Use of modified basket for paddy storage activity increase output, enhance efficiency, comfort, workable life and reduce ergonomic cost, drudgery and health hazards of farm women.