The Bold Voice of J&K

Retaining youth in agriculture

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Dr. Parveen Kumar, Dr. Rehana Akhter Bijli

India is an agrarian economy. More than fifty per cent of the population is engaged in agricultural related activities. Youth are now increasingly finding agriculture activities a burden. New generation of rural masses are largely disillusioned with this traditional profession and is migrating to urban areas enmasse. Although it is desirable to reduce the stress on agriculture gradually by shifting people to manufacturing sector but migration on any large scale can increase the stress on already overburdened urban centres and also affect the future of agriculture. Agricultural sector with low rate of returns has failed to stimulate the intellectuals to join this vocation. This non remunerativeness of agriculture coupled with the lack of suitable employment opportunities in the rural areas has forced the rural youths to find out new avenues of employment in urban areas. The result is the prompted migration from the rural areas. Now, this has become a big social problem as most of these youth are finding it difficult to sustain their families with the meager amount they earn in cities. In fact the shrinking size of land holdings forces the farming community to send their children to industrial townships for a decent living.
Presently indication is that the migration of rural youth to cities is around 45 per cent in the country. A social stigma is also attached to this. Youth shun agriculture as society looks down upon farming. Families of prospective brides do not prefer farming youth. A report of the Ministry of Agriculture puts the total No. pass out agricultural graduates and post graduates in the year 2015 at 24,736. It is not possible to absorb all these in government jobs
This large number of agricultural graduates and post graduates coming out of the various agricultural universities every year coupled with such a large-scale migration of rural youth from farming to urban areas has caused concern among the country’s agricultural policy. This trend if goes on unchecked would have wider social consequences. This would also affect agricultural activities in the future. Rural youths have to be convinced and motivated by taking suitable concrete steps that they can also earn more while remaining in their farms then they earn in cities. At the same time those coming out of the agricultural universities have also to be provided with suitable opportunities so that their potential gets suitably utilised. Taking this challenge, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has also started a scheme to control migration of rural youths from rural areas and incentivize them to take agriculture as a career. Various schemes have been started like Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture (ARYA), Agri-Clinics and Agri-Business Centres (ACABC), Students READY, Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA).
Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture (ARYA): The name of the scheme speaks in itself of the aims and objectives of this scheme. Basically the productivity of any sector depends on skills and technology. Agriculture being a primary sector can be made to contribute more if skill of the concerned ones is upgraded. ARYA aims to provide skill based agricultural related training to rural youths to increase their incomes. This will also help to retain them in agriculture and make agriculture a remunerative business. Besides improving agricultural productivity, it will also control rural migration. The training to the rural youths will be imparted through the district level bodies, the Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs). It will also help in developing service sector in rural area by building entrepreneurial skills. About 200-300 youths will be trained by each Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) in the agriculture allied sectors such as apiculture, sericulture, poultry farming, dairying, fisheries, Post harvest food processing and value addition and other related and relevant fields. This programme can help keep the rural youth attached to agriculture, directly or indirectly without actually tilling the land.
Agri Clinics and Agribusiness Centers: (ACABC)
The Government of India has also started Agri-clinics and Agribusiness Centre Scheme to cater to the needs of the unemployed agricultural and allied graduates. The Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, in association with NABARD and MANAGE has launched this dual purpose scheme. The National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE) is the implementing agency for Training Component and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is the implementing agency for Subsidy Component of ACABC scheme. The scheme aims to tap the expertise available in the large number agriculture and related graduates. In fact not only graduates but also those with diploma in agriculture can set up your own Agri-Clinic or Agri-Business Centre thereby offering professional extension services to innumerable farmers. The trained youths will also supplement the efforts of the public extension by providing extension and other services to the farmers on payment basis or free of cost as per his agri-venture. This also will create gainful self-employment opportunities to unemployed agricultural graduates, agricultural diploma holders, The scheme provides them the necessary training to set up their own agriculture related ventures like soil testing labs, poultry units, vermi-compost units, mushroom centers, apiaries and much more. The philosophy behind this is basically to make youth job providers and not job seekers. After completing the training, youths become eligible to receive loans from the banks at reduced rates with some initial moratorium on payment. They can set individual or joint ventures and depending upon the nature of venture, the amount is decided. The scheme has already attracted quiet a large number of youths who are now successfully running their businesses and providing employment to many others.
Rural Entrepreneurship Awareness Development Yojana (READY):
Student READY (Rural Entrepreneurship Awareness Development Yojana), is a new programme introduced from 2016-17. It aims at providing opportunities to acquire hands-on-experience and entrepreneurial skills among the agricultural graduates. It has to focus on rural entrepreneurship awareness, practical experience in real-life situation in rural settings and creating awareness in undergraduate students about practical agriculture and allied sciences. The programme will help in building confidence, skill and acquire Indigenous Technical Knowledge (ITK) of the locality and thereby, preparing the pass-out for self-employment.
Providing Urban Facilities to Rural Areas (PURA):
PURA is another programme that can be successfully tried to retain the youth is agriculture. Provision of agricultural related infrastructure like post harvest food processing unites, storage shed, marketing structures and others will motivate them to stay in villages. The youth can be attracted to and retained in farming only if it becomes economically rewarding and intellectually stimulating. Economically it can be made more rewarding when they will save the amount they used to incur on transportation, commissions and on other miscellaneous activities.
All these programmes have the potential to retain the unemployed educated youth within the rural areas and in agricultural sector. However, the success of these programmes will depend upon their proper implementation and further improvement in quality of life of rural areas at par with urban areas. Besides these schemes the necessary changes should be made in the curriculum of agricultural universities and other institutes to incorporate entrepreneurship based education and to prepare and train the youth for taking up agriculture on scientific lines and engaging in income generating ventures.

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