Skilling youth in agriculture
Dr Parveen Kumar
Skill refers to the learned ability to perform an action with determined results wherein a definite amount of time or energy or both are specified. Skills can often be divided into domain-general and domain-specific skills. Skilled men power is an asset for any country. Unfortunately, our country has a very less percentage of skilled population. All across the globe, the proportion of formally skilled workers as a percentage of total workforce stands at 24 per cent in China, 52 per cent in USA, 68 per cent in United Kingdom and 80 percent in Japan as against only 3 per cent in India. There is a huge mismatch between the requirement and availability of skilled men power. Recognizing the importance of skills for the youth, World Youth Skills Day (WYSD) is celebrated every year all across the globe on July 15.
History of WYSD: In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared July 15 as World Youth Skills Day, to celebrate the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. The United Nations General Assembly by consensus adopted a resolution, spearheaded by Sri Lanka, declaring 15th July as the World Youth Skills Day. Sri Lanka initiated this resolution, with the assistance of the G77 and China to highlight at a global level, the importance of youth skills development. The UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Youth, Ahmed Alhendawi, and his office supported this initiative from the early days, while the UN system in New York and Colombo were solidly behind it.
WORLD YOUTH SKILLS DAY
Indian Scenario: India has the unique distinction of being one of the countries in the world where the working age population will be far in excess of those dependent on them and as per the World Bank this will continue till 2040. With large no. of population in the working age group, India has the demographic dividend. This has been recognized by economists and policy makers as a potential source of significant strength for national economy provided we are able to equip and continuously upgrade the skills of population working in that age group. Recognizing the importance of skills in development of youths and in the growth of national economy, the government is focusing on skill development of the youth. To remove the disconnect between demand and supply of skilled manpower and to build the new skills and innovative thinking not only for existing jobs but also for jobs that are to be created, Government of India headed by Prime minister Sh. Narendra Modi set up a separate ‘Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship’ on 9 November 2014. The new ministry is to coordinate all skill development efforts across the country. The Ministry aims to skill on a large scale with speed and high standards in order to achieve its vision of a ‘Skilled India’. The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) is the flagship scheme of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSD&E) with the objective of Skill Certification to enable a large number of Indian youth to take up industry-relevant skill training that will help them in securing a better livelihood. Individuals with prior learning experience or skills will also be assessed and certified under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Under this Scheme, Training and Assessment fees are completely paid by the Government. The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is aided in skill development initiatives by its various functional arms that include Directorate General of Training (DGT), National Skill Development Agency (NSDA), National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET), National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), National Skill Development Fund (NSDF)
Skilling youth in Agriculture: Agriculture sector constitutes the backbone of the Indian economy. This is because of the sector being a source of livelihood for more than 50 percent of the population and contributing about 20 percent to the Indian economy. It is also the largest employment generating sector providing ample opportunities of self employment for youths. The skills of these youths need to be developed. At the national level Agricultural Skill Council of India (ASCI) was formed on 2013 as the 13th sector skill council to address the end to end skilling needs in agriculture sector that employs more than 50 per cent of the workforce. The Agriculture Skill Council is working to achieve rapid growth in agriculture sector through creation of a skilled workforce in the country. Its mission is to create more non agricultural jobs i. e in the allied enterprises, linking and generating maximum number of entry level jobs, enhancing the economic value of time and labour of landless workforce, making farmers of the country agriculture entrepreneurs through market information and linking of farm labour with wage related employment in agriculture sector during non-farm months.The Agriculture Skill Council of India has already trained thousands of young persons under the PM Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY). Various other government as well as private agencies and financial institutions in the country like Agricultural Universities, MANAGE,NABARD and other banks are also supporting enterprise development in agriculture sector through skill trainings, monetary support and necessary hand holding. The largest Employment Guarantee Programme in the country MGNREGA has now also been revisited by incorporating element of skill development of unskilled workers. This will definitely help them to equip them with better employment opportunities and to also the Government to make good the loss of skilled labourers. This is being done under the project ‘UNNATI’. It aims at ensuring that a MGNREGA family moves beyond labour work to improve employment opportunities. The labourers enrolled in MGNREGA have now the opportunity to upgrade their skill sets and equip themselves with better employment opportunities. To ensure that these MGNREGA workers attend the skill training programmes, the Ministry of Rural Development would make good the loss of daily livelihood of the family to the tune of rupees 200-250 daily as the MGNREGA worker undergoes training. This would also ensure that peoples attend training programmes without the fear of losing out on their daily wages. A government hand out says that the programme (UNNATI) is meant to train one adult member (between 18 and 45 years) per house household, who has completed 100 days of work under MGNREGA in the previous financial year. The candidate undergoing training will be paid stipend for a maximum period of 100 days and for one programme per household as per the prevailing wages in the state concerned. The Ministry of Rural Development has also tied up with Krishi Vigyan Kendras to upgrade the skills of MGNREGA workers in different aspects related to agriculture like vermi compost production technology, value addition and processing of fruits and vegetables, mushroom and spawn production, artificial insemination, storage of different commodities and many other topics relevant to creation of self employment opportunities. Agri-Clinics and Agri Business Centers AC&ABC is another programme aimed at skill development of youth in agriculture and allied sectors. The National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), Hyderabad has been designated as the apex institute for implementation of this ambitious flagship programme for the agriculture professionals of the country. The objectives of this programme are to create self employment opportunities for agricultural professionals with degree or diploma and to strengthen extension services in the country by creating a pool of skill developed professionals who could cater to the advisory, diagnostic, inputs, marketing and other related needs of the farming community. The two objectives are to be fulfilled through the establishment of Agri Clinics and Agribusiness centers. Agri-clinics are meant to provide expert, updated and relevant advice to the farming community based on their requirement.. Agribusiness Centers, as the name suggests these are business entities related to agriculture. These are set up for commercial purposes. The Agribusiness centers are set up by young professionals trained under this scheme. Skill Training of Rural Youth (STRY) is another programme of MANAGE aimed at skill development of rural youth in different areas related to agriculture and allied sectors. Start-ups have brought up a new type of culture in the country transforming agriculture to agri-business through agri startups where enterprising farmers practice profitable agriculture. Government of India provides proper support through including monetary support for establishing new ventures in the agriculture sector in the form of Start-ups. The start-ups besides generating employment opportunities has also creates new infrastructure in the villages leading to development of these rural pockets. Another programme aimed at development and upgradation of young agricultural graduates is Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture (ARYA). ARYA aims to attract and empower the youth in rural areas to take up various Agriculture, allied and service sector enterprises for sustainable income and gainful employment and to enable the farm youth to establish network groups to take up resource and capital intensive activities like processing, value addition and marketing. Since its inception, World Youth Skills Day has provided a unique opportunity to all the relevant stakeholders working towards the development of youth to come out with ways and means to continuously upgrade the skills of youth.
(The author is a faculty at SKUAST-K).