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OpinionsAGRICULTURE: Skill to entrepreneurship model

AGRICULTURE: Skill to entrepreneurship model

Date:

Dr. Parveen Kumar

From the last few years, agriculture sector in the country is witnessing some positive changes and this is sure to have far reaching consequences in the future for the country. Youths of the country which infact had maintained a distance from this noble profession mainly because of non remunerativeness of this sector are once again finding their fortunes in it. A holistic entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country is now stimulating so many entrepreneurial opportunities for the youths especially in the agriculture sector and they now understand that government cannot provide to all of them; instead by setting up their own income generating enterprises, they can generate millions of jobs for many other like them.

India is now the most populous country in the . Fortunately, the most populous country in the world is the country with most of the youth population. This ‘demographic dividend' in the form of a large youth population is an asset for the country provided their energy is channelized in a positive way. The only way to channelize their energy in the positive direction is by equipping them with appropriate skills. A report of the United Nations also warned that India's demographic dividend could be at the cusp of disaster unless enough jobs are created for new entrants. In this age of digitization and automation, generating adequate employment opportunities is also not a simple task. Skill development is therefore the answer to all the questions. The increasing numbers of unemployed peoples finding no work are compelled to go into agriculture. This type of employment in agriculture is largely disguised one. The increasing no. of unemployed in the country also makes it necessary to look into their skill development through appropriate trainings and hand holding.

Transformation of prevalent subsistence agriculture model has to be substituted with a remunerative, sustainable and diversified agri-entrepreneurship model. Agri-entrepreneurship means agri-business and this business encompasses a wide range of activities, including cultivating different crops, food processing and value addition, production of various inputs like bio-fertilizers, bio-control agents, organic products, farm implements, custom hiring centers and many others. To further make farming inspirational for the youth, it will have to be blended with technology. This model has numerous benefits for agriculture as well as those practicing agriculture. It has the potential to revolutionize conventional farming practices and open up new avenues for agricultural entrepreneurs. It will result in farming community becoming become job providers instead of job seekers. The infrastructure set up by different enterprises at the villages will definitely lead to development of these rural areas. Nurturing the entrepreneurial abilities of agricultural entrepreneurs is also pivotal for fostering innovation and propelling economic growth in the agricultural sector. Many initiatives have been taken to further the skill and entrepreneurship development in the country especially in the agricultural sector.

At the level, Agricultural Skill Council of India (ASCI) was formed in 2013 to address the end to end skilling needs in a 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. The Agriculture Skill Council of India has a large no. of youths under the PM Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) and at the same time developed 116 qualification packs for various job roles covering agriculture, horticulture, dairy, poultry, fishery, apiculture, agro-forestry etc. Agriculture is also being introduced as a vocational subject from standard 9 to 12 in 533 different schools across five states under Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA). Agricultural start up has been launched by the government which is trying to remove the existing constraints in existing system and made setting up of agricultural related ventures more  enterprise friendly and youth stimulating. There are already numerous agriculture related startups that are working towards the upliftment of the agricultural sector and have formulated well innovative ideas to for serving Indian farming community. Another programme Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture (ARYA) has been started. The objectives of the ARYA are (i) 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 in selected districts, (ii) to enable the Farm Youth to establish network groups to take up resource and capital intensive activities like processing, value addition and marketing; and (iii) to demonstrate functional linkage with different institutions and stakeholders for convergence of opportunities available under various schemes/programme for sustainable development of Youth. Presently ARYA is being implemented in 25 States through KVKs, usually one district from each State with technical partners from ICAR institutes and Agricultural Universities. The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) is also providing financial support for various skill courses to different institutes.

Hon'ble Primeminister of the country Sh. Narendra Modi has already exhorted the youth to skill, reskill and upskill themselves to remain relevant in the rapidly changing business environment. Young people are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and due to the lack of skills. Agriculture is a sector which has the potential to absorb unemployed and for this we need to develop entrepreneurial skills amongst them. Agricultural entrepreneurs can identify new market opportunities, take calculated risks, and create sustainable business models that contribute to the overall development of the agricultural industry. There are so many skill and entrepreneurship development initiatives of various agencies which offer a diverse array of opportunities to the youth to update their knowledge and equip themselves with the latest skills to set up their own income generating units. MANAGE Hyderabad is running various programmes like Skill Training of Rural Youth (STRY), Agri-clinics and Agribusiness centers (ACABC), Certified Farm Advisors, Agri startups for skill development of the youths. Various other agencies like and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI), Jammu and Kashmir Bank, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Khadi and Village Industries Commission KVIC are providing skill and entrepreneurial opportunities to the youth.

The skill to entrepreneurship model should be an integration of modern technology, management practices and entrepreneurial vision into the agricultural sector. This integration can further transform farming from a traditional occupation into a dynamic and innovative industry. There are numerous successful examples where young agricultural entrepreneurs are employing advanced techniques and tools to optimize production, reduce wastage and maximize profitability. According to the chairman of UGC Prof. Jagdish Kumar, various higher academic institutes often focus on creating academic knowledge and the industry is involved in the practical application of the knowledge coming out from the academia. Professor Jagdish calls for developing a symbiotic relationship between industry and students coming out of the higher educational institutes. What the students have learnt from their institutes can be applied in addressing various technical issues of the industry. This way student will learn besides getting equipped with practical knowledge that will be highly useful to them in establishing their enterprises. Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) like State Agriculture Universities SAUs should also start one month to three month job oriented short duration courses in agriculture related ventures like mushroom cultivation, vermicompost production, nursery raising, soil clinics, poultry rearing, tractor repairing and many others. Currently most of the skill development courses going on in these universities are of one week duration which is not sufficient to equip them with the relevant skills in depth. Due to less no. of days, the practical aspect of training suffers a lot. These trained youths can than also be placed in various agri-related industries like food processing, seed production, organic inputs, farm implements etc. For this the institutes can have to tie up with industry for placement of these trained youths.

Skill development has the potential to increase productivity which will result in increasing farmers' income; thus it can serve as a deterrent to the rural migration. Appropriate skill development besides checking unemployment particularly in rural settings can also reduce wastage of food items particularly the perishables thus making them more acceptable for exports and ensuring food and nutritional security of all.

 

Dr. Kumar writes on agriculture and social issues; can be reached at pkumar6674@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

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Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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