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Attracting and Retaining Youths in Agriculture
2/18/2020 11:15:26 PM

Dr. Banarsi Lal and Dr. Pawan Sharma

India is a land of the youths. Youths are our greatest asset. Youths have creative minds and are capable of achieving seemingly impossible tasks such as monsoon management, climate change adaptation, mitigation and enduring malnutrition. Average size of land holding in our country is small. Hence, group cooperation is important to harness the value of scale both in the production and post-harvest phases of farming. Rural youths can play a significance role in shaping the future of agriculture in India. There is dire need of agri-business centres and agri-clinics centres on a big scale. Farm schools need to be established in the fields of young farmers so as to promote the farmer- to-farmer learning. Value addition in agriculture is needed in order to increase the income and employment. New agricultural technologies need to be introduced after careful consideration of risks and benefits so that their adoption rate can be enhanced. Youths are the primarily productive human resource for socio-economic development of the nation.
Thus, there is need to divert their role in mainstream development. The Indian youth is diverse in ethnicity, religion and socio-economic backgrounds. Such diversity necessitates customized initiatives to meet the needs and activate their untapped potential. There is need to work on biotechnology, biodiversity, ecotechnology, food security, education and information and communication technologies. The strategic and participatory research, capacity building, networking and partnership building should be adopted including the principle of social inclusion in access to technologies which further can enhance the income and conserve natural resources. The research and outreach strategies need to be devised to bridge the rich-poor and gender divides in the areas of information, knowledge and skill empowerment. There is dire need to make agriculture more attractive and rewarding for the younger generation.
Agriculture is the backbone of India. Till now agriculture continues to be at the mercy of the monsoon and the markets in our country. It is imperative for the nation to produce food not only to feed its 1.32 billion population but also for an equal number of livestock. It is fact that if farmers work in the field, the non-farmers are able to eat. It is expected that for the next two decades the agriculture sector in India will undergo significant transformation which will result in both challenges and opportunities for the youths. In order to achieve food security, India must change from extensive production systems, characterized by minimal inputs and low yields to intensive systems which require greater investments in external inputs and labour saving technologies, but hold the potential to greatly increase yields and provide decent incomes and employment for the rural youths now and in future. The agriculture sector has the potential to provide numerous employment opportunities in food production, marketing, processing, retail, input sales, research and extension etc. In order to attract youths in agriculture Govt.has launched a project namely Attracting and Retaining Youths in Agriculture (ARYA).In Reasi and Kathua districts of J&K, this project is being run by the respective KVKs in Reasi and Kathua districts. There is need to work towards the goal of sustaining and aiding youths engaged in agriculture.
Now-a-days rural areas in India today are undergoing a phenomenal transformation. In place of individual effort, machines are taking over the hard labour and the government subsidies for mechanization of agricultural fields have brought on a renaissance, changing the face of Indian villages and farmers. Recently grain production in India has jumped highs. Many villages in India are endowed with rich resources to cultivate cereals, vegetables, fruits and grain. Individual per capita income must be raised through development of grain production aligned with information technology. So agriculture and allied sectors must work together to accomplish this feat. Presently, youngsters constitute only 13-19% of farmers. It is imperative to make agriculture a lucrative and profitable occupation in order to increase that number. Income and employment among the rural youths can be increased by combining hard work with modern technologies. Youngsters play a major role and duty in conserving the natural resources. The day is not far when we shall have to pay for oxygen, when water will be rationed and grave bodily disorders will be rampant. Climate change is the burning issue and avertable disasters will create havoc everywhere. According to Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam said, “The duty to protect natural resources begins from oneself, then family, society and to the country”. Technology needs to be technically accessible, culturally acceptable and environmentally feasible. There is need to create opportunities in seed industry for the young generation. We need to have a high-yielding/hybrid seeds and proper seed inputs for another Green Revolution. Availability of seeds must be ensured for seasonal crops. In India, we require 86 lakhs quintal seeds ever year. We meet only 30% of this requirement through Central Seed Forum and Seed Production Forum. In abroad seed related technologies are given more importance. Rural youths should possess honesty, talent, value added technologies, warehousing and storage facilities. It is predicted that by 2050, we have to produce at least double to our productivity.
Currently, climate has become highly unpredictable. Hence we need to consider these facts while we plan to improve agricultural productivity. There is need to develop new resistant drought varieties of different crops. Farmers must cooperate by rotating crops to achieve the best results. Alternate Cropping Pattern based on water and rainfall availability must be focussed under watershed management programmes. Integrated Pest Management(IPM), Green Manure usage, cow urine, Panchgavya ,beejamrit, fermented butter milk etc. can be practiced by farmers. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) forecasting mark situations can also help farmers tremendously. Rural youths of the country can play the significant role in the second Green Revolution brought about by the youths of this country with the new technologies and innovations. All the fallow and barren land in the villages can be leased and put into good use too. In present era youths of the country are coming to farming only for two reasons- either they don’t get any better job or because they are genuinely interested in making a profitable affair out of it.
Farming requires full commitment and dedication. Adoption of micro- irrigation methods can significantly solve water issues. There is strong link between industry and agriculture. There must also be a marketing interface between agriculture and industry. This can be facilitated by eliminating middle-men in every village. Policy changes need to be put in place to curb the rampant indiscriminate sale of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. Farmers need to be educated on export chances and Farmers Producers Organisations (FPOs) need to be formed for this purpose. But this can be possible only by institutionalising good cold storage and warehousing facilities for the agricultural produce. Agricultural colleges must also include life sciences and cultivation practices in their syllabus.
Kitchen-gardening practices need to be encouraged. Vaccination of goats and sheep by government veterinary hospitals should be instituted and the veterinary doctor need to visit the goat and sheep farms. Deworming medicine should also be provided to the dairy farmers. Rain guns and sprinkler equipments should be provided to the farmers at the subsidized rates. Integrated farming, including poultry farming, dairy farming and organic farming will prove to be resource-effective and environmentally viable. Vermi-composting and soil-testing at appropriate intervals must be done for the soil health management. The best agricultural practices can be combined with the traditional agricultural methods reinforced by modern technology and innovations. There is need to sow the seeds of creativity and enthusiasm among the youths.
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