By Samar Kaur, IFFCO Kisan
India is an agricultural economy and it won’t be incorrect to say that ‘India lives in villages.
Villagers still primarily earn their livelihood from agriculture and related activities. Indian youth comprises 41% of the total population of the country and a major challenge being faced today is that rural youth is losing interest in agriculture, leaving the sector in the hands of the last generation which is less at par with the capability to equip themselves with the everyday updating technology.
The noble profession of agriculture is becoming a concern with the reducing interest and the declining profits when measured with the total costs incurred for production.
There is a need to kindle the interest and contribution of rural youths towards agriculture to ensure the prosperity of the agriculture sector because youth have the zeal to make things work in an innovative manner.
The government on regular intervals has appealed to the youth to explore career opportunities in agriculture, livestock research.
It is the time to understand that it is the youth who can extract the needed benefits and evolve an innovative way of farming keeping in mind the conditions like climate change and other seasonal abnormalities.
The focus is needed on the strategy to make agriculture an occupation that not only ignites youth’s interest but also convert it into a financially promising sector.
Recent studies show that only 20% of youth of rural families are engaged in agriculture and the numbers indicate a grim situation. Schemes run by state and central governments to engage youths into agriculture have succeeded to a limited extent.
The aim should be to make agriculture more attractive to the younger generation; here are a few suggested ways to accomplish the task:
1. Link Social Media to Agriculture
By interconnecting agriculture and social media, youth can be directed towards re-routing the needed innovation and technology into the agriculture sector. Organizations like ICAR, Iffco Kisan, etc have been working continuously to empower the farmers in the countryside through its various products and services. We have been extensively targeting the niche audience on social media and engaging them in informative sessions through social media in different languages to maximize the reach.
Farming is never presented as a young mind’s game in media. There is a crucial need of awareness and the advantages of having a prosperous agricultural economy. The prospects of agriculture as a career should be made clear to the youth to engage them into the fields. The media, ICT and social media can all be used to cater to the need.
3.Strengthening the education system in agriculture
Very few students opt to study agriculture. One of the main reasons behind the same can be a lack of quality training in the sector. The academic curriculum needs to be linked with the practicality and the real-life challenge, focusing on the research part and troubleshooting aiming at agribusiness and entrepreneurship as well as engaging the youth.
4.Utilizing ICT(Information and Communication Technology)
ICT can be relied upon for education and training purposes. Those sections can be targeted which are unable to attend higher education and also to disseminate the recent technology updates. Iffco Kisan understands the challenges of catering a tech-savvy generation and has come up with some services:
- AgroICT Services: Addresses several issues faced by farmers by using State of Art ICT Services and provides localized tailor-made solutions, free of cost to the farmers
- Call Centre and Rural Distribution: IFFCO Kisan is managing different domain based Call Centre with the help of a dedicated team of experts providing solutions to both rural and urban consumers for their day to day problems. Through its rural distribution services, they aim to make easy availability of different product and services like fertilisers, pesticides, insurance services etc to the farmer.
5.Facilitate easy access to credit and land
The land is a scarce resource when it comes to agriculture, especially to youth. Without the presence of collateral, getting credit is impossible. Hence there is a need of a simpler system that can work through this challenge. For example, IFFCO Tokio lends out credits to farmers and also avail them insurance for the crops, making them financially stronger.
There is a tendency that the young generation may see agriculture as a non-profitable and obsolete sector to choose a career. Government must ensure that agriculture does not pose as a neglected sector and the existing farmers don’t feel left out.
Appropriate investments and payouts are necessary for any business to flourish and agriculture should be made a sector that should more effectively reduce poverty than any other investment. Farmers should be paid well for the product to make sure that it serves as an incentive for the existing and an example for youth.
IFFCO Kisan has been serving the farmers for the last decade and giving information about the right use of quality fertilizers and agricultural materials in the market at subsidized rates.
IFFCO has been making a major contribution to the country’s food production for 50 years. Carrying the same spirit, IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Limited has been promoted as a joint venture with Telecom Bharti Airtel and Star Global Resources Limited. Through this Green SIM card, information related to crop protection, horticulture, animal husbandry, market prices and weather is provided to the farmers daily through free voice messages.