It’s hard to imagine a world without easy access to our basic nutritional requirements provided by fruits and vegetables. These products are primarily produced by farmers. If an increasing number of people opt out of jobs in the agricultural sector, the entire economy will be affected. India now has 95.8 million cultivators for whom farming is their main occupation. That’s less than 8 per cent of the population.
Slowly, farmers are migrating away from their villages and coming to the conclusion that agriculture is a waste of time and effort, and is not remunerative. In addition, their children are not opting for agriculture but instead are going out in search of jobs in towns and cities. Unfortunately, when they migrate, they often end up worse off than they were in their villages because they lack the skills and training to take up professions in urban areas. They also face social problems and have to keep up with a high cost of living.
Our country will also become entirely dependent on the imports of agricultural products. The rupee is plummeting against several international currencies already. Increased imports would only worsen this predicament. India’s agricultural exports in the world are valued at 34.4 billion USD. India has also surpassed Thailand to become the top rice exporter in the world. A reduction in exports from the primary sector will adversely affect India’s national income and GDP, thus affecting every citizen in the country as well. Damage control is necessary to prevent this situation from occurring.
The Susandhi Krishi Chetana (SKC) of the Deshpande Foundation trains the next generation of agriculturists who seek to take on agri-allied activities at the career level. The three month long program gives students extensive on-field training and in depth knowledge of farming techniques such as soil and water management, seed and pest management as well as IT and communication training. These will make them more competent in the agricultural industry and provide a scope for growth and expansion of their careers. The students will be more motivated to continue their family profession instead of travelling to cities.
It is important to give students the opportunity to choose what they want to study in the future. For those who choose to pursue further education and jobs in the field of agriculture, this program is a great learning platform, as it will provide useful insight into the sector. Even during the course of the program, the student can decide whether he or she wants to continue in this field of work.
Since many of the students are from low-income, agricultural backgrounds may not be able to afford this program. This is where MicroGraam steps in and helps by providing a low interest loan for the Rs. 7,500 program. They can repay the loans after they start working with the knowledge that they gain. By providing the next generation of farmers/agri-allied professions with advanced agricultural techniques, it is more likely that they will be able to earn a sustainable income.
Finally, it’s up to the student to decide what he or she wants to pursue in the future. For those who opt to take up careers in the agricultural field, this program by the Deshpande Foundation is a viable and pragmatic option.
Sowing the Seeds of Education