How India can create opportunities for its new-age farmers
- India’s agriculture industry has been neglected for a long time.
- As per World Bank, agricultural workers in the total workforce will drop from 58.2% in 2001 to 25.7% by 2050.
- Ravi Annavarapu, President of agricultural sciences company
FMCIndia speaks to Business Insider about how to make agriculture a more lucrative business opportunity for India’s youth.
AdvertisementThe number of agriculture workers is reducing in India; and is expected to drop further to 25.7% by 2050. And, it was at 58% in 2001.
On the other hand, the number of agritech startups are on the rise. There were about 450 agritech startups in India before the pandemic, growing at the rate of 25% year-on-year, according to a NASSCOM report. Farming, like many other sectors, is all set to be disrupted by technology.
“Advanced technology and precision farming have the potential to take Indian agro-economy to newer heights. The
This means, the tech-friendly, younger generation would be taking part in new-age farming much more than the earlier generation did. It will also create employment opportunities in rural areas.
“With renewed focus by the government on eliminating inefficiencies of the sector, newer avenues are opening up for youth, in terms of R&D, agritech, startup culture and food processing sectors,” said Annavarapu.
Agriculture contributes around 20% to India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but the sector continues to be a laggard in the Indian economy. The progress of the country depends on the growth and sustainability of this sector.
Despite the pandemic and climate change risks, growth in agriculture and the allied sector rose to 3.9% in 2021-22 from 3.6% a year earlier, driving the overall Indian economy's real GDP expansion of 9.2% in FY22, according to the Economic Survey 2021-22.
“The pandemic has been a blessing in disguise as digital technology and innovative solutions were adopted, which gave rise to the agritech models. New tech business models, such as e-commerce platforms, are undoubtedly assisting smallholder farmers in increasing their income by directly connecting them to customers. This practice is also giving rise to sustainable farming,” said Annavarapu.
Making agriculture attractive
Agriculture, however, is yet to catch the fancy of the youth. The high risks and low returns, coupled with the continued fragmentation of land holdings is becoming a big mental block for rural youth.
Advertisement“The most significant way to inspire youth to enter agriculture is to showcase the immense scope, growth possibilities, resource-rich terrain of the country, and involvement of modern roles (research and development, technology, farmers training etc),” said Annavarapu.
Agriculture should be taught early in school, he said, applauding the government’s efforts to include agriculture at school levels under the New Education Policy.
“The focus should be on changing the narrative – from agriculture being a rural-centric occupation to a larger picture, which educates them on the gamut of opportunities present in the industry, and its importance in nation-building,” said Annavarapu.
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