To stop youth turning away from farming, ARYA sows the seeds of agrarian change

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By K V KURMANATH

To address this challenge and make agriculture attractive to the youth, the Union Government is rolling out a programme that offers bankable options for the youth in agriculture and allied sectors.

The programme, Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture (ARYA), is aimed at attracting and empowering the youth in rural areas. “It will cover both the youth with some land holding and landless youth,” AK Singh, Deputy Director-General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), told Business line.

“We are trying to create a model to make the youth stay in agriculture, which can then be replicated elsewhere. We have identified certain areas. For example, for bee-keeping and growing mushrooms, you don’t need much land,” Singh added.

With farming becoming a difficult proposition, more and more youth from farm families are migrating to the cities in search of livelihoods. “The youth is migrating (from villages). We need to create a model that can present them with income-generating avenues. ARYA aims to create a replicable model. The youth will be agents of change and spread the word in the neighbourhood,” he said.

Why youth turn away

“Ultimately, it is economics that decides,” feels K Ravi, Convener of the Telangana Rythu Joint Action Committee (Rythu JAC). In his estimation, farm activity no longer supports the whole family. “So, the children of farmers are migrating to cities, seeking livelihood opportunities in the service sector and taking up jobs as watchmen and drivers. Farm activity is not being seen as a prestigious profession any longer,” he adds.

“You must provide infrastructure by establishing industries, particularly agro-based industries, to provide livelhood opportunities. As long as you don’t do this, the youth will continue to move away from agriculture,” Ravi points out.

ARYA was taken up as a pilot last year with 25 KVKs (Krishi Vignan Kendras) in 25 States. The initiative looks to establish 200-300 ‘change agents’ in each district. “The response has been good. We would like to increase the coverage of ARYA programme to at least 100 KVKs. We hope to cover all the KVKs in phases,” Singh said.

Singh was in Hyderabad to take part in the three-day national conference on Revisiting Extension strategies. “We will encourage the farm youth to establish network groups to build enterprises around agriculture and allied sectors. They will be exposed to opportunities in food processing, value addition and marketing,” he said.

The ARYA programme will also demonstrate functional linkages with different institutions and stakeholders that will bring value to the fledgeling business enterprises set up by the youth.

Source: Hindu Business Line

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