Revamping Agriculture With Skill Development And Entrepreneurship

Agriculture sector plays a formidable role in the sustained growth and development of the Indian economy.

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India is rich in human resource but it lacks skilled manpower. The government, as well as the industry, realised this problem and skill training gained prominence in recent times. Today, there are many programmes run by both central and state governments that augment the skill development activities in India. These activities are further strengthened by CSR initiatives which harp on the need for a skilled workforce. But most of the skill development programmes are linked to the tertiary sector while the primary and secondary sector got less or no attention. Interventions to bring about a skilled workforce in these domains are required.

Agriculture sector plays a formidable role in the sustained growth and development of the Indian economy. It provides for the food and nutrition requirements of 1.3 billion Indian people and creates livelihood opportunities through forwarding and backward linkages to support 60% of the Indian population. It is a primary sector that hasn’t been fully explored by the institutions/organisations/agencies working in the field of skill development. Farmers can be helped through a producer-company model. With this, a reduction in production cost can be achieved. Some organisations have tried to employ forward linkages.

Since the focus is shifting from Employability to Entrepreneurship, there is a need to shift the implementation approach of agencies to work towards developing entrepreneurship skills. Youth, especially those engaged in the agriculture sector must be targeted. According to Tracxn (a start-up activity tracking platform), in 2015 out of the total $6 billion invested in an overall tech start-up, the agriculture sector managed to attract less than 1% investment. 

However, agri-tech startups received a renewed interest from investors in 2016. According to the Agtech investing report for 2016, a sum of $3.23 billion was invested in the agriculture sector worldwide. 53 Indian agri-tech startups managed to raise $313 million in the year, indicating that Agri-entrepreneurship is slowly gaining a foothold in the Indian start-up ecosystem.

Entrepreneurship intervention can provide an innovative solution to some of the critical agricultural issues such as crop productivity in India. It currently produces 2.4 tons per hectare (t/ha) of rice and 3.15 (t/ha) of wheat, which is far below China’s yield of 4.7 (t/ha) for rice and 4.9 (t/ha) for wheat respectively. Similarly, in India, the input cost in agriculture is ₹64 for a yield worth ₹100. Due to the bottleneck in supply chain infrastructure and insufficient storage facility, crops worth $14 billion are wasted each year in India. These challenges could be overcome with entrepreneurship intervention programmes. 

Entrepreneurs can use precision farming techniques to increase crop productivity. The input costs can be minimized by incorporating data-driven decision making and reducing the unnecessary use of input materials. Agri-Entrepreneurs can support the government in creating storage facilities and use information technology to manage the supply chain to reduce wastage of crops.

Agri-entrepreneurship not only employs entrepreneurial skills, models and innovative ideas to economically solve problems in the agriculture sector rather it can increase its profitability. Further, it can also play a significant role in solving the challenges related to information dissemination, farm management, capital availability, mechanization of farm and the agriculture supply chain. With these, it can contribute significantly to the economic empowerment of rural India.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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