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Why are the Youth not attracted towards Agriculture?

“Twenty three” – was the age when the revolutionary Che Guevera questioned himself, “Why do the ill – fated people face such poverty and oppression?” while he toured about eight thousand kilometres along with his twenty nine years young friend Alberto Granado, in South America. That was the question which helped Cuba liberate from the clutches of capitalistic guild. No wonder that Che Guevera is celebrated as a youth exemplar even today and it is true that he will be celebrated for days to come too! Such is the power of youth. It can be potentially world – shattering. Just like Che Guevera we might often crop up with questions. A few questions find answers in our minds, a few questions seem to have no solutions and a few questions we might never want to think about, for the only reason, that it might expose our own oversights. Those are such questions which could revolutionize even an entire century of dreadfulness. This Youth Day, the youth – driven IMoT Agri Forum is breaking the fetters by discussing the most self – whacking question “What really holds back the youth from taking up agriculture?

Who do you think can answer this question spot – on? That’s right! It would be perfectly just for the “Youth of the Nation” to voice their concerns standing in their own shoes. Let us see the best takes of youth on their stand.

Youth find it non – lucrative!

Almost all the youth respondents are of the view that the main reason for repulsion from practising farming is that farming is non – lucrative. This gets evidently shown from the words of one the respondent, Mr Karthi Shanmugam, a Sericulture graduate from Salem who says “Agriculture as a profession has failed to attract the youths”. Another respondent Ms Deva Dharshini, an agriculture student from Theni argues that “Most of the modern youth do not know what exactly is agriculture and they neither understand its necessity. All are running behind money. Profit is what matters to all my fellow beings”. Mr Prithiv Raj, a post graduate student from Kashmir points out that “At present a very small number of youths are being directed towards farming which is appreciable. But, banks turn away potential persons interested to do farming, as they think – farming a not viable business. How will they take up then?”. Similarly a respondent Mr Manivel, who is a sericulture student from Mettupalayam brings up that “The youths are more technology driven and prefer Corporate jobs. They are unwilling to let their limbs touch the mother land”. Ms Birundha, an agriculture student from Trichy claims, “By saying that youngsters are the future of India our missile man not only meant their involvement in space research, industry and other sectors alone but also agricultural sector. Still they don’t like it as they need income security and stability”. Mr Gowrishankar, another youth respondent defends by telling that, “If an interested youth wants to start doing agriculture, initially he needs investment which he never gets readily! What will he do?” Also Mr Bala Ganesh, an agriculture student from Theni is of the view that “Youths feel that agriculture takes much longer time to succeed than other profession. Youngsters wants huge money in short period. But agriculture is not a one day business.”

Youth in agriculture
Youngsters wants huge money in short period. But agriculture is not a one day business.

Farming unmasks to be socially non – prestigious!

Societies have the power to both lift up mankind and put it down as well. In our case, society widely does the latter function. Our respondents feel that society looks down on their farming interests. One Ms Kiruthika says, “the graduated youths have inferiority complex when they think about farming as a career option. The society makes them believe that if they fail once, they can’t overcome and manage it”. Likewise Mr Gowrishankar, another youth respondent notes that “youths in the urban areas don’t know the practices of agriculture”. Mr Bala Ganesh accuses, “Young people are usually not interested in this field of work, in large part due to their perception of farming being antiquated and unprofitable. Even if a youngster is willing to do farming, he will be either prohibited by his family or due to his society that mocks at him. If still some are interested, there exists a lot of politics and middlemen”. Ms Harsavardhini, an agribusiness management student opens up saying that “Some of our youths get toiled by some factors that hinder their move towards the path of greenery. First, most of the youths are not living their lives for themselves. They and their lives are driven by the society and societal pride. Of course, I agree that society teaches everything for the youth. But it should not take charge over his/her life. The society demotivates the youth and diverts them towards industrial jobs which is a bitter truth.” “Youth think society will respect them only when they get job from well reputed company or government institution or any other jobs rather than agriculture. These misperceptions will repel youngsters from agriculture” points Ms Birundha. Also, Mr Manivel says, “The youths who are brought up in the city background, feel farming as an inferior job besides they lack enough exposure too”. Mr Prithiv Raj exclaims sadly that, “Even the agricultural graduates are not ready to do farming. This is because societal things make negative perception about agriculture among the youths”.

Farming – as a career seems unsafe and uncomfortable!

Families have always taken a frontline position when it comes to career options of youth. The sad fact that most farmer parents themselves are hesitant to let their children take up farming as their career option is obvious from the statements of our panelists. Ms Birundha asserts, “Many farmers who are switching over to other jobs encourage their children to prefer urban based jobs”. “As we are in the modern technology world, no parent wants his or her child to become an agriculturist rather to be in a white collar job. Since childhood they are being insisted to become doctor or engineer or some sort of stable career like these” mentions Mr Prithiv Raj. Likewise, Ms Kiruthika notes, “Youth want to live a comfortable, sophisticated and luxurious life. They think happiness comes only through other business, not by farming.” Also, Ms Deva Dharshini alleges that, “If you ask youth to raise his voice for agriculture, I am sure he will. But if you ask him to do farming he will not. Because he knows to create motivation for others but he will not put them in activation. He wants to sit in leisure, without any pressure. If comfort is on one side, status is on other side! An idle person sitting in an AC room on the tenth floor is called “Rich”, but a person who is working throughout the day, all throughout the year is called “Poor”. We aren’t realizing that, our one day food is the life of a farmers 365 days!”

“If you ask youth to raise his voice for agriculture, I am sure he will. But if you ask him to do farming he will not. Because he knows to create motivation for others but he will not put them in activation”

There is knowledge shortage!

Most of the time, we find lately that losses in farming greatly owe to the practising of either obsolete or improper technologies. For such rationale apt knowledge is all that is needed. Our discussers here feel many pitfalls when it comes to agriculture knowledge of the youth. Mr Karthi Shanmugam worries that, “The evolved educational systems have unfortunately failed to make agriculture and farming as a part of their curriculum. Even man’s later invention, Computer has made a perfect place in the day-to-day living and the art of computing too found a dominative place in the widely adopted educational system. Rather the earliest invention ‘farming’ is neglected. But we also need to accept that by growing concern over food security, the urban youths are well ahead of the rural youths in giving importance to farming. Terrace gardening, vertical gardening, hydroponic cultures and every other new technologies are being practiced by the urban youths.” “There is pure lack of knowledge about agriculture. Sometimes lack of knowledge leads to lack of interest.  There are nearly about 53 State Agricultural Universities in India. And only those students who enter into them get exposed and expertised in the field of agriculture” adds up Ms Harsavardhini.

Agriculture in curriculum youth in agriculture
The evolved educational systems have unfortunately failed to make agriculture and farming as a part of their curriculum. P.C. Tamara Nursery

Government must lend a helping hand

Whenever we speak about the miseries of farming, we always find government policies not very satisfying. This youth debate is no excuse to it. “Indian farmers are in urgent need that our government policies should switch over from food security to farmers income security due to continuous suicides. Out of 100% agricultural population 80% of the farmers lie under small and marginal farmers’ category. The policies and subsidies are in utter fiasco. Due to bureaucratic mishaps the government policies do not reach that 80% of the farming community”, exclaims Ms Birundha. Mr Bala Ganesh is also of the similar view saying that, “Even if government provides loan and other facilities to the farmers, they are hindered by the employees and functionaries”. “Youth population often migrate from their native to another rural or rural to urban locality in search of employment. Migration on any manner will substantially reduce the possibility of youth to involve in agriculture, since farming is a livelihood based art which requires nativity. Migration needs to be curtailed. Special schemes by Government have to be launched to involve rural youth in agriculture” wraps up Mr Karthi Shanmugam.

Food and Water stops youth from farming?

Apart from the above said factors, Mr R Babu, an agriculture graduate also finds scarcity of labour, monsoon vagaries, technology gaps and farmer suicides demotivating them to go after agriculture. Mr Manivel exposes a new cause that “The changed food habits and craze for junk foods make our youths a bit lesser in physical health when compared to our forefathers. But youths are stout in mental health and they are willing to take up challenging mental work rather than agriculture. So, they may consider themselves far inferior that they lack the confidence in taking up Agriculture”. “Water is the primary source for farming. Its dearth is an obstacle for farming. This is also a major issue for youth”, explains Ms Kiruthika.

What can be done?

As the youth have themselves let out the reasons for the indifference towards farming, they also take it further to resolve the issues. Ms Birundha says, “First ensure youth that they can earn more income from farming than any other jobs. Government should take initiative to create awareness about precision farming, sustainable agriculture that derives remunerative income. Also include agriculture subjects from schooling itself. Let it should be studied as a definite subject in all the standards”. While Ms Deva Dharshini calls out that “If you ask an agri graduate’s ambition, he may say [that] he wants to be an IAS, a researcher, an agri officer, a scientist, a banker or a government servant. No one dares to become a farmer. Isn’t that a job? While an agri graduate itself ignores the value of a farmer, then how will others recognize it?” Mr Bala Ganesh underscores that “Politics, law, climate, people’s mind-set that exists now should be changed so that the youth mentality would be changed so that they feel successful at agriculture”. Mr Manivel adds up that, “The media people should also concentrate on farming based programmes to a considerable extent. But at the outset, every good deeds should start from ourselves!”. “In fact, to be true if a boy or a girl agrees a farming person to be his or her bride or bridegroom respectively then there will be great change over in the field of agriculture. This may be a thing to laugh a while, but it is the ultimate thing among the rural youths who quit farming” ends up Mr Prithiv Raj on a lighter vein.

“If you ask an agri graduate’s ambition, he may say [that] he wants to be an IAS, a researcher, an agri officer, a scientist, a banker or a government servant. No one dares to become a farmer…”

Like we see in all problems, here too we find many external reasons contributing to the lack of interest towards agriculture. But unlike in any other problem the potential for change lies all in our own self! A change in the frame of mind is all that is needed. When potential energy of youth turns into kinetic energy, everything will fall in place. That’s the reason why great minds like Swami Vivekanandha and Dr Kalam pampered the youth community like anything and everything!

Let us not be mere desktop activists and touch screen campaigners. Let the spark in us serve as the beacon for the entire farming populace!

Happy Youth Day and IMoT Anniversary Day!

 

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