In a situation, where less than 20% of youth are involved in agriculture, making farming financially viable and attractive to youth, is the key to attracting them, said experts at a consultation at M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in Chennai today.
Receiving the first copy of the book on “Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture” at MSSRF, actor Mr R Sarath Kumar, called for the need to bring about reverse migration from urban to rural India. “We need to create a farmer in every home, to make agriculture sustainable. Youth have to be attracted in a number of different ways and farming needs to be remunerative and sustainable. Let us also make agriculture colourful so everyone will be interested,” said the actor.
Dr H Konuma, Assistant Director General, FAO (Food Agriculture Organization), Asia who released the publication, said, “We expect a lot from the youth both in terms of production as well as research. They are going to be the future leaders of agriculture.”
Dr Ajay Parida, Executive Director said it was unfair to expect youth to enter agriculture unless it was attractive to them. “We should not ask how to attract youth, but first we should do some ground work to make it attractive to them. We were taken aback when a young farmer asked us why can’t we make tractors air conditioned? A change in mindset is required. Each scientist should create a farmer, not just talk about it.”
The session was chaired by the Vice Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Dr. K Ramasami. Prof. Dr.Narayan Gowda, Former Vice-Chancellor, was the Lead Speaker on the occasion while Abdul Rashid Hakimi, VC Afghanistan National Agriculture Sciences and Technology University, Afghanistan, Jeevan Karuppannan, Professor Malaysian Agriculture University also participated.
Speakers emphasized on the importance of investing in rural areas and utilizing technology for dry lands where paddy or wheat need not be the only crop and technology would support agriculture.
More than half of Tamil Nadu’s population of 7.2 crore people, is below the age of 30. The book documents the proceedings of workshops conducted by MSSRF with over 1000 youth in 26 districts across Tamil Nadu to help involve them and attract them into farming.
Asia Pacific Consultation: The Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation in the context of the International Year of Family Farming is currently on at MSSRF, Chennai. The consultation is being organized in partnership with Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada, World Food Programme (WFP), Department for International Development (DFID) UK, UN Women, Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium other national and international agencies.
About MSSRF: Established in 1988, with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that Professor Swaminathan received in 1987, MSSRF applies science and technology options to address practical problems faced by rural populations in agriculture, food and nutrition, impacting livelihood of 100,000 farmers and fisherfolk every day with influence that spreads across 18 countries.