My continuous interaction with the farmers of Haryana State, especially during the last three years, has given me an
opportunity to understand clearly the real farming problems. Invariably, farmers are facing problems related to declining factor productivity,
inadequate natural resource management, poor market access and less income. Another fast emerging challenge before farmers on one hand is that of
ageing population and on the other declining interest among rural youth to take up agriculture as a profession. A large section of youth invariably
prefers to migrate to cities to seek employment, especially the Government jobs. Hence, a major challenge today is how to retain youth in
agriculture, which certainly cannot be left unaddressed.
The declining interest of rural youth in agriculture is directly related to existing poor physical amenities, socio - economic conditions and
lack of enabling environment. Economic factors such as low paid employment, inadequate credit facilities, low profit margins, and lack of
insurance against crop failure are also discouraging youth to get engaged in agriculture. Social factors include public perception about farming,
especially the parental desire that their children should opt out of agriculture. Environmental issues include poor soil health, non-availability
of water for irrigation and climate change.
On the contrary, it is quite encouraging to note that some enlightened youth in Haryana are taking up innovative approaches through diversified
agriculture and by initiating agri - business related activities. Many of the farm youth have developed innovative skills for technology generation,
transfer and adoption. However, concerted efforts are still needed to stimulate their interest further by expanding their horizon. Proper incentives
for their involvement in agricultural edu-cation, research and extension and by linking them to the expanding markets will have positive effects in
attracting youth in agriculture.
Earlier, seed, pesticide, fertilizer and farm machinery were the only potential sectors to employ agricultural graduates/rural youth. Now new
opportunities are emerging in IT linked agri - extension, seed technology, biotechnology, food processing, cold storage, packaging, supply chain
management, insurance and farm credit. Private sector and NGOs are also engaging the rural youth. In this context, we now need greater thrust on
vocational training of youth (including female) for relevant skill acquisition and greater confidence building to serve as 'Technology Agents' as
well as efficient knowledge/service providers.
It is high time that all out efforts are made at all levels to engage youth in multifarious activities right from 'Plough to Plate' so as to make
farming both attractive as well as lucrative preposition. In fact, we now need 'Job Creators and not Job Seekers', which is possible only when new
innovations are adopted and out scaled on a bigger scale for needed impact on the livelihood of small holder farmers.