It is likely to be included in the 12th Five-Year-Plan

An innovative national pilot project to attract and retain rural youth in agriculture, in a bid to tap the youth potential in farming and also prevent their migration to urban areas, is in the pipeline.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has recommended this proposal to the Planning Commission of India which has agreed in-principle to include it in the 12th five-year-plan, according to experts involved in the process. The proposal regarding the pilot project had been recommended to the ICAR by its committee which had been formed to suggest the measures to be taken to attract youth to farming.

The recommendations of the ICAR committee with a theme -- “Attracting and Retaining of Youth in Agriculture (ARYA)” had been scrutinised by the vice-chancellors of all the agricultural universities in the country, agricultural experts and innovative farmers before forwarding to the Planning Commission.

University of Agricultural Sciences-Bangalore Vice-chancellor K. Narayana Gowda, who headed the ARYA Committee, told The Hindu that the Committee had recommended that a Rs. 200-crore pilot project should be taken up in 30 different places across the country to motivate the rural youth to remain in agriculture. “The prospects of agriculture are getting affected because of the youth shunning farming and migrating to cities in search of menial jobs. The only way of attracting them to agriculture is to turn farming into a profitable venture. The proposed project aims at not only making farming a profitable venture, but also increasing the farmers’ incomes by three folds in five years,” Dr. Gowda noted.

According to him, efforts will be made to increase the farmers’ incomes under the proposed project through various technological interventions depending upon the local requirements and bringing about convergence among the local research institutes, administrative bodies and farmers. This would also involve organising the youth on the basis of crops being grown by them and promotion of integrated farming.

To begin with, about 500 farm youth would be chosen from each centre, which would comprise a cluster of three to four village panchayats. They would be given training in various aspects of farming including hi-tech farming and value addition to crops. The project would also link them with banks to get loans for setting up processing units and custom-hiring services related to farm machinery.

Dr. Gowda said the main intention of the project was to instil confidence among rural youth that they can lead a decent life through farming rather than chasing menial jobs in cities. Through this, an effort is also being made to transform the agrarian sector, he noted.

* The proposed project will be taken up at 30 centres in the country

* Each centre will identify about 500 farm youth

* Efforts will be made to increase their incomes by three folds through various interventions

* They will be encouraged to take up integrated farming, set up processing units and custom-hiring services of farm machinery

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