For a second agricultural revolution to take off, merely improving the production of crops is not enough. What is needed is intervention through education and extension that caters to the needs of the real-life situation. Agriculture students with hands-on experience and entrepreneurial skills are the need of the hour, say agriculture scientists. Training youngsters in specific areas scientifically would not only keep them motivated but would also help in alleviating poverty and unemployment, they say.
The problem of insufficient personnel could be addressed by giving exclusive vocational training to develop entrepreneurial skills in students, say professors of agriculture, who were part of a conference hosted by the Tamil Nadu Animal and Veterinary Sciences University (TANUVAS) last month.
As many as 22 vice-chancellors from agriculture universities across the country participated in the two-day national symposium in Chennai and deliberated on how best to address the steady fall in agricultural production. The theme of the conference was ‘Positioning national agriculture research and education system for vocational education’.
There is a shortage of manpower in 125 sub-sectors in agriculture and allied sectors which could be compensated by training youth, according to N.S. Rathore, deputy director general (education) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Despite the huge demand for trained personnel, only 3.3 per cent are taking up vocational training in agriculture, prof. Rathore says. The ICAR is keen on introducing Rural Entrepreneurship Awareness Development Yojana, a programme to provide opportunities to acquire knowledge through experiential learning and skill development. For this to happen, universities should put in place a Model Act for better governance, quality assurance through accreditation and develop competent faculty.
A way forward is to train women in larger numbers, says M.C. Varshneya, president of Indian Agricultural Universities Association (IAUA), which organised the symposium. In the last four decades, the share of agricultural GDP has fallen from 51 to just 14 per cent of the total GDP. As much as 49 per cent of manpower is employed in the agricultural sector but hardly five per cent of this manpower is skilled, he rues. With as many as 73 State agriculture universities being part of the IAUA, training programmes for women could be launched, he says.
Gujarat had launched a polytechnic programme in agriculture and allied sector, says N.C. Patel, IAUA secretary and vice-chancellor of Anand Agricultural University. The programme could be strengthened either in the 10+3 pattern or by introducing certificate programmes, similar to those offered by Industrial Training Institutes.
TANUVAS vice-chancellor S. Thilagar says the recommendations made in each of the six panel discussions at the symposium have been sent to the association for approval.
Source : The Hindu