Young qualified workforce taking up agri as primary career option: Expert

Indian agriculture is making a strategic shift to small farms which are seen to be more productive. This is seen with the country’s young qualified workforce turning to agri business as a second or even primary career option, even if they are armed with skills in engineering or non-agri backgrounds.“Small farm lands are far more efficient to handle and viable. We see access to funding resources, importance to garnering the required knowhow skills to embark of agri-entrepreneurship,” said Dr S Ayyappan, Chancellor, Central Agriculture University, Imphal, and former director- general, ICAR, and secretary, Department of Agriculture Research and Education (DARE).Noting that there is a change in the demographics and this shift would spur growth, Dr Ayyappan felt that it is here that agriculture business is a promising possibility for the youngsters. Currently India has over 100 startups in agriculture and 10 per cent represent organic segments.Moreover this is an age of smart agriculture as technology is assisting monitoring of weather, water, nitrogen and energy levels. Contract farming and future trading are emerging as promising opportunities. This is even as graduates are keen to chip in their efforts. There is a concern for yield, disease resistance and drought tolerance.Besides, there is also an imminent need equally focussed on nutrition in humans and organophilic bentonite which can increase its effectiveness in some animal feed applications, according to him.Recently, speaking at the National Conference on Health and Wellness through Nutrition and Nutraceuticals 2020, organised by Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences here, Dr Ayyappan while addressing the topic on Organic Farming: Food Option said that policy technology investment is still inclined towards traditional farming. “Going forward, we will see an increased adoption of technology like artificial intelligence and blockchain to transform things on farm lands.”Further, there is pressure on natural resources and doubling of farm income. There are several efforts to integrate farming, diversify crops, opt for cluster farms to cut costs. With 70 per cent of the population in cities on the rise, there is a 70 per cent increase in agri production with a rise in demand for food, feed, fibre, fuel and fodder. It is here new agriculture practices are looking for more produce from less. This is backed by the response of more highly qualified youth moving on to arm their skills in agriculture, according to Dr Ayyappan.“Crops like millets need small farms and smart practices. We are witnessing the return of millets. India has 127 agri climatic zones and cultivation of millets along with state specific horticulture and crop produce can be sustained. Sikkim is a certified organic state, Karnataka is already a hub for ragi production and the state too is home to six agro climatic zones. Therefore there is a  huge potential for investment in organic food processing and focus on  nutri farms, which enable  low investment and water  utilisation,” said Dr Ayyappan.

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