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Skill development is critical for nation building: ASSOCHAM

The president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) Rana Kapoor has said that, enhancing skills of the rural population is imperative to facilitate agricultural diversification and micro enterprises.

“This can help them develop alternate livelihoods, thus enabling year-round income, even in lean agriculture months,” he said.

He felt, skilling of agricultural workforce is essential to boost innovation, financial management, mitigation of risks and enhanced productivity. “High value commodities like dairy, poultry and horticultural products need more direct interventions, as these fields demand farm hands having technical skills to operate modern machines, manage farm practices like integrated nutrient management, nursery management, breeding and harvesting techniques.”

The Chamber believes the agriculture industry requires skill development most , since the sector contributes around 14 per cent to India’s GDP, 11 per cent to the export basket and is the primary source of income for almost half the country’s population. ASSOCHAM recommended the following measures to enhance skill development:

  • Training programs should shift focus from the farmer as a producer to as an entrepreneur.
  • Employment in agriculture activity has experienced declined by -5 per cent between 2004-05 and 2009-10. If skills are not enhanced, there is likely to be further unskilled urban migration and increase in slum habitation.
  • There is a need to design training programs which incorporate practical learning. Pictures, videos and vernacular training instructions are necessary for success.
  • TV channels, given their high rural penetration, can be a mode for running dedicated programs showcasing benefits of skill building and modern technology, with the costs being borne by the Government.
  • ASSOCHAM stresses the need to retain rural youth in the agricultural system – this is possible only if farm as well as off-farm activities offer good returns. Extension of various skills is therefore critical for seeking commercial farming options instead of subsistence farming.

Courtesy: ASSOCHAM