Education Policy

Catch them young

Catch them young

Photo for representation only. File photo

Deepender Deswal

ASHOK Kundu (30), son of a farmer who earned a living by cultivating three acres at Khairi village in Uklana block, has migrated to Hisar with his family. He is keen to start his own business venture rather than following in his father’s footsteps. Kundu says, “Agriculture is no more a profitable occupation. It’s difficult for a farmer to give priority to the education of his children.” Kundu has leased out the family’s land to another farmer in the village.

Amid such a dismal scenario in the agriculture sector, the idea to introduce farm education at the middle level in schools has come as a whiff of fresh air for the peasantry. Farmers and agriculture say this is one of the many steps needed to be taken to keep farming in the family and catch the attention of new-age entrepreneurs and businessmen to the field of agri-business.

Agriculture scientists say getting a job is a priority for the youngsters. Though the latter try to explore options in agri-business and other entrepreneurship arenas, lack of awareness and expertise is a stumbling block for them, claim experts, adding that introduction to farm education at an early stage can turn the tide.

Declining share

As per a report of the Indian Chamber of Food and Agriculture (ICFA), the share of the agriculture sector in Haryana’s economy has been declining over the years. The share of agriculture and allied sectors in the GSDP has fallen from 60.7% in 1969-70 to 21.3% in 2006-07 and 15.3% in 2013-14.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pitched for introducing agriculture-related education at the middle school level. The PM has stated that knowledge of agriculture and its practical application at the school level will help in developing agriculture-related understanding in students and enable them to disseminate information about modern farming techniques and marketing to their family members.

Sajjan Kumar, a young villager from Bhiwani district, says it’s a good decision to introduce agriculture as a subject at the school level. “As of now, students are acquainted with basic facts about agriculture during schooling. Agriculture needs to be introduced as a separate subject for comprehensive understanding of the field which is the mainstay of the economy of many states and the country as a whole,” he observes.

Kumar says the farming sector should be made attractive for the younger lot. “Besides basic agriculture, there are related fields such as agro-entrepreneurship, marketing and processing which have the potential to employ huge human resources,” he adds.

Dr Kuldeep Dhindsa, an eminent agriculture scientist, says Haryana is a leading contributor of foodgrains and milk. “Agriculture is the principal occupation of the people in the state. But falling returns have led to lack of interest in the next generation of farmers in rural Haryana. Now, they prefer to be employed for a meagre Rs 10,000 per month in the private sector where they have to work for 8-10 hours a day,” he says, adding that the overall situation can be improved if along with introducing agriculture in schools, the government also take a serious view of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations.

Dr Dhindsa says Hisar-based Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University (HAU) introduced BSc Agriculture course as an integrated five-year programme after Class X to draw matriculates. “The PM’s initiative will bear fruit if the colleges and universities, too, start courses after matriculation,” he adds.

Dr Ram Kumar, an agriculturist, says exposure to agriculture as a subject in schools is not enough to attract the new generation to agriculture-related occupations. “A meagre number of agricultural university passouts or retired professors get engaged in farming,” he says. Dr Kumar says agriculture and allied sectors need to be viable to attract the youth.

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