The World Food Day (WFD) is celebrated on October 16 to commemorate the
founding of Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in 1945. This is
the most celebrated day of the United Nations as over 150 countries
across the world organize events to create awareness leading food
security and to achieve Zero Hunger Huger by 2030.
This year the theme is ‘Change the future of migration. Invest in food
security and rural development’.
The FAO estimates that about 763 million people move within their own
courtiers due to hunger, poverty and the increase in extreme weather
related events linked to climate change is forcing farmers to migrate in
search of better livelihood opportunities. Almost a third of India’s
population, over 300 million is migrants.
The Census of India reports that about 84 per cent migrate within the
state and about 2 per cent are intra –state migrants. Huge numbers from
the Eastern regions and North East areas have moved to different parts
of India in search of work and better employment opportunities. Most of
them are seasonal migrants, working for short time and returning to
their original state to fend the small farms they own.
According to National Sample Survey Organization, 45 per cent of the
farmers interviewed wanted to quit farming. There are multiple factors,
especially the declining productivity and profitability that acts as
disincentive for younger generation forcing them to migrate.
FAO has called for creating conditions that allow rural youth to stay at
home by providing resilient livelihoods to tackle the migration
challenge. Creating business opportunities that are non crop based, in
food processing and horticultural enterprises can lead to increased food
security. There is an urgent need to build sustainable growth based on
long term recovery of the rural community.
The National Commission of Farmers called for attracting and retaining
educated youth in farming sector. Heeding to this advice the National
Policy for Farmers adopted by Parliament in 2007 emphasised the need to
involve youth in agriculture through providing appropriate support
measures to retain them in agriculture and allied ancillary processing
Since 2014 NDA led government at the centre has launched several
initiatives to address this crisis. The flagship programmes like Soil
Health Card, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Rashtirya Krishi Vikas
Yojana etc are some of the schemes providing support to farming
community. Each of these programmes attempts to provide solutions to
reduce and mitigate the crisis, either of climate change or failure of
crops due to lack of rainfall.
The government has set the ambitious target of doubling the farmer’s
income by 2022, when the country completes 75 years of independence.
Towards achieving this target, the government is reorienting
interventions in the farm and non-farm sectors.
The most unique initiative is ARYA or Attracting and Retaining Youth in
Agriculture. Launched by Indian Council of Agricultural Research it aims
at attracting and retaining youth in rural areas through providing
sustainable income through value addition, establish market linkages to
make it attractive for the younger generation to return to villages.
This is being implemented in 25 states through Krishi Vigyan Kendra’s,
in one district of each state. It attempts to showcase working model
that economically feasible for the youth and which has the potential to
While launching ARYA, Prof M S Swaminthan said “"Unless agriculture is
made remunerative and attractive, it would be difficult to retain youth
in the field," he said. When even existing farmers are moving away from
farming, unless agriculture is made remunerative, it is unlikely that
educated youngsters would take it up. Unless productivity or income is
increased, farming cannot become an attractive venture for the young”.
Another initiative as part of the Skill India programme is supporting
Agriculture Skill Council of India. The main objective is to build the
capacity of the agricultural sector and bridge the gap between the labs
and farms. It is being done through upgrading the skills of cultivators,
agricultural labours and those engaged allied industry supporting
It should be hoped that these schemes would attract youth to farming
once again. Otherwise, we have reached a situation when majority of
youth, even those belonging to farming families, do not want to pursue
the farming as their vocation. They have experienced the harshness of
the life of a farmer, where all his efforts to earn a decent income
after putting in hard labour produces meagre income or total loss during
the time of drought, leaving behind the burden to debt.
The recent initiatives by the government and also the recent leaf
forging of technological innovations can help them to resolve the
technical crisis and establish a direct linkage with the consumer
providing assured income. In this context, Centre’s initiative eNAM
(National Agriculture Market) launched in 2016 is very significant. It
is a pan India electronic trading portal which networks the existing
Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) mandis to create a
unified national market for agricultural commodities.
With 25 per cent of the country’s population between 18-29 years, it has
great potential to entice youth towards farm sector. Farming offers
young generation a chance to make a difference by growing food to meet
the hunger needs of the countrymen. The government should identify such
successful young farmers and provide media and policy support to entice
youth with the grand mission of feeding the millions with safe and
Under these circumstances we need multiple strategies that enhance the
status of the young farmer to retain on the farm. Like the slogan JAI
JAWAN, JAI KISAN, we need to coin the slogan that farmer is also a
soldier of Mother Earth protecting our soils and feeding the countrymen.