Bikkina Poorna Srichaitanya is a farmer entrepreneur in Andhra Pradesh who has honed his skills by taking up nursery management for quality planting material on his five-acre farm. Resultantly, he is now able to develop mango, cashew, and guava grafts in a polyhouse and earn net higher returns. Then there is Dhandeep Singh, a farmer in Punjab who has learned to pack his vegetable crops of garlic and peas as per the market demand. Such value-addition practices have enabled him to realize higher prices too.
Common to the above success stories is the effort by the Government of India, in conjunction with the state governments, to nurture a vibrant ecosystem that creates a productive agricultural workforce. A critical element herein is the Skill Training of Rural Youth Programme that is implemented countrywide under the Sub-Mission on Agricultural Extension (SMAE) with the support of over 700 last-mile Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs). The objective is to create awareness about the use of appropriate technologies while imparting agri-based vocational skilling. The Agricultural Skill Council of India (ASCI) supplements these initiatives with its agricultural skill inventories and qualification packs based on common standards.
In this context, the National Policy on Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015, also recognizes the importance of aggressively skilling more than 40 percent of the workforce that is dependent for their livelihood, directly or indirectly, upon agriculture and its allied sectors. The strategy involves assessing the skill/knowledge gap, agricultural skilling areas, identifying trainee cultivators and agricultural laborers, developing interactive modules, and organizing training programs at the last mile.
The country’s horticulture production has touched 334.6 million tonnes (outstripping that of foodgrains), and there is a dire need to prevent the loss of high-value perishables such as fruits and vegetables during their transportation to the market.
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