Income generation activities such as paddy straw fodder blocks, crop residue briquettes (by using crop residues), crop produce pre-conditioning for markets (cleaning, sorting and grading of the produce), honeybee keeping, mushroom cultivation, backyard poultry, among others, that do not compete with the time that is required for various inter-cultivation activities of primary agriculture production, qualify to be defined as a secondary agriculture.
Small scale activities such as beekeeping, vermin-compost units, organic colour or dye making, mushroom spawning, silk worm breeding, nurseries, among others, would also be good examples of secondary agriculture where rural manpower, skills and locally available inputs are utilized. Any farm related activity that uses the land or labour beyond the Kharif and Rabi seasons would qualify for a ‘Secondary Agriculture’ activity.
The committee on doubling farmers’ income has suggested the Government to establish an institutional mechanism to address the issue of creating wealth from agricultural wastes and promote “secondary agriculture” as several ministries such as agriculture, petroleum, food processing and rural development are involved.
“Secondary agriculture would need to be promoted by providing enterprise level support, which can be undertaken by initial setting up of a division on Secondary Agriculture & Enterprises in all three departments of the ministry of agriculture and farmers’ welfare, and coordinate their efforts through a structured platform,” the report said.
He also said that this concept of waste is a falsity, as all output from farming is an item of value. “Waste to wealth is an artificial construct — the waste is only in the eye of the beholder that imagines waste — when actually the all farming output has inherent value. There is a need to end the perception of waste from farms and instead to view every unit of output as an opportunity to generate value,” he said in the report.
The report, quoting a research paper, also said that there is a need for a rethink on pursuing the traditional development approach of shifting workforce from agriculture to manufacturing and services.
“The manufacturing sector has not generated the anticipated number of jobs, due to a preference for capital and technology-intensive production by large industries. Various government schemes also promote industrial development that deploys emerging innovations like automation, artificial intelligence, robotics, among others, which may not be relevant in case of employment generating enterprises that need to come up at the village level,” it said.
India should instead, explore possibilities of creating blue collar jobs in and around agriculture. These can be harnessed by developing and promoting enterprises at or near farms, which are based on the output from agriculture and manage the post-harvest on-farm value addition as goods or market linking services.
Dalwai also said that breeding of racehorses, kennels, wildlife reserves, R&D centres, large pharmaceutical and agro-chemical industries, among others, would not be secondary agriculture but are a particular opportunity to farmers, as consumers of their raw material. “However, if the locally produced raw material undergoes primary processing at village level, and such value-added primary output is supplied to the industry, it is considered as secondary agriculture,” he added.
“On one front, emerging exodus of manpower from agriculture without its matching absorption into the manufacturing and service industries, triggers a need to provide alternative income generation opportunities in rural India calling for immediate focus on Secondary Agriculture,” the report said.
Krishi Jagran/New Delhi