India records a low 5 percent of workforce (20-24 years) with formal vocational skills. There is a need for speedy reorganization of the ecosystem of skill development and entrepreneurship promotion in the country to suit the needs of the industry and enable decent quality of life to its population.
Skill development and entrepreneurship efforts across the country have been highly fragmented so far. As opposed to developed countries, where the percentage of skilled workforce is between 60 percent and 90 percent of the total workforce.
If we look specifically to the agricultural sector, women being an integral part of the agricultural workforce constitute a huge number. At the same time gender inequality is a major development issue across all the developing countries in general and India in particular. It is estimated that 43 percent of world’s farmers are women.
The FAO during 2011 had reported as part of its global farm status study that, if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 20 percent to 30 percent and reduce the number of hungry persons in the world by 12-17 percent ! This holds true for India as well with the fact that women represent nearly 30 percent of the cultivators and almost half the agricultural labour force in India.
As per census 2011 out of 481.7 million total workers in the country, 118.7 million are cultivators and another 144.3 are agricultural labourers , about one in two males and two of every female workers in the country are engaged in agriculture, either as cultivator or labour. The necessity of skilling in the sector is also highlighted from the fact that agricultural share of GDP contribution is as low as 14 percent although 49 percent of the total population and 55 percent of the working population are engaged in agricultural based livelihood. India has about 161 million hectares of arable land of which 55 million is irrigated. With the increase in population there is increase in demand for food and agri produce but the supply is constant due to low agricultural productivity. The there is requirement for specific set of skills in the field of agriculture.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare and Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) to promote Skill Development in Agriculture & Allied Sectors.
The MoU was signed by Secretary(AC&FW), Secretary(DADF), Secretary(DARE) & DG(ICAR) and Secretary(MSDE) in the presence of Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Shri Parshottam Rupala, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Gajendra Singh Sekhawat, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Smt. Krishna Raj, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Anantkumar Hegde, Minister of State (Skill Development and Entrepreneurship), Senior Officers of both the Ministries and Media.
During the MOU signing ceremony, Shri Radha Mohan Singh emphasized that 690 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), Institutes of ICAR and Agricultural Universities shall be involved in imparting skill to farmers, farm women and rural youth with focus on long term training programmes of 200 hrs as per job roles developed by Agriculture Skill Council of India.
Shri Dharmendra Pradhan pointed out that agriculture sector need trained labour force in many areas like production procedures and practices, post-harvest management, value addition and food processing. As per government focus on Doubling Farmers Income, the skill development of farmers and rural youth is of paramount importance particularly in the field of seed production, marketing, cold chain, fisheries, livestock production etc .