1. Agriculture World

Himachal Pradesh's Youth to Bring Change in Agricultural Landscape

This country's youth are uninterested in agriculture. If the current trend continues, we may not see the next generation of farmers in our country. So it is our responsibility to pass on this 'farming' legacy to our children and teach them that farming is a respectable profession that can be equally profitable if done correctly.

Shivam Dwivedi
Young Farmers of Himachal Pradesh
Young Farmers of Himachal Pradesh

Despite the numerous opportunities for growth in agriculture, most graduates seek glamorous positions in multinational corporations. In contrast, there are a few graduates who feel compelled to make positive changes in the world and pursue unconventional careers. The youth of Himachal Pradesh are in a similar situation. These students are defying all odds by pursuing Horticulture as a full-time career.

Ankit Singh Ghezta (29), a young horticulturist from Shimla's old Jubbal village, a district in Himachal Pradesh, is carving out a successful career in agribusiness.

He has a master's degree and has been working in his horticulture business for four years. "Taking up horticulture as a full-time profession was a difficult call, but it was my father who encouraged me, and taught me the basic skills it required, and gradually, I developed an interest in this field," said Singh.

"Today, I am establishing a high-density plantation on 4 hectares of land out of a total of 25 hectares, which is a modern method of increasing fruit productivity and quality." Aside from that, I'm experimenting with more fundamental yet scientific techniques like inter-stocking, grafting, notching, and so on," he added.

In addition, he claims that he is using social media and other digital platforms to expand the reach of his farms.

Lakshman Singh Ghezta, 61, encouraged his son in agriculture, saying, "According to the 2011 census, nearly 2000 farmers give up farming every day." This country's youth are uninterested in agriculture. If the current trend continues, we may not see the next generation of farmers in our country. So it is our responsibility to pass on this 'farming' legacy to our children and teach them that farming is a respectable profession that can be equally profitable if done correctly.”

Agriculture is the backbone of the Himachal Pradesh economy. According to the 2011 census, Himachal Pradesh is the only state in India where nearly 90% of the population lives in rural areas. As a result, agriculture/horticulture is clearly dependent on the state and employs roughly 70% of the total workforce.

Agriculture and its allied sectors account for approximately 13.62 percent of the total Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) in the state, according to the Economic Survey of the State 2021-2022.

Anmol Chauhan, a 29-year-old horticulturist from Kotkhai, a small village in Shimla district, began farming two years ago as a result of the COVID -19 Pandemic.

"We are becoming literate but not educated," says Chauhan, who also holds a master's degree in commerce. "Education is not just about getting a job."

He told us that the traditional belief among Himachal's mindset is that a permanent Govt job is the only respectable livelihood, and farming or self-employment is the last option for survival, which is not true.

"We as a youngster needed to change the perception of society," he continued. “We need a more scientific, technical approach because we cannot rely on labourers in the next 15 years, so we must collaborate with National-level Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to introduce agri-robots or more scientific techniques to assist farmers in growing. This allows us to immerse ourselves in the culture of agriculture tourism, which will help the tourism industry grow.”

The problem is that today's youth are unaware that this sector has evolved from producing fields and seedlings to becoming a full-fledged skill. There are numerous skills/techniques that can be learned and used to earn a living, such as grafting, pruning, bending, knowledge foilers, fertilizers, and so on.

He also stated that our government is not doing enough to promote this industry as a business or profession. Students are not taught about farming in our educational system. No school or college has ever sent its students to a field for any activity. Most importantly, there is no horticulture class in school, not even an elective, that teaches this or future generations about farming. Furthermore, our educational system teaches children that education only means getting a job, which is extremely unfortunate.

According to a 2019 study by the Himachal Pradesh Directorate of Horticulture, agriculture appears dependable: despite contributing the most to the country's GDP, agriculture employs 55% of the workforce. To achieve this goal, Agribusiness or Agri-entrepreneurship education is critical in order to genuinely encourage graduates to embrace the farming spirit.

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