Youth in Agriculture Programme aims for Increased access to education and new forms of agriculture-based enterprise mean that young people can be a vital force for innovation in family farming, increasing incomes and well-being for both farmers and local communities. Young people can transform the agricultural sector in Nepal by applying new technologies and new thinking.
The agricultural sector in Nepal is the single largest employer of the manpower. Almost 67 % of people are engaged in this sector. In spite of this, the easy availability and affordability of basic inputs for the farming community are not at the optimum and ideal levels that they deserve. Engaging youth in agriculture has been a prominent topic recently and has risen up the development agenda, as there is a growing concern worldwide that young people have become disenchanted with agriculture. With most young people – around 85% – living in developing countries, where agriculture is likely to provide the main source of income it is vital that young people are connected with farming.
Data show that the average age of farmers in South Korea and Japan already exceeds 60, and even in many developing countries like Nepal, there is an exodus of rural youths to the cities, creating a shortage of manpower to even carry the sick to the hospital or dead bodies to the ghats. There are only women, children, and elderly people in many villages whereas the youth are either in the towns or in foreign countries in search of employment and opportunities for study. Among others, one of the reasons behind the rural exodus is the distraction of youths from agriculture as the image of the farmer is less than attractive.
Agriculture has an image problem. For the majority of the Nepalese youth, agriculture isn’t an attractive avenue of employment. Most youths think of it as back-breaking labor without an economic payoff and little room for career advancement. With an aging population of farmers, it’s clear that agriculture needs to attract more young people. Agriculture in the 21st century means more than subsistence farming. Agricultural is regarded as the backbone of the Nepalese economy. But agricultural development is not satisfactory. Agricultural production and productivity is low. Nepal, once a grain exporter country, but now has been a grain importer country.
“Increased access to education and new forms of agriculture-based enterprise mean that young people can be a vital force for innovation in family farming, increasing incomes and well-being for both farmers and local communities. Young people can transform the agricultural sector by applying new technologies and new thinking,”
Farming is rarely portrayed in the media as a young person’s game and can be seen as outdated, unprofitable, and hard work. Greater awareness of the benefits of agriculture as a career needs to be built amongst young people, in particular opportunities for greater market engagement, innovation, and farming as a business. The media, ICT, and social media can all be used to help better agriculture’s image across a broad audience and allow for sharing of information and experiences between young people and young farmers. Not only can ICT be used to educate and train those unable to attend higher education institutions but it can be used as a tool to help young people spread knowledge, build networks, and find employment. Catering to a technologically savvy generation will require technological solutions. Such technologies can also reduce the costs of business transactions, increasing agriculture’s profitability. Farming offers the young generation a chance to make a difference by growing enough food to feed the world. Those who become farmers now have the opportunity to be the generation that ends world hunger and alleviate malnutrition, as well as helping the sector adapt to climate change.
Increasing investment in the small farmer for integrated rural development, orientation, training and education for the youth in agriculture, ensuring access and control of the youth on land, market, credit, seeds, and other resources are necessary to change the image of farming from one that is dirty and difficult to one that is decent and highly income-generating. Furthermore, professionalism, mechanization, and commercialization of production can change the image of farming. Subsidies, insurance, grants and creation of a conducive environment are equally important to attract the new generation to this important sector.
The following measures should be taken to improve Nepalese agriculture: –
- Provide agro-training for farmers
- Run breeding programmes
- Provide micro-credits
- Establish more agro-based online marketspace
- Introduce land reform for a democratic distribution and scientific cultivation of land
- Introduce scientific irrigation facilities like thopa sichai in hilly region etc.
- Making youth accept farming as a commercial business venture;
- Generate appreciable income to meet farmers domestic and personal needs;
- Youth will improve their standard of living-through improved income.
- Youth will be motivated to stay in rural areas, as inputs will be delivered at their farm gate, on credit basis and interest free,
- Produce enough food crops, meat and fish using modem methods.
The agricultural sector faces serious problems. Despite the continuous efforts by the government, for its development the remedial measure for these problems are as follows:
- Technical improvement:
The technical production techniques help to raise the agricultural productivity. Thus the production techniques should be improved to solve the problem.
- Provisions of adequate credit:
Most of the farmers are poor. So, the provision of agricultural credit should be made available at lowest possible rate of interest to small and marginal farmers. The credit facilities through different banks and financial institutions should be expanded so that maximum numbers of farmers have easy access to credit facilities.
- Marketing and storage facilities:
The farmers have not been able to get reasonable price due to the lack of adequate marketing and storage facilities. Hence, marketing and storage facilities should be made available so that they get reasonable price.