Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture (ARYA)

Realizing the importance of rural youth in agricultural development of the country, the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) implemented the ARYA project to fully utilize the potential of rural youth and reverse migration.

Youth are the most vital segment of the population of a country. Youth strengthen the work force with their inherent high enthusiasm, innovative capacities. According to UNDESA (2011), the global population is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050 and the number of young people (aged 15 to 24 years) is also expected to increase to 1.3 billion by 2050, accounting for almost 14% of the projected global population. India is blessed with youth resources. However, their interest in agriculture is declining.

Involvement of youth in agricultural reform is critical to keep pace with changing global economy. Higher growth in agriculture is needed for sustainable food security of the country and the demand for food grains will increase further. To keep pace with these diverse demands, agriculture needs to be modernized and diversified. Given enough opportunities, the country can boost up the present status of agriculture by involving youth. Many young farmers engage in high-tech, high-risk and high-returns agriventures like protected agriculture, precision farming, organic agriculture, floriculture, medicinal and aromatic plants cultivation, etc., which are mostly avoided by the aging farmers.

Migration of rural youth to the cities is around 45%, which is quite alarming. The major reasons for youth moving to urban centers include: lack of basic amenities, unemployment and lack of interest in farming since agriculture suffers from several factors such as natural disasters (drought, storms, etc.), smaller land holdings (that are unable to compete against more commercialized agriculture of larger holdings) and not getting suitable market price for agriculture produce. Lack of employment opportunity for youth is one of the major global economic crises. The ripple effect of this crisis is inflation which triggers the rising of food prices, commodities and fuels.

ARYA-Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture
Realizing the importance of rural youth in agricultural development of the country, in 2015-16, the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) implemented the “Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture”, (ARYA) project. The major objective was to fully utilize the potential of rural youth under the age of 35 years in agriculture and reverse migration from urban areas to rural areas. This project is founded on the tenets of social inclusion, gender equality, and rural development that is sustainable with the following objectives.

• To attract and empower the youth in rural areas to take up various agriculture, allied, and service sector enterprises for sustainable income and gainful employment in selected districts.
• To enable the farm youth to establish network groups to take up resource and capital- intensive activities like processing, value addition, and marketing.
• To demonstrate functional linkage with different institutions and stakeholders for convergence of opportunities available under various schemes/ programs for sustainable development of youth.
• To upgrade youth capacity in specific agri-partnership model adoption.
• To establish a network group to take up resource and capital- intensive activities like processing, value addition, and marketing.

ARYA project was implemented in 25 states (one district from each state) through KVKs. Presently, there are 100 ARYA centres being implemented including 25 existing centres. KVKs involve the Agricultural Universities and ICAR Institutes as Technology Partners.

Types of rural entrepreneurship
Rural entrepreneurship can be considered as one of the solutions to reduce poverty, migration, unemployment and to develop rural areas. Choosing the best enterprise is the main basis of any successful entrepreneurship development in a particular area. Mainly, the availability of resources, raw material, labour force, and agro-ecological sustainability is the key factor for successful entrepreneurship in rural areas. Under the ARYA project, based on above criteria, different enterprises are selected at different centers like beekeeping, mushroom cultivation, post-harvest processing and value addition, fish production, seed production, vermicomposting, goatary and backyard poultry etc.

Entrepreneurship development process
Across various Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) locations, a diverse range of entrepreneurial training activities were undertaken following a step by step process.

• As per guidelines, 200 youth in the age group of 18-35 years are selected by each ARYA centre based on needs and available resources. Rural youth are identified based on bench mark survey followed by gender and socio-economic status. A district level committee is constituted to provide overall guidance in selection process of potential rural youth.
• Based on SWOT analysis of area, suitable enterprises are identified. The potential enterprises, suitable for involving rural youth, are identified.
• After selection of rural youth, need based training events are organized by the KVKs focusing on requisite technical and commercial skills.
• After skill training, KVKs support the youth in setting up enterprise and developing economic model based on market potential within the location..
• The technological backstopping as well as forward and backward linkages are facilitated by KVKs, ICAR institutes and State Agricultural Universities.
• The concurrent monitoring, evaluation and mid-term correction are integral part of project implementation with detailed evaluation process supported by committees at various levels.
• Based on systematic evaluation, the enterprise is modified and adapted to be sustainable and profitable.
• Focus is on enabling rural youth/entrepreneur to forge networks and pursue capital intensive enterprises including value chain management.
• Entrepreneurial motivation trainings are organised through guidance from competent trainers to cope and manage risks in agri businesses.

Implementation and achievements in ZONE VIII under ICAR-ATARI, Pune
In Zone VIII, Pune it was implemented initially in two KVKs (Nagpur-I in Maharashtra and Rajkot-I in Gujarat). In this zone, 73 training programmes were conducted and 1894 rural youth were trained during 2015-16 to 2018-19. In 2019-20, a total of 83 training courses were organized and 2526 youth were trained by the ARYA-KVKs. A total of 87 youth have established their entrepreneurial units. In 2019-20, ten more centres were identified and started working (In Maharashtra: Nashik-I, Osmanabad, Pune-II, Washim and Solapur-I. In Gujarat: Bhavnagar, Kheda, Navsari, Anand and Amreli). Presently, 12 KVKs are implementing the ARYA project.

Under ICAR-ATARI Zone 8, 13 potent enterprises such as nursery management, fruit and vegetable processing, organic manure production, small scale enterprises, dairy, poultry, goat rearing, fisheries, etc. Interested rural youths were enrolled for developing their micro enterprises towards regular income generation in the villages. KVKs have produced excellent examples of engaging youth in agriculture and allied sector enterprises.

Table 1: Identified Enterprises and Implementing KVKs


Name of Enterprises Implementing KVK
Nursery Raising of Vegetables and Fruits Washim, Pune-II, Osmanabad, Nagpur, Bhavnagar, Navsari
Fruit and Vegetable Processing Washim, Pune-II, Osmanabad, Nagpur, Bhavnagar, Kheda, Navsari
Organic Manure Production Solapur-I, Pune-II, Osmanabad, Bhavnagar
Goat Farming Solapur-I, Pune-II, Osmanabad
Establishment of Home Scale Pulse/ Cereal Processing Unit Kheda
Fish seed rearing Washim, Anand
Seed Production in Chick Pea Solapur-I
Backyard Poultry Farming Washim
Value addition in Sorghum  Solapur-I
Mini Oil Mill Unit  Rajkot-I
Milk-Mava making unit  Rajkot-I
Spices processing Unit  Rajkot-I
Namkeen (Farsan) making unit  Rajkot-I

Eleven youth have taken up value addition and processing in sorghum. Their value added products are being marketed with a brand name of Nutri developed by Umed, Kanchan foods, Santoshimata, Jijau Food in the local and metropolitan markets. (KVK Solapur I). Different enterprises such as nursery raising of vegetables and fruits; fruit and vegetable processing; organic manure production; goat farming and backyard poultry were taken up by rural youth. These enterprises have been very popular among rural youth and villagers for starting their commercial enterprises. (KVK Pune-II and KVK Washim). Value addition and processing with a mini oil mill unit enterprise model is a good example which spread while other enterprises like milk- mava making unit, spices processing unit and namkeen (Farsan) making unit have produced more entrepreneurial options for income generation on sustained basis. (KVK Rajkot I). Fruits and vegetables have caught the imagination of rural enterpreneurs which included raising nurseries of disease free citrus seedlings and value addition in mangoes guided by several KVKs. Fish seed rearing is another enterprise supported by KVK Anand.

Besides supporting diverse enterprises, the annual action plans of KVKs were presented and reviewed critically. Different workshops for action plan and review were conducted at zonal and national level. In nutshell, it can be realized that effort for creating a momentum to begin micro enterprises involving rural youth has been extremely successful and inspiring.

Box 1
Case 1: Vermicompost Production
Vermicompost is a nutrient-rich, natural fertilizer and soil conditioner. Vermicompost is very finely structured, uniform, stable and aggregated particles of humified organic material, with excellent porosity, aeration and water holding capacity. Vermicomposting is already being used worldwide for treatment of on farm organic waste, sewage sludge, manure, kitchen waste, etc.

For developing entrepreneurship, KVK, Solapur-I, Maharashtra, trained 25 rural youths with special focus on vermi compost production. In all, 21 youths have established their enterprises in the year 2019-20. Four youth established large scale production units having 50 to 80 ton capacity per year. Remaining youths established small scale production units having 4 to 5 ton capacity per year.

From large scale production units, an average of 70 ton vermicompost worth of Rs. 5.60 lakh was produced annually. From small scale production units, 5 ton vermi compost worth of Rs. 0.40 lakh was produced. Thus, a youth earned Rs. 5 to 5.5 lakh from large scale vermi compost unit and Rs 0.40 lakh from small scale unit annually.

Besides, earning from vermicompost production, three youths also earned from other products like earthworms and vermiwash. Thus, the sale of other products was Rs
0.80 to Rs 1.20 lakh of 3 youth per annum.

The products are being marketed to the local farmers of Solapur and Osmanabad district. The majority of the youths use the vermicompost in their own fields and are saving on the cost of chemical fertilizers while improving the quality of the product. Few youths have started own packaging facility too. Employment was generated for 39 rural youth per unit with an average employment generation of 75 days/person/ year.

Box 2
Case 2: Milk-Mava Making enterprise
Groups of 08 rural youth of Ambardi village of Jasdan taluk (Rajkot district) got benefited from ARYA project, implemented by KVK, Rajkot-1, Gujarat. The technical training programmes and exposure visits were organized to developed enterprises for milk processing, value addition and marketing.

Milk-mava making unit was established to produce high quality of Milk-Mava and milk based edible products like Penda (sweet). The objective was to earn more income from agriculture with animal husbandry. The milk-mava making machine unit costing Rs. 63,000 was provided to the 8 trained rural youths.

The milk-mava making machine was established in the year 2017 at Ambardi village. On an average, 1800 liters milk is being processed every month. Approximately, 360 kg milk-mava is produced monthly from which 110 kg milk-mava is used to prepare Penda (sweet) and remaining 250 kg milk-mava is sold to consumers, directly.

The group generated net profit of Rs. 40,500/- per month from this enterprise by selling milk-mava & penda (sweet).The enterprise is run throughout the year and 5 youth got employment of 300 days in a year. Income of each member of the group enhanced up to Rs. 50,625 per year. The group members market ‘Penda’ (sweet) with “ARYA” brand name in nearby villages and Jasdan city. Also, ‘Penda’ (sweet) as Prasad is sold in “Ghela Somanath” temple in nearby village.

Around 92 farmers/youth visited the enterprise unit and it has spread to two more villages.

This article is adapted from the original publication: ATARI-Pune (2020) ARYA: Micro Enterprises for Sustainable Income in Rural Areas. E-Publication by ICAR-ATARI, Pune, pp. 1-35 and their website

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