Rural youth – The future farmers

The growing youth population in India is an asset which needs to be used in nation building. Several developmental programmes are being implemented for the benefit of rural youth. A study was conducted in Maharashtra to understand the rural youth aspirations and the factors that can help retain them in agriculture. The findings and insights of the study could help plan appropriate strategies in retaining rural youth in agriculture.

In India, youth constitute a numerically dominant potential, resourceful and also an adventurous segment of the population. More than 50 per cent of India’s current population is below the age of 25 years and over 65 per cent up to the age of 35 years and majority of them live in rural areas. According to Indian Census, 2011, by 2022, India is set to become the world’s youngest country with 64 per cent of its population in the working-age group. It is very vital to utilize this demographic dividend and streamline the rural youth and their creative energy for nation-building.

While India should capitalize on this young pool, the investment in youth in agriculture remains minimal. There are a few youth-focused programs and very few clear samples of impact. Nevertheless, the ICAR and departments of Agriculture in many nations are recognizing the young farmers for their potential in adopting innovative and diversified farming ventures. Many young farmers are taking high-risk high returns agri-ventures like protected agriculture, precision farming, organic agriculture, floriculture, medicinal and aromatic plant cultivation, etc., which are mostly avoided by the aging farmers. These new agri-ventures need to be actively supported by the government agencies and financial institutions with skill training, financing and marketing support, for the young to pursue remunerative farming.

Young farmers and producers often have a greater capacity to adopt innovation and entrepreneurship than older adults. Several developmental programmes are being implemented by government as well as non-governmental organizations for the benefit of rural youth to attract and retain youth in rural areas, particularly in agriculture. To understand the rural youth aspirations and the factors that can help retain them in agriculture, a study was undertaken. The study was undertaken with the assumption that the findings of the study shall add to the knowledge and insight of the administrators and policy makers about the possible strategies/initiatives which can be implemented to assist communities to retain and attract youth towards agriculture.


An exploratory research design was used.  The present study was conducted in two districts of the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra state viz., Yavatmal (from Amravati revenue division) and Nagpur (from Nagpur revenue division). Three talukas from each district and five villages from each taluk were selected on the basis of the highest rural youth population. From 30 villages, a sample size of 300 rural youth were selected as respondents from these villages by using a random sampling method. The respondents belonged to the age group of 16-30 years and were engaged in agriculture farming.

 Study findings

The study findings revealed that out of the fifteen independent variables under the study, only five variables were influencing the aspiration of rural youth towards agriculture. They included education, farming experience, annual income, sources of information and social participation. The extent of contribution of these 5 variables towards rural aspirations were – education (42.60%), annual income (17.50%), social participation (01.80%), sources of information (00.90%) and farming experience (00.80%). These five variables had significant contribution in deciding rural youth aspiration towards agriculture. These results provide evidence about the important role of five significant variables in attaining higher aspirations towards agriculture.

Of the fifteen independent variables under the study, only six variables influenced the retention of rural youth in agriculture. These include education, farming experience, family occupation, annual income, economic motivation and training received. The extent of contribution of six variables towards retaining youngsters in farming were – education (43.75%), annual income (07.66%), farming experience (01.54%), economic motivation (01.16%), family occupation (01.01%), and training received (00.66%). These results provide evidence about the important role of six significant variables in attaining higher retention in agriculture.

 Conclusion and way forward

Education was observed as a prime contributing variable in the aspirations and retention of rural youth in agriculture. Income is the crucial factor to raise the aspirations and retention of rural youth in agriculture.  Personal, socio-economic, psychological and communication characteristics of rural youth were also some of the determining factors of aspirations and retention of rural youth in agriculture.

The findings of the study revealed that the majority of rural youth belonged to low-medium category of annual income. To retain such youth, support needs to be provided for setting up subsidiary agro-based enterprises like food processing, value addition, dairy, goatery, poultry, fishery, beekeeping and small scale industry, which will provide supplementary income along with agriculture income to the rural youth. Likewise, efforts should be made by government agencies to provide better knowledge and training besides supporting with credit and marketing facilities.

The training received also significantly contributed with the retention of rural youth in agriculture. Therefore, it is suggested that the rural youth must be exposed to scientific knowledge and skills by integrating different training approaches and advanced agriculture-based technologies. Rural youth can be trained for starting income-generating enterprises by the State Departments of Agriculture and other development departments in collaboration with agricultural universities.

Social participation was also found as a contributing factor for the increasing aspiration of rural youth. Therefore, suggested that there is a need to empower them with knowledge and skills through field-level extension functionaries, involving them in different social activities. The extension mechanism needs to be updated all the time about the recent developments in agriculture. Also, rural youth should be encouraged to use mass media/social media forums for agricultural and allied information.

Efforts should be made to provide subsidies as economic motivation was found to be an important variable in the retention of rural youth in agriculture. Extension agencies should motivate rural youth to increase their involvement in commercial agriculture and participation in group farming activities. It is the social processes that result in creating a positive attitude among the young generation about agriculture. It strengthens rural youth activist groups or communities that engage in the field of agriculture especially agripreneurs.


A.S. Gomase

Senior Research Assistant, Associate Dean (Instruction)

Dr. PDKV, Akola


S. Tekale

Associate Dean,

College of Agriculture, Mul, Chandrapur

Dr. PDKV, Akola- 444104, India

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