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World Youth Skills Day: time for collective actions

Last year, I wrote on World Youth Skills day, with an optimistic note. The World Youth Skills Day arrives yet again on 15 July 2017.

Does it mean all world’s youth become skilled hereinafter? Perhaps no, until at every level actions are taken in skilling the youth and may be collective actions are required to equip youth with income and employment securing skills.

A number of organizations, agencies and schemes across several sectors are engaged in youth skilling task in India. Over 700 million people are estimated to be of working age (24-59 years) in India by 2020. Of these, approximately 500 million workers, including those who temporarily migrate from rural to urban areas in lean agricultural seasons, will require some kind of vocational/skill training . This is a gigantic task before the government and surely government alone can’t do it, I believe. May be the collective action of various agencies could be helpful in skilling the youth in various ventures in agriculture sector.

The Government of India has launched several schemes for skilling its vast work force, especially the youth.  The major skill development scheme, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) has been approved for another four years (2016-2020) to benefit 10 million youth with allocated budget of 12,000 Crore Indian rupees (US$18612000000). The PMKVY operates through 36 sector specific skill councils. For instance, the Agriculture Sector Skill Council of India (ASCI), targets to touch/ upgrade skills of about 56.49 million of cultivators, agricultural labours and direct and indirect labour engaged in organized and unorganized agriculture industry viz, farm inputs, procurement, supply chain, warehousing / logistics etc. The ASCI has been designed to cater to the customers of the agricultural industry. Again, the ASCI on its own may not be sufficient enough in skilling many different areas within broad agricultural sector, unless it joins hand with other agencies.

In the last few months, I met some highly self motivated youth who are doing inspiring work in different aspects of agriculture. Mr.  Mahendra Kumar Gangwar, for instance, acquired mushroom cultivation skills and later established  a mushroom producer companywith  whatever  help he  could get from the government schemes. The Krishi Vigyan Kendra of ICAR- Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar  equipped him on skills needed in mushroom cultivation, while the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) assisted him in forming the producer company. He is very passionate about mushrooms and he wants to promote this new edible crop in the region where it is yet not very popular among the farmers and consumers. Mushrooms as we know are very nutritious but in short supply, hence an opportunity in providing for the youth to learn the skills needed for mushroom cultivation and earn handsome income.

Mushroom has the potential to reap high returns, especially among women and youth who may find it highly rewarding to engage in mushroom cultivation. Youth in various parts of India are taking up mushroom cultivation and finding it financially well paying.

Remembering YAP

On mushrooms, I read with great interest the YAP proposal #11 by Melano Dadalauri aged 25 from Georgia, who finds mushroom cultivation highly promising for youth ). In addition, among the YAP finalists, 28 year old Serem  Sila’s project on mushroom production in Kenya, was one of the interesting project. Mushroom cultivation is just one among the several ventures proposed by youths for YAP. Although only eight  youth could make it to the final list, several skill oriented projects submitted indicate the willingness of today’s youth to better their lives through innovative work skills. Youth are willing to learn, test/experiment and put to productive use what they learnt and tested for their livelihoods.  What is lacking, opportunities to incubate and test their ideas to make them work. Perhaps we need collective action, the kind of YAP by GFAR  and  YPARD, which was one unique project full of opportunities to youth towards making them agripreneurs. All the YAP finalists could be successful due to mentorship from GFAR.  I got motivated with the YAP project and initiated a youth mentoring  programme at my  institute to mentor 100 rural youth.

This recent update from the YAP mentee Lillian Beauttah from Kenya and other  YAPs  tells about the Year of the YAP: A Tale of Genius, Power and Magic.These YAP finalists give a clear message to the youth of the world, that they can do what they dream and believe provided they are ready to do so and begin doing it!

Looking forward to more projects like YAP coming through collective actions of many organizations beyond GFAR and YPARD .Congratulations to all youth on World Youth Skills Day. Wishing them agripreneurial successes!

Guest blog post by Mahesh Chander (drmahesh.chander(at), Head, Division of Extension Education, ICAR- Indian Veterinary Research Institute.The views expressed are personal, and cannot be attributed to ICAR or YPARD.

Photo credits: Dr Mahesh Chander


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