There is a real shortage of skilled manpower in agri sector!

Or, for undertaking consultancy business management of various new agro ventures

We are experiencing a severe shortage of people with requisite skills to work in the agri sector. To draw up strategic development projects in new crops, new agribusiness models, what is now called business plans is badly needed in agri sector.
We are interviewing almost everyday for skills. Agri university products? No use! They are underskilled. They are lowly-motivated. They yearn for a government job. Those who are retired as agri/forestry or other agri related departments are highly qualified. Ph.Ds and even foreign qualifications they show us! But what use? They have no energy to undertake innovative projects. Now, even the IIT-products come to us! MBAs? Yes!. It is a noticeable change that young people want challenging jobs too. They say they are tired of the IT jobs! What challenges, they say to us, in doing 20 hours looking at the PC screens and what is life after all! They are willing to travel, visit fields, villages, talk to villagers, willing to bring the farmers into contract farming projects, set up processing plants etc.

Now, we also hear even industry entrepreneurs talk of agri sector in a theoretical way. Mr. Arun Firodia, Chairman of Kinetic group in Pune writes in a leading business daily that every rural family can be converted into a lakhpati! Fine! But how to bring this about? All he has to say is “agri universities should create new crops, scientists advise farmers, government should give infrastructure..”

Our experience is that these things are not happening! Not in sufficient critical mass! We don’t see any momentum whatever!
Everyone seems just talking. Not doing any real entrepreneurial type “businesses”! Unless you engage people, pay, motivate, build a team, take risks no change will come! The other day the National Horticulture Board (NHB) MD, APEDA chairman were in Bangalore. All we hear is about assistance to farmers in Karnataka. So far a subsidy of Rs.4,30,000 have been provided. Peanuts! We at Vadamalai enable farmers to get few lakhs for small farm-level cultivation of new crops! Without the agri scientists knowing a thing about this new crop! Also, we not being able to hire the required skills. Why? There is no clear strategy. No public-private partnerships, the NHB has become just another bureaucratic exercise!

For these new economy agribusiness models, our agri scientists are no match. We are constantly looking for fresh talents, with the requisite personality traits etc.

No amount of class room training can match the hands-on work experience. There are millions of educated young talent registered with employment with exchanges! But there are also shortage of skilled manpower. Is this not a paradox? It is! But which minister or which agri expert think of generating the needed manpower needs of the agri/rural development sector? No one! Everybody is talking about agriculture as if it is all about talking. We have much work to do at the grass roots. That is what Vadamalai is engaged in!

It may come as news that there is a severe shortage of skilled hands in implementing many of the new and innovative agro-entrepreneurial projects. This is our personal experience. There are any number of agri scientists who had retired from government service. But they are retired for ever, it seems! They are not willing to undertake any jobs that calls for new skills.

We have been implementing so many new schemes that haven’t been tried. Say cultivating safedmusli crop. We interviewed so many agri scientists. They have held senior positions like directors of many departments, from agri to forestry etc. But they don’t have nay knowledge of new crops nor are they willing to travel and take up responsibilities for implementing the projects offshore, so to say, on clients’ lands, sites! All they can do is desk jobs! The new graduates from agri universities come from several handicaps. They first got into the agri course through some quotas. They want only government jobs. Then, some categories cant perform certain kinds of jobs. No experienced farmer or villager will respect a new inexperienced graduate! There are other social factors like caste etc. Indian villages have their own perceptions.

In private sector jobs salaries are very high. The comforts that come with air travel etc. cant be imagined from government service. But then, the past 60 years of agriculture had created any army of academic type government servants out of agri graduates!

The current talk of agri extentions services can be meaningful if only the universities are willing to place these graduates on specific projects with private agri media/consultancy companies like Vadamalai Media. This is not happening for the simple reason that the entire agri sector is dominated by government departments of various categories. There is no pressure on the part of these large number of research stations or universities or PSU type Central government-funded agri agencies to experiment, to innovate or earn their incomes through some private-public partnerships, as we suggest. There is a Principle of Dangerous Precedent! Because so far the agri departments didn’t do it, it cant do it now? There is no precedent! Yes, that is the mindset!

The Central and State governments talk of participative governance, right? What it means? The people must participate in government projects. Agriculture change is the most critical sector. The vast unemployment/underemployment, including the underemployment of the agri scientists can be ended and high productivity can be brought about in the agri sector if skills are trained.

How can you create new skills unless you engage the academic hands, the agri scientists in new and innovative agri projects?
Let us create a new set of high skilled managers, technocrats and problem solvers and solution providers in management and marketing and in sales pitch and communications, even in disseminating simple and effective information through Internet media etc. The new areas that are opening up are unlimited. The only limit is set by vested interests!

You are only raising wages to government employees. You are keeping off otherwise, able and energetic educated and independent people from participating in development projects.
So we say: Things must change. Give new on-job training to a vast pool of agriculture graduates and diploma holders. They are now underemployed or plainly engaged in some unrelated jobs. This is sheer wastage of skills. Budget allocations alone don’t create skilled manpower. It is new and innovative development strategies in agriculture that throws up opportunities for consultancies, in management and marketing and project implementation etc. These areas are now out of bounds for the agri universities and departments.

SHGs are simple remedies. We are talking of highly skilled graduates trained in several new areas of agri projects that directly creates wealth and generates high income and high salaries for a vast new pool of trained human resources. We welcome suggestions from experts.


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