Agriculture may be considered as the largest private enterprise in India which is largely dominated by small and marginal farmers. The Census of India: Economic Activity brings out that the Indian workforce is over 400 million strong, which constitutes 39.1 % of the total population of the country.
The dependence on agriculture is brought out by the fact that out of the 313 million main workers in the country, 166 million (56.6%) have been engaged in ‘Agricultural and allied activities’ of which the majority of female workers (87.3 per cent) are from the rural areas. Seeking non-farm employment had gained grounds in the recent years and about 13 million workers are reported to have shifted from agricultural sector during 2009-2012.
The shift might raise the income of agricultural workers and bridge the gulf in income between agriculture and non-agricultural sectors, but it can be considered to have detrimental effects on agriculture on the whole since agriculture is still a labour-intensive activity. This leads to an increasing importance on the role of family farming for conservation as well as sustenance.
Family Farming = Key to Rural Development
2014 was declared as the International Year of Family Farming by the United Nations, which represents a very important recognition of the multiple social, economic, environmental and cultural functions of family farming in the current century. Family Farming is generally understood to include all family-based agricultural activities, and it is linked to several areas of rural development.
It is a means of organizing agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production which is managed and functioned by a family and is predominantly reliant on family labour, including both men and women. In both developing and developed countries, family farming is the predominant form of agriculture in the food production sector.
At country level, a number of factors is primarily responsible for successful development of family farming, such as agro-ecological conditions and territorial characteristics; policy framework; access to markets, land, natural resources, technology, extensive extension services and financial institutions; demographic, economic and socio-cultural conditions; as well as availability of specialized education, among others. Hence, family farming has an important socio-economic, environmental and cultural role in developing country like India.
National Seminar on Rural Youth in Family Farming
The seminar is an attempt to bring together various stakeholders like researchers, academic institutions, industries, government agencies, NGOs and farmers to address the needs and challenges posed in the successful implementation of family farming in a holistic manner by putting an added emphasis on current trends and aspirations of youth in relation to family farming.
This event also aims to provide a forum to raise the awareness of the needs and potential of youth in family farming, along with the constraints that they face, and ensure that they have access to technical support along with the creation of synergies for sustainability. Therefore, strengthening the legitimacy of farmers’ organizations, youth clubs and their capacity to effectively represent, defending the interests of family farmers, sharing lessons learned and successful pro- family farming policies, as well as capitalizing relevant knowledge on family farming are the key features of the seminar.
The 2 days-seminar will be organized on December 18-19th, 2014 at Bihar Agricultural University, Sabour, India and it is expected to have the participation of about 500 delegates from across the nation and adjoining countries with experts on various farming technologies of interest to the youth.
Picture credit: Workers, by Jiram D.