For agriculture to transform, it’s essential that farmers are empowered with knowledge, skill and entrepreneurship

Agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy and will remain so for the next century or so. About 65 per cent of the Indian population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. However, subsistence agriculture does not generate enough income for the farmers and rural families due to which they are forced to leave this industry.

A viable model of agriculture can emerge only by connecting the farm sector to value-adding channels and the food processing industry. India can develop only when its villages develop and villages can develop only when the farmers and the rural youth prosper. Farmers and rural youth will prosper when they are empowered with the required knowledge, skill and entrepreneurship and are connected to value addition economic activities in the agri-business domain. A large network of agri-based rural micro-enterprises, owned by farmers and rural youth, needs to be established to bring prosperity to farmers/rural youth and villages.

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Just like a farmer prepares his field before sowing the seeds so as to get a good yield, we have to make the farmers and the rural youth aware about the benefits of value addition and food processing. We have to train them and give them knowledge so that they either become entrepreneurs or trained workers for the food industry. We have to also handhold them for some time so as to help them establish micro-enterprise in the rural area itself.

India's economic security is still dependent on the agriculture sector and the situation is not likely to change in the foreseeable future. Even now, agriculture supports 58 per cent of the population as against about 75 per cent during independence. In the same period, the contribution of agriculture and allied sector to the gross domestic product has fallen from 61 per cent to 19 percent.