Did you know that India is the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses and jute, and ranks as the second largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, groundnut, vegetables, fruit and cotton?
Agriculture, with its allied sectors, is the largest source of livelihoods in India, where 70 percent of the rural households still depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood, with 82 percent of farmers being small and marginal. Jobs and career opportunities in agriculture are unorganized and informal because of the nature of this sector.
Agriculture industry in India has been segregated into 17 major sectors. They are farming, agriculture equipment, fertilizers, pesticides, warehousing, cold chain, dairy market, floriculture, fisheries, poultry and more.
The industry in India is expected to gain better momentum in the coming years due to increased investment in agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation facilities, warehousing and cold storage. Several government initiatives are also expected to help India move towards achieving the ambitious goal of doubling farm income by 2022.
Challenges in agriculture sector in India
The agriculture sector in India has been facing several challenges over the years. Some of them are – small and fragmented land-holding, procurement of seeds, manures and fertilizers irrigation facilities, social erosion among others.
- Lack of mechanization: There is an urgent need to mechanise the agricultural operations in India, so that wastage of labour force is avoided and farming is made convenient and efficient. Farmers must be encouraged to adopt technically advanced agricultural equipment in order to carry out timely and precise farm operations and to economise the agricultural production process.
- Inadequate transportation: One of the main challenges is lack of cheap and efficient means of transportation. Since many villages are not well connected with main roads and market centres, farmers are forced to sell their produce in the local markets at lower prices. Therefore, adequate and affordable transportation must be made available for the farmers.
- Inadequate storage facilities: In many rural areas, the storage facilities are completely absent or inadequate. Therefore, farmers sell their produce immediately after the harvest. This deprives them of their legitimate income. However, the governments and corporations like the Food Corporation of India (F.C.I.), the Central Warehousing Corporation (C.W.C.), etc. are engaged in storage and warehousing activities and are building up the buffer stocks.
- Agricultural credit: In India, though the rural credit scenario has undergone a significant change, money-lenders are still the largest contributor of agricultural credit. Today, there are many Central Cooperative Banks, State Cooperative Banks, Commercial Banks, Cooperative Credit Agencies and some Government Agencies are extending loans to farmers on easy terms.
- Agricultural marketing: Due to the absence of good and sustainable agricultural marketing, farmers are usually exploited by local traders and middlemen. Though the government has set up regulated markets, farmers also need to be introduced and exposed to online platforms to sell their produce.
Impact of COVID-19 on agriculture in India
India’s agricultural sector has shown resilience amid the adversities of COVID-19 induced lockdowns. According to the Economic Survey, the agriculture and allied activities clocked a growth of 3.4 per cent at constant prices during 2020-21. It is the only sector to have registered a positive growth in the first quarter during the financial year 2020–21.
However, the agriculture sector in India also faced some challenges during COVID-19 in terms of production, marketing and consumption. Though the agriculture industry did not face the challenge of labour scarcity, since many people went back to their hometowns, disruptions in supply chain was a major challenge.
The restrictions on movement disrupted the supply chains, hampering the uninterrupted flow of inputs for and outputs of agricultural activities. Supply of perishable commodities were affected more, challenging the food and nutritional security of the vulnerable sections of the society.
The COVID-19 crisis has also exposed the vulnerability of India’s agriculture and food markets. Both demand and supply shocks emphasise the need for reforms to connect farmers to markets, ensure adequate labour supplies, and create safety nets to make them more resilient.
Employment opportunities in the agriculture sector
The agriculture sector in India, being its primary sector, is the biggest employer of the country. Agriculture is a vast era and it’s not only related to farming. It is interrelated with many other departments and fields which makes it more demanding.
Aspirants can opt for a career option from any of the following areas in the field of agriculture and allied practices.
- Agricultural Research
- Agricultural Education
- Agricultural Journalism
- Services in Agriculture
- Agricultural Engineering
- Agricultural Management
While salaried jobs with various government and private sectors provide a regular income, entrepreneurship can generate handsome profits. Every farmer is a micro-entrepreneur as they take care of their own crop. Entrepreneurship opportunities in Farming and Dairy production are increasing rapidly. There are many government schemes that will provide you with loans to start your own business. There are many private banks which are also providing financial assistance for Agri entrepreneurs.
The importance of agriculture has revived back and the demand for this field will only increase making green the only hope for the future. Numerous opportunities have sprouted over time, giving young people plenty of options to pick from.
Impact of technology on agriculture
Digital technologies are helping the agriculture sector in general and farmers in particular with production, monitoring and planning. Through technological advancements in agriculture, farmers are able to improve their yields, conserve resources and identify areas of their fields that need attention.
The five disruptive agriculture technology trends in 2021 are:
- Geographic Information System (GIS)
- AI/ML and Data Science in Agriculture Technology
AI, Machine Learning (ML) and IoT sensors provide real-time data for algorithms which help in increasing agricultural efficiencies, improving crop yields and reducing food production costs. AI and ML are already showing the potential to help close the gap in anticipated food needs for an additional 2 billion people worldwide by 2050.
Benefits of technology in agriculture:
- Higher crop productivity
- Decreased use of water, fertilizers, pesticides
- Reduced impact on natural resources
- Greater efficiency and lower prices
E-commerce in Agriculture
Agri e-commerce provides an opportunity to streamline the agricultural value chain and reduce inefficiencies in the distribution of agricultural produce to the markets. Farmers and other farm-based workforce must be upskilled to sell their produce on e-commerce platforms and to use e-auction and e-payment platforms to expand their customer base and improve their income.
The impact of technology on agriculture is not complete without mentioning the AgriTech startups. AgriTech in India has become one of the booming sectors with numerous startups working with technologies like data analytics, machine learning and satellite imaging, etc. All of these technology-enabled startups are helping farmers maximise their output. Technology and digitization will help in addressing some of the critical issues in the agriculture sector like building proper infrastructure and efficient supply chain management.
Must have skills and training to launch a career in agriculture
There are several elements to the agricultural industry. So, a career in this sector can be broken down into various job types starting from technology-based to management, and also manual labour. While every division of the agricultural industry will have determined key skills that are necessary to move forward, there are a few skills which you must have irrespective of the job role that you choose in the Agriculture industry.
Here are a few must-have skills to launch a career in the agriculture industry,
- Time management
- Digital literacy
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking
- Emotional intelligence
If you have all or some of the above-given traits and basic training in agriculture offered as a Bachelor’s degree course of three to four years duration at all the agricultural universities in the country can do well in agriculture and allied fields.
In India, there are many Degrees, Diploma and Certificate courses available for agriculture and its sub-sectors. These courses will help you build the right skills that are needed to launch a career in agriculture.
With the lack of skilled workforce, staff recruitment and retention have been an increasing challenge for the agricultural sector in recent years. So, to bridge the gap between supply and demand and to provide continuous skilling to the workforce, the government has taken many steps and started various initiatives. Agriculture Skill Council (ASCI) is one such initiative by the government.
Also read: Skill2Jobs – Healthcare Industry: Skills, Training and Careers https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/skill2jobs-healthcare-industry-skills-training-and-careers/
Agriculture Skill Council (ASCI)
Agriculture Skill Council (ASCI) aims to transform Indian Agriculture through developing the skills of the country’s manpower in emerging areas of agriculture. With the development of 182 Qualification Packs, ASCI has covered many segments.
It is contributing to nation building through skill development in agriculture especially at the times when country’s agriculture is experiencing stagnant growth, exodus of quality manpower to other sectors, changing climate with increased variability in production parameters and transformations in international agriculture markets that are especially too much subsidized challenging the competitiveness of Indian Agriculture.
If you wish to build a career in the agriculture industry, then you can choose entrepreneurship or the job roles that available. However, to do so, you must first build the required skill set to get into the industry.