Despite various growth opportunities available in agriculture, most graduates search for fancy job opportunities in giant MNCs. Whereas, there are a few graduates out there, who feel the responsibility to bring sustainable changes in the world, and choose out-of-the-box careers. Similar is the case with the youth of Himachal Pradesh. These students are beating all odds and taking up Horticulture as a full-time profession.
Meet Ankit Singh Ghezta (29), a young horticulturist from old Jubbal village, a district in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh who is carving out a successful career path through agribusiness.
Ghezta is a master’s degree holder and is working towards his horticulture business for the past four years. Talking to The Statesman’s correspondent, Singh said, “Taking up horticulture as a full-time profession was a tough call, but it was my father who encouraged me, and taught me the basic skills it required and gradually, I developed an interest in this field”
“Today I am doing a High-density plantation on 4 hectares of land out of a total of 25 hectares, which is a modern way to increase the fruit productivity and quality. Apart from this, I am experimenting with more basic yet scientific techniques such as inter-stocking, grafting, notching, etc” he added.
In the video, he is showing a technique called Bending.
Adding to this, he says to increase the reach of his farms, he is taking the help of social media and different digital platforms as well.
Encouraging his son in agriculture Lakshman Singh Ghezta, a 61-years-old father said “As per the 2011 census, every day nearly 2000 farmers are giving up farming. The youth of this country is hardly interested in agriculture. If this trend continues like this, we might not be able to see the next – generation of farmers in our country. So, it’s our responsibility to pass on this ‘farming’ legacy to our children and teach them that this is like any other respectable profession and is equally profitable if done in the right manner.
Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy of Himachal Pradesh. As per the 2011 census, Himachal Pradesh is the only state in the country whose nearly 90 per cent of the population lives in rural areas. Therefore, dependency on Agriculture/ Horticulture is obvious and provides direct employment to about 70 per cent of total workers in the state.
As per the Economic Survey of the state 2021-2022, about 13.62 per cent of the total Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) comes from agriculture and its allied sectors.
Interviewing another young horticulturist, Anmol Chauhan, the 29-years -old hails from Kotkhai, a small village in Shimla district. He is a beginner and took up agriculture two years ago due to COVID -19 Pandemic situation.
Chauhan, who also holds a master’s degree in commerce, says “We are getting literate but not educated and education is not all about getting a job.”
He told us the conventional belief among Himachal’s mindset is deeply embedded in the fact that a permanent Govt job is the only respectable livelihood, and farming or self-employment is the last option to sustain in life, which is not true.
He further added, “We as a youngster needed to change the perception of the society. We need a more scientific, technical approach as we cannot rely on laborers in the next 15 years, so we need to tie up with National-level Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and introduce agri- robots or more scientific techniques which help farmers to grow. Through this, we can dwell the culture of this agriculture tourism as well which will go to boom the tourism industry as well.’
The thing is that today’s youth are not aware of the fact that this sector has not remained to yield fields and seedlings but has become a full-fledged skill. There are many skills/techniques such as grafting, pruning, bending, Knowledge foilers, fertilizers, etc that one can learn and earn a respectable livelihood.
He also said that our government is lacking to promote this sector as a business or profession. In our education system, students are not taught about farming. No school or college has ever taken their students to fields for any activity. Most importantly, there is no subject in school about horticulture, not even optional, which teaches this generation or coming generation about farming. Moreover, Our Education system teaches children that Education means getting a job only, which is very unfortunate.
Talking about his farms and the problems he has faced as a newcomer, Anmol briefed that there is always a clash between traditional and modern approaches, and this is what he faced too. For instance, recently he cut down a patch of traditional trees because of their unsymmetrical pattern & planted new spalling there, which is of course not easy for his parents to accept, but to be in competition and experimenting with new species one has to take risks he asserted with confidence.
Unless farming becomes both economically rewarding and intellectually stimulating, it is and will be difficult to attract the youth to farming, Anmol said while summarizing his thoughts.
As per the study of the Directorate of Horticulture, Himachal Pradesh 2019, Agriculture seems dependable: despite having the larger contribution to the country’s gross domestic product, 55 per cent of the workforce hails from the agriculture sector. To achieve this goal, Agribusiness or Agri- entrepreneurship education is important to genuinely encourage graduates to embrace the spirit of farming.