Dr Tasneem Mubarak
12th of August is celebrated as International Youth Day every year since the UN General Assembly endorsed the recommendation that came out of the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth, in the year 1999. The theme for this year is “Youth Engagement for Global Action”, which seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people at local, national and global level is enriching national and multinational institutions and processes. The theme is highly relevant under the prevailing crisis of uncertainty and shrinking economy. A serious concern remains the increasing unemployment among youth. As per official data, 1.03 lakh unemployed youth are registered with the Government of Jammu & Kashmir. As per some estimates, the actual figure is around 2.5 lakhs, as many don’t register.
Such levels of unemployment may have very serious repercussions if suitable measures are not taken well in time. When we talk of Jammu & Kashmir the situation is no different from rest of the country but is a bit more serious due to challenges specific to the region. In these troubling times, I believe that agriculture and allied sectors have been and shall be offering opportunity to engage youth actively. For instance, there is huge potential in horticulture sector. Many entrepreneurs are coming up in high-density apple farming. Even under the new normal of social distancing, leveraging advanced technology in terms of mechanisation, infrastructure, planting material, organic/biological fertilisers and pesticides, processing and grading facility, packaging material, transportation, technical human resource and so on will help utilise the huge untapped potential in this sector both for farming and non-farming communities. This will also help in reducing rural migration and the problems associated with it.
With development and introduction of new farming practices, the otherwise disinterested youth are reverting to agriculture. There are a number of cases now where we find a new spirit of farming and a sort of competition among farmers in general and young farmers in particular. The introduction of high-density apple in the valley is gaining momentum and there is huge demand for the planting material. Horticulture farms are not in a position to meet the demand with the available resources so it becomes vital to seek private-public partnership. Collaboration would help in solving the problem of unemployment and livelihood to a great extent as we can engage our youth in the production of saplings, management of crop, and marketing. With a different set of technology required for the purpose, a trained youth force shall be needed and for that purpose SKUAST-Kashmir under the aegis of ICAR has set up a network of Krishi Vigyan Kendras (Agriculture Science Centers), one in each district. In my opinion the interested youth must register themselves with the line department and then KVK may be approached for the training of the youth. This would prove to be a wonderful collaboration for meeting our objectives. It must be made mandatory to have a training course from a reputable public or private institute. I personally believe this will help in a big way to reduce the distress the youth are going through at present. There are other allied sectors as well having great scope, for which, too, a strong collaboration is needed between the stake holders. A number of wonderful government schemes are available for which raising awareness is crucial to harvest benefits and bring all-round improvement in the society.
The writer is Sr Scientist & Head, KVK-Kulgam, SKUAST-Kashmir. [email protected]