The youth are engaged in a volley ball match, at the entrance of Madaar village, Udaipur.
“Youngster in village are not ready to do physical labor” says Mr. Raut*, 45. Mr Raut has spent all his life in Madaar and now teaching Hindi as a language to students at the government school. Madaar village is situated 20km north of Udaipur city.
Although agriculture provides employment to over 60% population, only 17% Gross Domestic Produce (GDP) of India is through agriculture. “The eco-system was self-sustainable, we used to grow only for ourselves and shared or bartered crops within the village,” says Mr Sharma*, 43 a resident of Madaar who runs a bus-traveler business in Udaipur. Old folks of village cherish remembering the days when they needed to earn no money for survival. Madaar has rich fertile land with abundance of water at three sides of the village. The climatic and geographical condition also supports cultivation throughout the year. Even being rich in all aspects, Madaar has seen a substantial fall in number of farmers since last two decades.
“Struggle to earn money is taking people from villages to the cities”says Mr Sharma*, resident of Madaar village
The large scale rural to urban migration has been a major contributor to rapid urbanization in India. Government has also been focusing in creating more jobs for young Indians in urban areas. These include youth from rural as well as urban parts of India. A fresh graduate looks for a source of income which is more reliable as well as one which will provide enough money to sustain the inflation rate. The uncertainty in agriculture sector forces rural youth take up option which they find more reliable to earn money. This not only increases a mass workforce shift from rural to urban areas but also negatively affects the agriculture produce.
Fortunately, the rural to urban migration in Madaar is only seen in a selective gender until now. Mostly, the men are moving out looking for stable and reliable source of income while women are still in the village. Not a proud way to achieve it, but this has open doors for women to control agriculture to earn an extra income. Lalitha*, a 44 year old women from Rathod community works on her fields in outer Madaar while her husband works in hospitality service in a well known hotel of Udaipur. She aspires to see her 2 daughters become a teacher and a doctor. Even though the women have taken up agriculture but it is seen as a secondary source of income for them as well as their children. The future generations are not even looking agriculture to be their source of income when they grow up.
This change in aspirations has not come all of a sudden, various factors have led to this change in thinking. While one of the reasons is uncertainty in the agriculture sector there are more reasons why youth is shifting away from agriculture. The men I met at the Hanuman Mandir Chowk at the core of Madaar say although the agriculture produce is good in quality as well as quantity. The market still doesn’t provide with enough cost with respect to the investment of time and money put in to produce it. More and more existing farmers are moving from conventional crops to cash crops to increase their income. This now is thus creating a need to buy wheat, rice and pulses for daily consumption which their forefathers managed to grow or bartered within the village. The producers of certain crops have become consumers for crops which are produced, processed as well transferred from other regions to Madaar. The move from conventional crops to cash crops like vegetables have undoubtedly brought in more income in the village but also has increased their dependence on market for other seeds which are part of their daily or staple food.
The issue raised by one of the folks sitting at the Mandir Chowk is about the lethargic attitude and unwillingness of hardship. Mr. Raut* says “Youngster in village are not ready to physical labor now. We never hesitated to take it (farming) up even though it demanded high amount of physical and mental work”. They believe the lifestyles of human have changed tremendously.
But the movement of youth away from agriculture as we saw is not just an aversion to shy away from hard work, but also the lack of an appropriate and sustainable reward for the same. And the jobs provided in service sector in urban areas is easier to access due to no educational requirements as such.
From uncertainty in climate, yield and selling price in agriculture sector to more rewarding and fixed income source in other sector is major reason why the village moving to the cities. It is good to have a steady and rewarding income source, everybody is looking for it but the shift is bringing a tremendous pressure on the agricultural sector. The sector needs to evolve and revive as per the market demands and hence we are in great need to bring our youth back to agriculture.
*Names have been changed to protect identity