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High Level Panel of Experts open e-consultations

Re: Promoting youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems - e-consultation on the Report’s scope, proposed by the HLPE Steering Committee

Mahesh Chander
Mahesh ChanderICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute India

While supervising Master’s & Doctoral dissertations, viz.1. Determinants of rural youth participation in farming (2014), 2. Participation of young women in agriculture: an analytical study of their involvement, attitude and aspirations (2018), 3.Gender based differential access to information among livestock owners and its impact on household milk production in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh (2006), 4. Gender perspectives in dairy production system of Rajasthan (2014), I observed:

i. Agriculture is the least preferred career option among young, particularly women in India, ii. The extension services need to be oriented to make them more responsive to younger generations of farmers especially farm women which are currently paid least attention amongst all, iii. women’s formal participation is very limited, often due to inherent gender bias coupled with lack of skills for skilled jobs, iv. Women are poorly represented in skill trainings, meetings and events meant for capacity building programmes undertaken by Research, Development & extension organizations, v. The long standing gender inequality in matters of agricultural & rural transformation can be overcome through relevant research by generating evidences towards developing right policies and programmes including extension services, vi. Skilling rural women may improve their work profile leading to their visibility and productivity in Indian agriculture, vii. Adult men often hold the title on land making them eligible for collateral/credit from the financial institutions to take up commercial activities in rural areas, viii. Women are often ignored by the financial institutions for the want of collaterals, ix. Limited association of farm women with formal institutions further limit their access to information and knowledge needed to upgrade their status and self-esteem, x. The All Women Dairy Cooperatives in India could improve their level of skills and social prestige with economic empowerment, xi. Skilled women can contribute more meaningfully in agricultural sector to bring about much needed rural transformation in India, xi. The extension services to be relevant & sustainable have to consider the aspirations and needs of younger generation of farmers especially young rural women.

We interviewed two hundred youth respondents from farming families of Kerala and Rajasthan in India, to analyze their educational and occupational aspirations and the effect of socio-cultural and economic factors on aspirations. The results revealed that only a small fraction of youth were interested in agriculture and allied industries in both of these states.

Also, I published a blog," Women, livestock and fodder trees in Central Himalayas", which a kind of my personal narration of women at my home, who face hardships in rearing animals.

Considering the importance of gender equality in matters of access to resources including farm trainings, I wrote for GFAR, Gender Inclusive Capacity Building Programmes: We Know Gender Equality Matters.

I believe, this report should address issue of the safe Spaces for youth as well…

On 12th August, 2018, we celebrated International Day of Youth and I wrote about the event that took place at my institute. The theme for International Youth Day 2018 was Safe Spaces for Youth. Youth need safe spaces where they can come together, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes and freely express themselves.

Just one little effort from our part to be part of the effort to raise awareness on challenges and problems facing the world’s youth, with energetic participation of about 85 boys and girls. Many of them had complaints against their parents, teachers and friends for poor parenting, poor teaching and not being helpful at the time of need. A few told they can do a lot better; they need just good support from their families, teachers, friends and society at large. Some were apprehensive about their future just because there were not enough government jobs to look towards. A few wanted early marriage but they can’t, just because they don’t have a government job. We were surprised to know that many girls wanted to join police force- to teach lessons to eve teasers. Their stories were reflective that eve-teasing remains one big problem in this part of the world.

They loved to express themselves because they were offered a platform to do so. Often they lack opportunities to share their free thoughts, ideas and creativity, they told. They loved it much that they got the opportunity to celebrate a day meant for them and about them. Usually no one cares for their needs & wants, only scolding’s of parents and teachers often they get, they are hardly heard by anybody, some echoed. For many, it was their first opportunity to speak up what they think. It was really a very gratifying for us that rural boys & girls could speak before an audience- the very first step to build up their confidence and raise morale.

Can we provide such opportunities? We need more youth clubs, wherein, youth can unleash their creativity and share their ideas. This report should address how best this can be done, & how fast?