India needs trained people to improve productivity and to be competitive

Skill development provides the opportunity for employment and entrepreneurship which can build up world class work force. India needs trained people to face globalization, improve productivity, reduce cost and make India competitive.

Although sectors like manufacturing, services, trade and commerce have been the key indicators of India’s economic growth, agriculture still continues to be the most important sector because of the fact that the country’s sustainable growth in GDP will depend upon the sustainable development of agriculture which still employs more than 52 % of India’s population. Though agriculture’s contribution towards GDP has gone down to 14 %, still, 12.5 % of the total export earnings are due to agri-

Furthermore, by 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9.1 billion and India is expected to be the most populous country with 1.7 billion people. Improve-
ments in the seed varieties, development of high yield seeds, better irrigation, water management, and change in cropping practices have resulted in a significant increase in agricultural production in the past. All these have been possible due to positive policy support on the one hand and hard work of Indian farmers on the other hand.

However, despite this development, Indian agriculture failed to maintain its sustained growth. Public investment in agriculture has been stagnating while private investment is yet to make a presence. Although subsidy support has been increasing, still a major policy change from price based subsidy support to a technology based subsidy support is needed, without which Indian farmers are deprived from the latest technological products.

Though agriculture is a province subject, a major paradigm shift in the approach to align with central government operational guidelines is needed. Moreover, India requires a stronger synergy between the tractors and implement manufacturers. On one side tractor manufacturers are well organized and share the industry informa-
tion through their association called TMA (Tractor manufacturing Association), while on the other side the implement sector is totally unorganized and is struggling to survive.

For this reason the word “Mechanization” got replaced by “Tractorization” in India.

Opportunities beyond Tractorization

Due to population growth and limited agriculture land, enhancing agriculture productivity has become the prime focus for policy makers. Mechanization is expected to gain momentum in coming years, given the pressing needs for improving crop yield. Today, the overriding challenge in agriculture lies in “sustainable and profitable growth.“

There are several key factors for supporting mechanization in India. Despite so many intense government efforts, India’s yields for major crops are still below the global average and far below the highest standard. The average landholding size has dropped to 1.16 ha from 1.23 ha in 2005-06. The percentage of farmers with small and marginal holdings (less than 2 ha) has increased from 41.22 to 43.84 %, while that of large farmers (more than 10 ha) has fallen down from 11.49 to 10.96 % between 2005 and 2011.

Due to the increase in wage rates labor costs have risen. This trend is likely to continue due to MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) scheme and other measures to reduce dependency on farming.

Demonstrating soil preparation for potato growing

Based on climate change, a 30 % drop in yield is expected by 2050. Therefore the future of India and Indian agriculture in the world market will largely depend on its ability to cope with these challenges – which can be addressed simply by incorporating innovations and skill development in agriculture.

LEMKEN India Agro Equipment Pvt. Ltd is a 100 % owned subsidiary of LEMKEN GmbH & Co. KG, the world’s leading agro equipment manufacturer headquartered in Alpen, Germany, and has its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at Nagpur in Maharashtra. The company has been involved in taking many initiatives in the direction of skill development in agriculture.

1. Engagement with agriculture students

Every year, LEMKEN invests in many agriculture students. These students work with LEMKEN on a vocational project for four months in various departments. At LEMKEN they get trained on new technological machines and get proficient before the completion of their project. Many trainees are now working for branded companies in the organized sector. Before they complete their training at LEMKEN, they get skilled for lifetime to impart their learning’s to the field.

2. Engagement with tractor and other agriculture related companies

LEMKEN focuses on providing training to teams from various companies. Many people from different companies have participated in the trainings organized till now and have learnt more about modern practices. The objective is to elevate their skills. As tractors are the prime mover machine, farmers mostly have first interactions with tractor executives. Therefore it becomes important that those get factual advice at first instance only.

3. Engagement with agriculture experts

LEMKEN created an important platform wherein agriculture experts from across the country and LEMKEN with an experience of 232 years in seedbed preparation get an opportunity to share knowledge with each other. In 2014, LEMKEN conducted a symposium on Farm Mechanization where agriculture experts (agronomists, heads of key agriculture universities and heads from other key agriculture institutions) participated from all across the country to share their knowledge.

LEMKEN also demonstrated the advantages of technological machines versus local machines currently being used in India. Proposals to sign MOUs with some of the agriculture universities to provide trainings are currently under discussion.

4. Engagement with farmers

LEMKEN undergoes many activities to promote right technology for farmers. Field demonstrations are one of the key activities, which help farmers to understand the right usage of technology and the benefits which they can derive from them in terms of fuel saving and operational time with the result that farmers can complete their work with higher efficiency. LEMKEN attracts many farmers to get skilled for self-usage as well as for contractual farming. The high efficiency LEMKEN machines give them an opportunity to earn their livelihood working as contractors.

5. Engagement with NGO’s (Non- Government Organizations)

LEMKEN got associated with one NGO based in Nagpur for skill development activities. Education is imparted to 50 students, as well, vocational training on technological implements is provided.

Explaining the application of the Labrador subsoiler
Practical training with farmers

Arvind Kumar

Arvind Kumar is Managing Director and CEO of LEMKEN India Agro Equipment Pvt Ltd.