Grußwort - A perspective for Skill Development in the Agriculture and Food Sector

India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Growth in industries across the economy has led to a large increase in demand for skilled manpower. Therefore, it is important for India to successfully skill its young population in order to benefit from the demographic dividend. India has set ambitious medium and long term targets to skill 500 million workers by 2022. Vocational education and skill development has thus emerged as a high priority for the Government, and the past few years have seen a surge in initiatives from both Government and industry to tackle this challenge.

Institutional Framework for Skill Development:

The National Skills Development Agency (NSDA), an autonomous body with the mandate of the Indian Government, coordinates and harmonizes the skills develop-
ment efforts of the Government and the private sector to achieve the skills requirement of the Indian economy. The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has been established under the PPP mode with the intention of bringing private sector initiatives in skill development.

The NSDC has about 51 % of its equity by private sector and 49 % equity by the Government. Industry led Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) under NSDC have also been set up in high growth industry sectors to complement the existing vocational education system for the industry sector in meeting the skills needed in each sectors. The new Government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the ‘Skill India’ initiative and created a separate Ministry, named the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to take the mandate of skill development in the country forward.

Skill Development in Agriculture Sector:

The agriculture sector in India accounts for 18 % of India's GDP and employs just a little less than 50 % of the country's workforce. With the increase in population,
the demand for food and agricultural produce is increasing. Low agricultural productivity is predominantly due to inefficient Farm Management practices and losses in post-harvest handling.

90 % of current jobs in agriculture are “skill based” and only 6 % of population has received vocational training. There is thus a pronounced “skill gap” both in terms of quality and quantity, and the training infrastructure is currently not geared to meet the industry requirements. The manpower is not adequately skilled for new techno-
logies and best practices.

There are also significant shortages in the availability of managers and engineers, quality control/R&D specialists, supply chain logistic professionals, regulatory and legal experts and shop floor technicians/supervisors. The Government has set up the Agriculture Skill Council (ASC) of India in January 2013 to develop the skills in Indian agriculture, in line with global standards, with the support of industry partners.

It is working towards building capacity around the agriculture industry and bridging the gap between laboratories and farms. It has been working to upgrade skills of cultivators, agricultural labourers engaged in organised and unorganised agriculture and allied industry, namely farm inputs, procurement, supply chain, warehousing, logistics etc. and to create a human resource pool of the right size and quality.

It has been developing the skill development plan, determining skills/ competency standards and qualifications, standardising affiliation and accred itation process, executing training of trainers and promoting academics of excellence. It has been following an end to end approach on skilling and linking all stakeholders in the agriculture value chain, creating more nonagricultural jobs, making farmers as entrepreneurs through market information and linking the farm labour with wage related employment during nonfarming months.

With these efforts, farmers are getting benefited through latest farm technologies, improved quality and productivity, cost effective agronomic solutions, market access, increase in revenue, reduced wastages due to adoption of pre and post harvest practices and minimisation of logistic cost due to establishment of collection dentres near the farm gate.

The Ministry of Food Processing, for instance, has also undertaken a Skill Development initiative in consultation with National Skill Development Council and identified 7 sectors (Bakery, Dairy, Grain Processing, Poultry, Refrigeration, Packaging, Quality Control) with the help of reputed industry partners to train 10,000 persons in the next 12 months.

Indo-German Cooperation:

Under the framework of the Indo-German Joint Working Group on Agriculture, India and Germany are currently working in strengthening post-harvest infrastructure including by setting up cold chain infrastructure in India, agricultural mechanisation, live stock breading, food processing infrastructure and seed development. The area of vocational training in the agricultural sector is one of the new areas identified for cooperation.

There are a lot of market opportunities in India in this sector. Germany can support the ASC in its efforts to produce a skilled workforce in the farm sector which can adopt best practices in crop production including use of inputs, vocational training in post harvest, warehousing and cold storage. Capacity building in dairying, poultry and fisheries can also be key focus areas.

An industry-driven programme aimed at bringing talented youth into the agriculture sector for equipping them with innovative skills and entrepreneurship will be highly beneficial. India has already begun to radically reform its vocational education and training with a long term perspective as well as a coherent strategy to bridge the gap.

Germany’s VET Act provides valuable lessons for involvement of private companies into the vocational education space through a legislative basis. Provision of a legal sanction to the introduction of joint certification by Government and private institutions of skills, establishment of a National Training Fund to generate funds from private players for vocational training, etc. are the elements in the German VET system that could be implemented in India.

It would also be useful to develop imaginative schemes such as National Training Funds by charging training levies, particularly on medium and large industries, and small scale industries could also be allowed to access such funds. The Government understands that the duality principle and involvement of private companies could prove to be an agent for change in the Indian VET sector.

Vocational education and training is fast emerging as an important area of Indo-German cooperation and Germany has been one of India’s preferred partners in this field. Both countries have agreed to significantly scale up their cooperation in this area and explore new avenues for further collaboration including through PPPs.

Efforts are underway to enhance the German companies to participate in the Indian VET. Though lot of progress has been made in recent years, there is a lot more that can be done given the huge potential that remains to be fully tapped.

Vijay Gokhale
Ambassador of India to Germany




H.E. Vijay Gokhale

H.E. Vijay Gokhale is Ambassador of India to Germany.