Enliving the food bowls of cities

– a new initiative towards sustainable livelihood in villages

City’s glamour - a mirage for villagers

With the improving educational standards, a large pool of skilled but either unemployed or underemployed work force has been seasonally migrating to metropolitan cities or to the industrial belts in search of better job opportunities. This might be because of either a lack of job opportunity or lack of initiatives to open one’s own enterprise in their village. Moreover, urban India, which has seen a paradigm shift in lifestyle through communication and consumerism, might be another reason for attracting a large scale migration from rural to urban areas. This phenomenon of seasonal migration is seen especially from rural villages or remote areas in hilly areas to urban areas. This youth gets hired for labour work on contract for six to eight month either on construction sites or small factory sites or retail shops. As they leave their families back in villages, they not only suffer home sickness but they also suffer from the disparity in cost of living as many of them might be earning low wages. Moreover, this seasonal migration also puts an additional burden on cities not only in terms of the demand for food and safety but also accommodation and transport. Does anyone really take this pseudo employment figures seriously? In a largely unorganized market, do we have correct figures?

Can we attack this problem by rekindling the country's spirit -- the spirit of community entrepreneurship and social enterprise?

Can a lone warrior win?

At a glance, it wouldn't appear that India’s entrepreneurs have a problem. Entrepreneurs have been consistently contributing to the country's vibrant growth-oriented economy since its economic liberalization in 1991. Although entrepreneurship has become increasingly important in sustaining India's rapid growth, there too has been a buzz of news about start-ups and micro enterprises closing down.

Training people in rural areas can although help them in some way to generate self-employment, but as villagers lack the financial cushion there is a fear that some of them might close down if they don’t make it to the breakeven point.

The quote, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” aptly fits the current economic and social environment. It is said that the key barrier to current and aspiring entrepreneurs is the lack of a robust support system.

If the financial resources can be pooled and risk is shared, we may be able to create more sustainable enterprises. There is thus a need for creating a cluster of enterprises that can generate employment for villagers. Need is to bring out such an initiative, where people are trained and incubated till they reach a stage of self-sustenance. This can help in resolving the youth unemployment crisis. We need to study the success of AMUL dairy.

Is generation of rural entreprises a solution to it?

India has a long history of migration from rural to urban India which can be reduced only when a simultaneous focus is laid on educating and employing youth as well as creating budding entrepreneurs in villages by studying local demands for skills and goods.

Looking at the abundant availability of fresh crop and and self - trained farm labour force, community owned food processing clusters might not only help farmers get higher price for their processed crop but also provide employment to village labour. Moreover, this can help out growth of secondary enterprises or agriculture start-ups which shall depend upon these small food processing plants.

Further, if high-net-worth individuals from the corporate sector can be motivated to invest money, it can be helpful in not only creating a good rural infrastructure for enhancing vocational skills but also motivating budding entrepreneurs to try their hands on opening micro-enterprises, which might bring a positive change in the villages of India. Can this be seen as a unique experiment to create a self-sustaining social enterprise in villages?


More by :  Aniruddh Shastree

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