Context: According to the ILO School to Work Transition Survey of 2014, approximately 27.8 per cent of Nepal’s total population were young people aged between 15 and 29 years in that year. Despite improvements in education, many youth still have difficulty finding decent jobs in their country. The Survey reported the youth unemployment rate at 19.2 per cent, which is very high compared to the national unemployment rate of 2.7 per cent. The agricultural sector remains the largest employer of youth, with around 45.0 per cent of youth employed there. However, agriculture is also considered the least productive sector, with long working hours and low incomes. Thus, many young people migrate to urban areas or abroad to find employment. This contributes to the urban youth unemployment rate being higher, at 27.6 per cent, than that in rural areas (17.4 per cent).
Implementation of programme/ initiative: Prangarik Pathshala was set up by Team for Nature and Wildlife (TNW) to be Nepal’s first farmer school. TNW is a not-for-profit, non-governmental, community based organization, with a large focus on youth. The main objective of Prangarik Pathshala is to provide technical education as well as vocational training to farmers, including young women and men, so they can become commercial farmers or agro-entrepreneurs. Emphasis is on using modern technology and ICT, while being environmentally friendly and promoting sustainable commercial farming.
The initiative targets over 100,000 young agro-entrepreneurs in Nepal. It works in partnership with, and with the support of, relevant government agencies, international agencies, community based organizations, the private sector, and banking and financial institutions. The parent organization, TNW, partners with UN-Habitat, WWF and UNEP, as well as Nepalese Ministries, such as those of Science, Technology and Environment, and of Youth and Sports.
Main challenges: TNW notes that, in 2012, some 85.6 per cent of youth in Nepal were interested in starting their own business and becoming self-employed. However, an ongoing issue is that the majority of youth are not keen on land-based agro enterprises, and this often leads to youth migration to urban areas or abroad for employment. Such trends create a huge shortage of farm labour, which eventually may lead to rural food insecurity. The challenge of Prangarik Pathshala is, therefore, to attract, inspire and educate young people to become aware of the importance of the agriculture sector in Nepal. Related to this is empowering and training these young agro-entrepreneurs to enhance production, productivity and income, and improve the general livelihood of farmers.
Results achieved: Thus far, 2,517 young women and men, including smallholder farmers, have received technical education and vocational training. This has been supplemented by post-technical assistance, such as mentorship to adopt modern and commercial farming. Over 5,000 youth have made use of counselling and advisory services on agri-business development and agro-entrepreneurship. In addition, over 500 medium-sized agro-entrepreneurs have been provided with support to use modern technologies for market linkage and development. The initiative also focusses on Training of Trainers (ToT) on micro-enterprise development, through working with young social mobilizers and community leaders from different districts.
Moving Forward: Prangarik Pathshala still has a long way to go for it to reach the target of 100,000 agro-entrepreneurs in the country. Its present projects include Agriculture Based Community Development, the Youth-Entrepreneurship Scheme, and the Women-farmer Empowerment Initiative. In November 2016, Prangarik Pathshala signed an MoU with Smart Krishi, a smartphone application that provides help for every aspect of farming activities along with a large pool of relevant information on professional Nepali agriculture. With the signing of the MoU, all current and future programmes conducted by Prangarik Pathshala are being updated through this mobile application, Facebook and Instagram, with the hope of increasing the engagement of youth in agriculture.
Replicability: Prangarik Pathshala addresses the issue of youth unemployment by complementing traditional education with technical education and vocational training. The programme is particularly useful for a fundamentally agrarian-based economy, as in the case of Nepal, because it focuses on empowering and educating youth to become successful agro-entrepreneurs, or other forms of competent human resources in the agricultural sector. Nevertheless, the core idea of empowering youth with skills to secure their future and thus to secure the long-term future of society is replicable for every type of economy.
Background information: http://bikasudhyami.com/index.php/blogs/all-blogs/catalyst/blog-post-2
Prangarik Pathshala’s official website: http://agricultureschool.org/check/
Based on PowerPoint Slides prepared by BK Dalit for Asia Urban Youth Assembly (AUYA) 2017
Date: May 9, 2017