Under the Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture (ARYA) Programme of ICAR: ICAR-CIBA’s initiative on innovative student project module on brackishwater aquaculture

Farming in land or water is the noble occupation and farmers consider it as their way of life. As on day, India is self-sufficient and self-reliant in food production and also exporting food grains. However, due to less profitability and an attitudinal bias towards city based jobs participation of younger generation in farming is taking a beat. The younger generation is technology savvy and socially networked and hence the outlook of farming needs a change to catch their imagination, by providing them opportunity to get exposure with farming activities. The educated youth look at farming as a need, being a food production sector, also to understand the scope for self-employment and economic benefits. They need innovative, profitable farming modules which are inspiring, challenging and profitable to consider farming as a profession or a career. Attracting and facilitating the educated youth to farming is the only way to keep the farming in perpetuity and feed the people in the days to come.

Exposing the school students to farming systems and farming technologies is the first step to create awareness and interest among them in food production. In this backdrop ICAR - CIBA, Chennai has conceived a ‘student project module on brackishwater aquaculture’ and provided an opportunity to a group of nine higher secondary students from the Kendriya Vidyalaya School, island grounds, Chennai for a period of 7 weeks during September-October, 2017. The students learnt the basics of brackishwater aquaculture initially and were subsequently given short-term projects to study the brackishwater resources and aquaculture in brackishwater. The students, with the guidance of scientist mentors, were imparted the hands-on skills and technological inputs, followed by experimental set up to rear the fishes to have aquaculture production.

A brief interaction meeting was held on 27 October 2017 at CIBA wherein the students presented their project findings. Dr.K.K.Vijayan, Director, CIBA admiring their involvement expressed that “this initiative has given the students a feel on aquaculture and how food production is done, which most of the students were not aware off”. He added that exposing the children towards farming is tantamount to educating their family on the importance of farming. Dr.M.Muralidhar and Dr.P.K.Patil Principal Scientists and Dr.P.Kumarraj scientist guided the students in undertaking this research internship and appreciated their involvement. The students gladly said that the internship gave them the ‘attitudinal change’ towards farming and expressed that it has provided awareness on farming and its prospects. Dr.M.Kumaran, Principal Scientist and Coordinator of the programme expressed that out of the box modules and Young Farmer Credit plans are need of the hour to attract younger generation towards farming.

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