Secondary Agriculture: A Potential Solution to Migration

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

In the words of Albert Einstein, “Adversity introduces a man to himself.” An adverse situation exposes our strengths and weaknesses, invincibility and vulnerability.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed some of the vulnerabilities existing in our society. The plight of migrant workers is one of them.

The Migration

There has been a change in the structure of the rural economy for over a period of time. The sectoral share of the workforce in rural areas for agriculture reduced from 85.5% (1972-73) to about 64.1% (2011-12). The rural workforce is migrating from villages to urban areas within the state or outside the state to find work in manufacturing, construction and service sectors. But unfavourable labour laws, lack of job security, irregularity in payment of wages, low wages, low standard of living etc. have made the life of these migrant workers very difficult. So, it is the need of the hour to create some employment opportunities in their locality and one solution is secondary agriculture.

What is Secondary Agriculture

Secondary-agriculture is a productive activity that utilizes the primary products and by-products of the primary agriculture system as raw materials and also deploy locally available human resources, to maintain the production of goods and services. For example, a jaggery making unit, in the sugarcane growing area would be secondary-agriculture, but not a processing unit that procures cane molasses from other regions.

The avenues in secondary agriculture can be divided into 3 types viz:

  • Type A (avenues enhancing the production of primary agriculture systems such as nursery, food processing etc.),

  • Type B (avenues not competing for resources with the primary system & generating additional income like agro-tourism),

  • Type C (avenues based on waste generated from the primary system such as mushroom cultivation).

There is a huge potential for secondary agriculture in India. The Government of India has introduced the ‘Agri-Export Policy-2018’ to increase the agri-exports from 36 billion USD to 60 billion USD by 2022. Hence, going for export-oriented secondary agriculture activities can enhance the farm income substantially.

Stories of Success

Sahyadri farms, a Nashik based Farmer Producer Company can be considered as a role model for it which has changed the fate of 8000+ small & marginal farmers associated with it. It has emerged as the leading grape exporter of the country. The total monetary value of post-harvest losses in India is about Rs.92,651 crore per annum and our country processes only 2-3% of our total fruits & vegetables. So, there is a huge opportunity to opt for processing related secondary agriculture activities too.

Again, the changing consumption pattern has created more demand for milk, egg, meat etc. which gives us another reason to promote secondary agriculture activities like Poultry farming, rearing of calves etc.

Efforts by some dynamic individuals in this direction have yielded fruitful results. For example, Divya Rawat who is regarded as the ‘Mushroom Lady’ in Uttarakhand has utilized Mushroom farming as an effective tool to stop migration from hills to plains. She trains the youngsters about how to generate more income by cultivating mushrooms and preparing different value-added products like mushroom powder, pickles etc. She has organized the women in hills under ‘Self Help Groups’ and trained them too. She can act as a source of motivation for the youth of this country.

A Long Term Plan

India has a very favourable demographic dividend with a workforce of over 400 million. But people migrate to urban areas in search of jobs and face a wide range of problems. Hence, creating jobs in and around agriculture through secondary-agriculture activities can be a great way to utilize human resources effectively. It also provides them an opportunity for a better standard of living.

Setting up a ‘Division of Secondary Agriculture & Enterprises’ in the agriculture ministry, giving priority sector status to secondary agriculture for institutional credit, providing specialised extension services etc. can help in making secondary agriculture more successful in India!

By Ankit Mahapatra

M.Sc Research Scholar

Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi


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  3. Farm Linked Activities and Secondary Agriculture, Volume IX, Report of the Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income. (Feb, 2018). Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers’ Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India

  4. Sahyadri Farmer Producer Company claims to be the largest grape exporter in 2018-19 season (July 4, 2019). The Financial Express

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