Why isn't youth choosing agriculture as a profession?

Would today’s youth choose agriculture as a profession? Probably not. While the recent tailwinds in technology have made agri-tech a “hot” sector, the core profession of agriculture still remains unattractive for most of India’s youth. A persistent complaint of today’s youth is that agriculture isn’t profitable enough. They’d rather spend on coaching classes for CAT, JEE or on management seats in colleges. Anything but agriculture. 

For our latest blog post, we talked to Anjan, a young farmer from Gujarat. Basically, we wanted to understand how youth perceive agriculture – mainly as a profession, but we also touched upon a few larger issues concerning agriculture, such as the role of public policymakers. Some interesting views emerged…

Anjan’s family has been involved in agriculture for the last 6 generations. A part-time helper for his family in day-to-day agriculture-related activities, Anjan himself is not a full-time farmer and is pursuing bachelors of ayurvedic medicine and surgery (BAMS). While he definitely has an interest in agriculture, he is among the majority of youth who don’t want to take up agriculture as a full-time profession. When asked how many of his friends or cousins are in agriculture, he mentioned just 3 names – Dharak, Ravi and Parth – all of who are in farming and related activities. 

Like most youth, Anjan feels that respect and earning opportunities are the two essentials that one looks for in a profession. And sadly, agriculture seems to be lacking in both. “My entire family has been in agriculture for the last so many generations. But it is not been profitable at all…” As with many other industries, the small-timers have it the hardest. Anjan continues “…Agriculture is good for those who have more than 50 Bigha land, but for those of us who have about 15 bighas, it is financially crushing. We have suffered heavy losses over the years. Naturally, my family wanted me to do something other than agriculture – they wanted me to succeed in the field I choose and do something extraordinary. I was good at studies right from my childhood and so decided to pursue MBBS. Actually, I got a seat for Rs 70 lakhs, but my family couldn’t afford it and so I finally decided to do BAMS.” 

When we read the above paragraph, there are multiple issues that spring up. Given the scope of this blogpost, we don’t want to delve into the issue of the exorbitant fee charged for MBBS. But even if we look at the agriculture aspect, there are issues at multiple levels. For a youth, the hope of achieving something great is as fundamental as any of our enshrined fundamental rights. That’s the starting point. Andy Dufresne says in the immortal movie Shawshank Redemption “Hope is a good thing; maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.” Unfortunately, hope seems to be in short supply as far as agriculture as a profession is concerned. “It is said that first impression is your last impression. And agriculture has had a bad impression on me right from the start. If there is any hope in the field, I may be somewhat inclined to take it up, given my family background. But I couldn’t find any hope, especially in our case. If we had more land, maybe I would have considered, but with 15 bighas, it is very difficult”. Anjan might as well be echoing the thoughts of 85% of the farmers in India who own less than 1 acre of land.

Would he recommend this profession to anybody? Well, you might’ve guessed the answer, but you’d probably be mistaken. “It depends on your interest and available resources if you have that spark to do innovations in this field, if you have a love for living among nature and exploring it, If you have vast lands, then definitely I would recommend you to pick agriculture as a profession.” Looks like, nothing can crush the Indian farmer’s spirit, after all. And thank heavens for that, because that is what puts food on our plates every single day. Anjan goes one step further to explain his line of thinking. “Educated farmers can be innovators. As a researcher, I can do my own research on my lands; I can do any kind of business such as organic products, which has a growing market today. For me, it was too late, but maybe others have a chance and I see some youth venturing into agriculture today.”

Well, it is this small flame of hope that we should protect, nurture and grow into a fire. Public policymakers, private sector, media, educational institutions – all of us from the various walks of life have a role to play. Says Anjan “We have a certain extent of negativity in our minds that agriculture is not fruitful and it is not without reason. However, it is time to change this mindset. Agriculture must be encouraged as a profession. Start with education and awareness. There are very few universities related to agriculture in India. Even most of the farmers are unaware of the existence of agricultural universities. For them, nature is the teacher. Look, a doctor always wants her son/daughter to be a doctor but a farmer doesn’t want her children to be farmers. There is discouragement right at the parental level, mainly because they don’t know the opportunities that lie in this field, especially for an educated farmer. Media, instead of focusing on things that only bring up TRPs, should try a bit to increase awareness about these aspects. There is only 1% that is known to people. The rest 99% of knowledge and awareness is still out of reach for the public, including farmers. This must change. There should be systemic changes in public policy  - may be give quota for farmers’ children in agriculture universities, or even free seats. Similar steps could change things in a significant way and make the statement come true: “Yes, a farmer wants his child to be a farmer nowadays!” A profession that has traditionally employed the largest number of people, I don’t think agriculture is lacking something naturally; it is external factors – be it corruption, mismanagement, lack of interest by government bodies and so on, that have contributed and accelerated its decline. And to improve the situation, we don’t have to do something extraordinary. Just remove those obstacles. You don’t have to attract butterflies to a garden, just grow flowers and they will come. Just change the scenario and so many people will come…” Anjan signs off. 

In our opinion, there should be public policies that encourage youth to take up agriculture, independent of their families engagement. Agriculture should be interesting standalone. One of the issues here is that it is very capital heavy for someone belonging to the non-agri background. Where are the jobs? Where are the big agri-tech firms? Career in agriculture is not limited to being a farmer – it can involve being an agri-engineer, dairy tech, agri biotechnology, horticulture, agronomy, agriculture economics (my personal favourite), agribusiness management and many more! Not only do these careers need to be publicised, but they also need to be attractive enough for the youth. 

Well, we definitely feel there a great degree of truth and logic to what Anjan says. What do you think? We’d love to know your thoughts. Do share them below!


  1. Great work di. What I personally feel after reading the whole content is, there is lot to do from the Center itself. I think they have to push and sell this idea. India is a agriculture based country, and if students and childrens doesn't see their future in agri, then there must be something wrong in it. I feel more number of Institutes like IIT Kharagpur, which is considered the mecca of Agri and Food enginnering should open in India. It is a youth nation and if the youth doesn't see their future in Agriculture, economy can never prosper.

  2. Very well articulated Priya. I think, in today’s times it is very difficult financially for a young person to get started in farming. There are multiple economic factors that deter young people from agriculture. Even though youth are still choosing careers in agriculture, showing people that farming is profitable business venture could help solve the aging farmer population.
    There are some areas that young farmers could have a more competitive advantage if they choose this field. Technological advances would serve as an advantage for young farmers over older and more established ones. Its time to shift the perspective towards an agribusiness from conventional agriculture and portray it as a potentially lucrative career choice.

  3. Great work. After reading this, a question came to my mind. Anjan mentions that having 50 bigha land would have made him consider continuing the profession. There might be many reasons for this, economics of scale, bargaining power with middle men, ease of obtaining governmental benefits etc. I would like to suggest a future article on contrasts experienced by small and big farmers while conducting farming activities.


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