India is an agricultural country and the Indian economy is primarily agrarian. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “India lives in villages and agriculture is the soul of Indian economy”.The agriculture sector drives the economy and plays a major role in the Indian national income as it employs more than 50 % of the workforce. The growth of most of the Industries depends on agriculture and this primary sector is responsible for stimulating economic growth in all sectors – the industrial, tourism, or information sector.
Though as we have seen, the Indian economy depends on farmers who grow and cultivate the primary produce, they are the most marginalized in the economy. Small and marginal farmers are almost pushed out of farming. More and more farmers are leaving farming to choose other livelihood opportunities. Why? Farmland is rapidly becoming concentrated in the hands of food corporations and multi-national companies who trade in large scale volume of food commodities. These corporations are not village based, and the economic benefits reaped by these corporations do not trickle down to the primary producers – the farmers. In order to make the prices affordable for the urban consumer and for the common man, the prices paid to the farmer is kept low. Agro -processing units and other rural enterprises based in villages would not only benefit the farmer by giving them fair prices and help them diversify their sources of income, but also promote the whole rural economy. Villages are India’s backbone and increasing the rural income will reduce poverty, reduce migration to overcrowded cities, improve village infrastructure and result in overall increase in rural economy.Research studies show the qualitative growth of farmer entrepreneurship significantly impacts rural poverty. Improved rural economy plays an important role towards the overall economic growth and social growth of India.
Rural enterprises thus play a major role in utilisation of local resources and local skills, has tremendous job creation potentials, provides economic independence, provides empowerment and ensures social justice.In order to support small enterprise development as a viable pathway to sustainable livelihoods IIRD provides:
- Skill based training on agriculture (focused on organic agriculture) and its allied sectors as well as other non agriculture based vocational training
- Access to reasonable start-up capitalsdepending on the nature of the enterprise
- Supportive services like business development services and advisory services
- Market access through well established market channels and access to marketing information
- Regular monitoring visits and capacity building of the rural entrepreneur
In order to improve overall rural income IIRD has promoted more than 10,000 enterprises in agriculture and its allied sector enterprises which include small scale agri-processing units like flour and spice mills, drip irrigation and vegetable cultivation, bio input production units, improved farm productivity through organic farm production, kitchen gardening and livestock related enterprises.