Apart from being one of the biggest health crises to affect humanity in recent times, the COVID-19 pandemic has also led to a severe economic slowdown across the world. In India, this has also resulted in the large-scale reverse migration of people who had come from villages to cities in search of livelihoods.
This poses further economic challenges in terms of jobs and livelihoods to the suddenly increased rural population. Most livelihood opportunities in rural India are related to agriculture and forestry and are, hence, limited and seasonal in nature. Add to this the issue of a majority of agricultural/horticulture crops being perishable in a matter of days, and one is facing a major problem.
To achieve Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat or self-reliant India, improving rural livelihoods in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, animal husbandry, dairy and fishery-related activities is important. Aatmanirbhar Bharat provides opportunity for increased investment in strengthening rural infrastructure, agri-storage facilities, and promoting entrepreneurship in agriculture and allied sectors.
According to moneycontrol.com, this has the potential to make the agriculture sector not only self-reliant but also more resilient to shocks. It also has the potential to create more jobs and livelihoods opportunities for the suddenly increased rural population. The socio-economic benefits of something like this could range from reduction in post-harvest food losses to increased farmer income. It could also promote local entrepreneurship development and employment opportunities.