‘COVID-19 Agri track’ mechanism to help millions of migrant workers

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The Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) office is gearing up to help millions of migrant workers in India with a ‘Covid-19 agriculture track’ mechanism, according to a report by Economic Times.

The workers have returned to their native states due to the Coronavirus-triggered nationwide lockdown and are likely to turn to agriculture for sustenance.

It will support workers with effective technological and innovative solutions to help them increase their efficiencies and farm yield, officials told ET.

According to several demographic surveys, a majority of the migrants are youngsters. So the exercise would focus on supporting such youths by making them “change agents/trained personnel” for the deployment of technical know-how in rural areas, as per the news report.

“The objective is to support the migrants and other agriculturists by providing access to scientific knowledge and innovative technologies as well as required capacity-building by involving scientists and technologists from national laboratories and academic institutions, along with their incubated startups from the supply side,” as per a written brief on the project.

Sources said the PSA’s office is seeking proposals from several quarters with respect to modern interventions in farming. It is also asking industry to recommend some scientific products which are low-cost but of high-quality.

In order to ensure sustainable farm and allied products, both agro-scientific research output and agri-technology deployment are being considered as an effective response through the Covid-19 agriculture track, officials said.

Indian states such as MP (Madhya Pradesh) and UP (Uttar Pradesh) have conducted an in-depth study on the skills of the migrant workers.

The studies found that nearly 50% of the migrants were found to be engaged in the unorganised sector in Madhya Pradesh, while 30% in construction & building activities and only 19% were involved in factories/industries.

In Uttar Pradesh, approximately 1.7 million returned migrants are unskilled labourers, as per a survey.