Technology and extension are the key determinants of productivity in agriculture, and SURYA focuses on instilling the best agronomy practices based on the region’s agro-climatic conditions. The challenge, however, lies in improving farmers’ access to the right kind of timely information and then ensuring that farmers adopt the proposed practices. AEGF successfully implements a range of models designed to improve the farming practices and livelihoods of resource-poor smallholders. To scale up these models, AEGF joins forces with various partners across seven location strains Agriculture Technology Assistants (ATA’s), who typically have some background in agriculture but are unemployed. They are trained to become extension service providers and are usually employed by agri-business companies. The scope of the program includes capacity building of rural youth as ATA’s and Agri-Entrepreneurs in addition to offering placement support and link-ups with associated companies.
SURYA is run across ten locations in India. The training is principally structured in a manner that allows students to learn through a variety of interactive ways. 65% of the students’ time is spent in a classroom, wherein they learn through communicating and collaborating, field visits, individual and group assignments, and finally, presentations. 19% of their time is invested in exposure visits, to help them better understand and operate the enterprises they set up. Finally, the last 16% of their time is spent in an AE attachment where they are required to spend time with an established Agri-Entrepreneur in order to understand the practical aspects of serving farmers. The material they cover includes topics such as the region’s agro-climate, soil health, seed and water management, weed and pest control, and the laws and regulations affecting the industry. There is also an emphasis on teaching workplace skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, use of IT and social media, workplace behaviors, and most importantly, the ability to retain a positive attitude and self-confidence through their endeavors. The training is conducted by AEGF faculty who are specifically trained to teach rural youth using numerous methodologies.
With the start of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, accessibility to in-person, classroom training became limited. To combat this issue and continue with training as per usual, an online forum was created wherein students can access the classes online. Visit the forum here.
Rural youth with high school diplomas are chosen for screening tests & interviews. If selected for the program, each ATA trainee undergoes a 45-day residential course at our centers.
The faculty, consisting of more than 20 members, conduct training sessions, and placement officers facilitate job interviews for aspiring candidates.
As of March 2020, a total of 2182 candidates, of which 452 are female (21%), have been trained.
Of the 894 candidates who interviewed for jobs, 678 (76%) have been placed in a variety of agri-allied companies.
349 candidates moved to the Agri-Entrepreneurship program, out of which 149 started their own businesses.