GREEN BUSINESS IDEAS IN RURAL AREAS

A lack of opportunities is driving many young Indians, who are urgently needed in rural areas, into the cities. An educational program creates new opportunities.

 

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Installation of solar panels. All Photos: (c) Christina Felschen / Welthungerhilfe

Project name

Green-Colleges-Initiative

Region

India, in the states of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa

Term

January 2016 to December 2017

Target Group

30,000 small farmers, producers and rural entrepreneurs. 80 percent belong to the tribal population, the lower castes and other marginalized groups

Education

Teaching of theory and practice in short-term (1-2 months) and longer courses (3-6 months).

Certification by the Green Colleges, long-term follow-ups and further engagement in cooperatives

 

The Indian economy has been growing at a remarkable pace for two decades, but only very few Indians have profited from the boom: only one in ten has professional training, and these are almost exclusively city dwellers. While the government subsidizes the industrial and export sectors, agriculture is left to itself. Above all, rural residents are having a hard time keeping themselves afloat with menial labor or inefficient farming, or being out of work altogether.

In rural areas, this neglect has fatal consequences. Low income, inadequate educational opportunities and high unemployment are driving young people from their villages into the slums of the big cities. Meanwhile, the rural areas are missing the people they need to make significant progress. Agricultural and forestry products are in great demand and market prices are rising - especially for processed products.

 

Providing assistance to young people in rural areas

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Sakuntala Sores (32 years old) has been breeding livestock since 2011.

This is where the Welthungerhilfe’s educational program begins. Together with four longstanding partner organizations, it has been working since 2010 to train young people between the ages of 15 and 35 in professions with a future: from silk worm breeders to solar technicians. Half of the trainees are women. The program mainly benefits members of the tribal population (Adivasi) and the lower castes (Dalits) from the poorest areas of the federal states of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa.

90 percent of people in these areas live below the national poverty line (49 cents per day). In the Sundarbans region of West Bengal, for example, only one in every five households is able to meet its daily energy needs. This is why the training project is so important. In 13 "Green Colleges" approximately 30,000 students receive intensive six-month training. The diploma is state-certified, which further increases career opportunities.

 

A green light for beginners

Six specialties in "green professions" are offered: sustainable agriculture, livestock, veterinary medicine and care, processing of agricultural and forestry products and solar technology. In addition to practical training, business planning and management are also on the agenda. In addition, the instructors assist their graduates when they begin working and providing them with advice with regard to founding their own company. With their jobs, the young people not only overcome poverty, but also command respect in their village. Particularly for women, self-employment is an important step because they traditionally move in to the house of their husband's parents and thus lose the support of their own village.

 

"Luckily we dared!"

 

This was the case for 32-year-old Sakuntala Sores. When she and her two friends decided to seek training as livestock breeders, her mother-in-law reacted skeptically. "They were reluctant to let us travel to Calcutta for the course", says Sores, who typically leaves her village only rarely. "Luckily, we dared to go anyway!" Today, the three girlfriends can provide not only for themselves, but for their families as well.

All courses encourage careful handling of natural resources. They reduce youth unemployment and strengthen village communities. The ultimate effect is to avoid depopulation, since young people who are able to develop and use their abilities at home have no reason to leave.

 

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A Project by

Welthungerhilfe

Welthungerhilfe (WHH)

Welthungerhilfe is one of the largest private aid organizations in Germany and is committed to a secure diet, the development of agriculture and the conservation of resources.

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