North Bihar Conclave on Higher Education-Entrepreneurship Employability (Purnea University, Purnia)
February 11-13, 2019, Participation Report by Manish Anand – CEO, Mithila Naturals
I was invited in the above mentioned academic event as an Entrepreneur (Agripreneur) in Food Processing Sector. My thrust of intervention was very simple. Bihar is the only quality makhana or fox-nut growing state of India even though it fails to generate the job opportunities and good cash value for the youth and farmers. Why? Because Bihar does not have congenial atmosphere for the processing the raw into cooked or processed with proper sense of hygiene, cleanliness, packaging and business acumen. This is a real sad state of affair. The distant states and cities such as Delhi/NCR, Gujarat, Mumbai, Bangalore, Madhya Pradesh and others are buying the raw nuts and process them, packaging them and selling them. They are procuring from the farmers mostly in throw away prices and selling their processed items in very high rate of profit share. Not only this, it generates job opportunities for the workers, trained food professionals, agents, and several small entrepreneurs.
As a native from Bihar who has been working on the multiple possibilities to create job opportunities for the local youth to check their migration and also to create the atmosphere of entrepreneurship in the state, I am of the opinion that there is an urgent need to create an atmosphere where every stakeholder right from the agricultural labour to the farmer to business community and Government all are working together in close association with agricultural scientists, universities, institutes for the upgradation in the production of raw makhana, processing in the state itself. If it is done, it has ability to:
- Create job opportunities for the unemployed youth
- Make a group of entrepreneurs to work right from agricultural production to processing and packaging of local and indigenous food products such as makhana, maize, fisheries, dairies, and farm fresh as well as organic
- Start the cooperative farming of fox-nut and associated crops
- Start aqua culture, pisciculture, floriculture etc. using the same land and waterbody in close support with the universities, scientific institutes, agricultural departments, local scientists, fisher folk and farming communities.
- Work on the food processing and establishing a network of Research and Development (R&D) of new products with the specialists of food technology.
- Create a proper network of Self-Help-Groups (SHGs) of the farmers and link them with the Government and banking institutions.
- Interact with the local transporters for carrying and sending the raw and processed items from the farmers and to the distant places.
While speaking in the conclave, I took the opportunity to speak on following issues:
- As the much awaited initiative has been taken from the Purnia University under the dynamic leadership and excellent academic understanding of Professor Rajesh Singh, Honourable Vice Chancellor of the University, the university should start the various new courses under Entrepreneur Management Course for covering the multiple requirement of the local community and aspiring entrepreneurs such as organic farming, food processing, apiculture, floriculture, pisciculture, dairy farming and product processing, rearing of livestock, herbal farming etc.
- Attention must be paid to create the values addition by way of using the raw into processing in various items. The processing which also includes the methods and measure of preservation, up-keepment, awareness about calorie intake in each raw and processed item, benefits and limitation, so that the consumers should have choices to choose the raw and processed items according to their physical condition, age groups, gender, specific condition, diseases, allergy etc. The abovementioned issues and some other pertinent aspects also can be carefully designed and included in the syllabus.
- The world is becoming digital and online in every sphere of life. It is, therefore, essential to constitute a group of well qualified professionals to digitize every information including syllabus and contents in English and also in regional languages so that most of the people would be able to understand them easily with a scientific bent of mind.
- The digital online and offline materials and training would help the learners or future entrepreneurs to experiment the learnt knowledge for interacting with the consumers, business world and outside agencies.
- This issue has direct link with the applied community, ie., entrepreneurs, innovative farmers, traditionally skilled master fisher folk, the indigenous specialists. There should a guild of all these communities in the university. They all should be engaged as visiting faculties to share and teach their speciality. In return, the core academic fraternity should teach them the new invention and experiments. This will finally give job opportunities for the students as interns and probationary officers in the industry.
I thoroughly enjoyed attending each and every session of conclave and interacting with the participants. The city of Purnia changed for a small period as a new satellite of scientific wisdom of indigenous crops, their processing, business, entrepreneurs and farmers. I was privileged to participate in this meaningful and most pertinent academic event.
Last but not the least, I am thankful to Dr. Ajay Kumar Jha, President and CEO, Youth Lab, Colorado, USA for introducing me to the organisers of the abovementioned event.