In India, Using Agriculture to Make a Difference for Those Less Fortunate

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I don’t usually talk about my travels much on Facebook or this Blog, but I thought I would make an exception this time.

I’ve been fortunate to travel the world, and I’ve seen some truly strange -- and wonderful -- stuff. From the wonderful stuff category, I wanted to share with you my visit to Raisen, India this week. Raisen is about 90 minutes by car (mostly on dirt roads) from Bhopal (yes, that Bhopal; the site of terrible Union Carbide chemical accident back in 1984). Bhopal is in the center of Madhya Pradesh, a large agrarian-based state in central India (about one hour by plane south of New Delhi).

At any rate, why did I go to Raisen? More CIA business? No. An Indian business partner wanted to show me a new school they’ve sponsored to help less fortunate teens and young adults learn about agriculture. And more than that, the school actively helps its students to secure jobs. The school, which is called The Skill Development Center, helps the poorest of the poor in India; all of the students are from the lowest tier of the traditional Indian caste system (the so-called “untouchables”). Without the benefits of the school, most of these children would never be able to leave a life of chronic poverty.

A few facts about the school: There are two shifts of about 30 students each that attend classes seven days a week. Students work out of three classrooms and learn about horticulture, agricultural marketing and business etiquette. Many of the children live at the school, but many also travel miles and miles to attend class each day. Students attend the school for three months before graduating. Virtually all of the students land jobs in the local agricultural industry before they graduate.

The organization sponsoring the school is called the Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals.

In these cynical times it is so wonderful to see those more fortunate helping those in real need. To say the least, I found the visit to be a moving experience. Click HERE to see pictures of the school.

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