The number of people in rural areas opting for agriculture and allied sectors has dipped by 11% to 49% during the last decade, according to a recent study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham).
The people employed in agriculture sector declined from about 261 million in 2009-10 to 231 million as of 2011-12.
This shows a prominent shift in the rural job profile, with significant reduction in proportion of workers engaged in agriculture and an increase in secondary and tertiary sectors, self-employment and in regular work.
“The number of people employed in secondary and tertiary sectors have grown significantly from about 16% and 23.5% in 1999-00 to about 24% and 27% respectively as of 2011-12,” according to the study titled ‘Structural Shift in Rural Employment’.
The rural employment pattern has undergone massive change and these changes are likely to continue in future as they are driven by high level of public and private investments in rural areas and also trickle down impact of investments in agriculture itself.
“The shift away from dependence on farm related jobs towards acquiring other skills and engaging in self-employment, trade and services should be encouraged as it would help intensify financial inclusion in rural areas and contribute to national growth,” said D S Rawat, secretary general of Assocham.
While the number of those employed in manufacturing sector have increased from about 55 million in 2009-10 to about 66 million in 2011-12, those engaged in mining has increased by one million. Number of people employed in construction sector have almost doubled and those in services sector have also increased by about 17 million.
Improved rural incomes together with high retention of girls in middle and higher schools, larger percentage of remittances from men folk working in urban and semi-urban areas signal an overall improvement in rural socio-economic system. This has lead to a fall in number of working rural women in India, which dropped from over 126 million in 2004-05 to about 106 million in 2009-10, said the study.