Entrepreneurship Development in Sonowal Kachari Autonomous Council Area of Assam for Creating Sustainable Livelihoods: Prospects, Challenges and Policy Measures
The Sonowal Kachari Autonomous Council (SKAC) area of Assam offers numerous entrepreneurial opportunities; however, growth of entrepreneurship among the Sonowal Kacharis is lacking considerably. In recent years, increased urbanization, unemployment, eco-system degradation, displacement and loss of ancestral productive lands particularly in Dibrugarh due to infrastructure development projects of extensive road and railway construction, natural gas processing, etc. have clearly affected the rural livelihood system. The present paper attempts to explore the avenues for entrepreneurship development in the SKAC area; identify the key constraints in the process and to suggest decisive policy measures. The study is qualitative in nature. An explanatory research design was adopted. The findings are primarily based on observation and interviews conducted among select farmers, rural youths and members of women Self Help Groups (SHGs). Agriculture and agriculture based economic activities like horticulture, cultivation of high-value medicinal and aromatic plants; apiculture; bamboo technology; vermicomposting and bio-fertilizer; traditional handloom; ethnic foods; and rearing livestock and poultry are the potential areas for entrepreneurship development. Lack of funds, infrastructure, necessary technical skills, knowledge of government schemes and subsidies, market and transport facilities, etc. are the major constraints. Policy framework needs to integrate various actions viz. rigorous entrepreneurial skill and capacity building training, requisite infrastructure setup, adoption of new improved technologies, access to micro-finance and insurance, developing value-added markets, and fostering women SHGs. Entrepreneurship development and income generating activities are a feasible solution for alleviating poverty, augment income, generating employment, achieving social independence and empowerment, and creating larger-scale sustainable livelihoods.
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