Rural Entrepreneurship through Agro-Processing Industries Mrs. P. Geetha, Lecturer in Economics, Sri GVG Visalakshi College for Women, Udumalpet, TamilNadu, India In India there are about 6. 3 million villages and 340 million workers in rural unorganized sector who contribute 60% of national income. About 75% of populations who live in villages have to utilize the village resources. In rural areas mainly three types of economic activities are being undertaken. These activities are: primary, secondary and tertiary activities.

When we talk of rural development, the emphasis is on the development of agriculture, industry, trade and service sectors.

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Among these activities, agriculture till now is the main occupational activity in the rural areas as most of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood and employment. A small stimulation will dynamite the rural economy and lead to improved quality of life. Rural areas must try for better utilization of human resources to improve the rural economy. Promoting agro-based industries, cottage and small-scale industries would serve the purpose of rural entrepreneurship development.

Importance of Agro-Processing Industries Agro processing could be defined as set of techno economic activities carried out for conservation and handling of agricultural produce and to make it usable as food, feed, fibre, fuel or industrial raw material. Hence, the agro-processing industry is regarded as the sunrise sector of the Indian economy. Properly developed, agro-processing sector would not only encourage rural entrepreneurship but also can make India a major player at the global level for marketing and supply of processed food, feed and a wide range of other plant and animal products.

Categories of Agro – Industry i) Village Industries owned and run by rural households with very little capital investment and a high level of manual labour. Ex. pickles, papad, etc. ii) Small scale industry characterized by medium investment and semi-automation. Ex. edible oil, rice mills, etc. iii) Large-scale industry involving large investment and a high level of automation. Ex. Sugar, jute, cotton mills, etc Prospects The agro processing sector offers scope for development of several industries such as solvent extraction, oleoresins, kinnow/orange juice, malt extracts, floriculture and a host of other items.