GoBarefoot, a professional networking platform exclusively catering to the Development sector, by facilitating connections and exchange of ideas and information, has collaborated with Katalyst India and Third Sector Partners to present “Leadership Conversations in the Development Sector”, a series of insightful interviews conducted by Shital Kakkar Mehra, India’s leading executive presence coach and Founder at GoBarefoot. Featuring seasoned and reputed leaders from various verticals of the social sector, the series offers a peek behind the scenes and helps viewers find answers to the most pressing questions facing the sector.
Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in the development milieu but the landscape is riddled with challenges such as a lack of resources and a history of being considered a low focus zone, said Amit Kumar Singh, Ex-Country Representative, Tanager. The sector needs enablers including robust investment in seeds, infrastructure and food chains to make it a win-win for all stakeholders and strategic co-creation with partners across the corporate and government boards is the need of the hour. Change needs to be fostered at the grassroots, said Singh, while emphasising the need to look for impactful and synergised partners.
Leadership rising to meet post-Covid challenges
Over the years, social sectors, including agriculture, have evolved from a comprehensive long-term development approach to a short-term and output-oriented model focused on specific development deliverables. While the sector is bogged down by scarce resources, there is now a greater focus on hiring quality talent and meeting key performance indicators in a measurable manner. In such an evolving landscape, leaders need to be very adaptive and open to learning from global organisations and corporations. Leaders also need to take care of their employees and ensure regular communication while preparing for future eventualities. Social sector leaders usually face challenges such as a lack of grass-root experience and the resulting inability to grasp and solve underlying problems. However, there is tremendous opportunity to showcase good work and leveraging social media can help boost impact.
Proactively developing potential leaders
It is imperative that the platform and the leader complement each other. Organisations must focus on creating a brand people can be proud of. Organisations can also proactively develop leaders by offering them a safe space to grow in, while focusing on mentorship and staff development programs. Quality talent can be retained through competitive salaries and productivity perks. It is also important to figure out a robust hiring system which targets employees who have a passion to work and serve the community. Further, leaders must imbibe corporate attributes such as job security, lower vulnerability, accountability, and wider scope of work. They should also bring in more investment for skills and infrastructure development.
Factors facilitating change
There should be a strong focus on raising farmer income by the optimal utilisation of technology and minimising downsides. Agri sector start-ups are now unveiling innovative solutions such as Artificial Intelligence to ensure pest control and these entities require adequate support. Another factor that can encourage change is the liberation of the agri sector, in line with access to good resources. Technology is another enabler whose prowess was visible during the pandemic.
While concluding, Singh mentioned that it is best to start your social sector career from grass-roots as working directly with the community facilitates greater learning and exposure. Individuals should learn to find solutions and be creative while focusing on participative learning opportunities.
Read our previous conversation with Anshu Taneja, Country Director, VisionSpring here.