Dr. Banarsi Lal and Dr. Pawan Sharma
The task of feeding the increasing population is possible by increasing the productivity from existing land, improving the nutritional quality of farm produce to deal with problem of malnutrition without disturbing the ecosystem stability and preserving the resources for the future generations. Ensuring food security, sustaining ecosystem, promotion of agro-processing, promotion of diversification and agri-business in the context of globalization are the challenges for the agricultural scientists. Agriculture is an engine of growth and development and acts as an important contributor in national economy. The agricultural globalisation and revolution in information and communication technology have brought tremendous changes in world economic growth. The Indian agriculture is passing through an era of transition. The agricultural situation has become more competitive, knowledge based and market-led. Presently agricultural growth has not gone to the extent that it was targeted. The matter should be contemplated on imbalance of total production, national food security, rural-urban divide etc. The agricultural strategy is making strenuous efforts to increase the crop productivity, improving rural income, creating employment opportunities and making environmental security. There is a great focus on promotion of sustainable agriculture through a regionally differentiated approach, transfer of technology, increase in input use efficiency, incentives for agriculture, strengthening of infrastructure and management reforms. There is a need to develop an approach not only to develop ecologically sound technologies for different areas but also to facilitate their utilization at gross root level.
There are certain questions which should be discussed:
What problems have arisen in agricultural system?
What have been achieved in agriculture?
What should we do so that agriculture can be made more commercially viable to increase the additional income and employment?
How the research and extension systems should be integrated?
What should be the ideal extension system to deal with the agricultural problems?
Over the years, the country has tried many extension and development strategies that helped to increase the agricultural production, productivity and improved the quality of life of human beings. Community Development approach was developed after independence. The programme assured cooperative credits, land reforms, made marketing facilities, large scale irrigation projects and efficient use of resources with the help of National Extension Service agency. The main objective of Community Development programme was to bring the overall development of the rural community participation but not many good results were observed due to lack of commitment, expertise, conviction and the compelling situation of food shortages. In sixties, the agricultural production in the country was very poor and the high yielding varieties need was greatly felt and agricultural development became the only objective for rural development. Many programmes like Intensive Agricultural District Programme, Intensive Agriculture Area Programme, National Demonstration and High Yielding Varieties Programme made a progress. At that time, the only objective to increase the agricultural production by modern means such as fertilisers, assured irrigation and high yielding varieties of crops. This strategy was found unsuitable due to diverse, risk prone and complex agriculture. Although these approaches paid so good dividends but failed especially for the poor farmers. During seventies, various other programmes like Small Farmers Development Agency, Marginal Farmers and Agricultural Labour Development Agency, Drought Prone Area Programme, Integrated Rural Development Programme, Training and Visit Programme etc. were launched. The main focus was on income and employment generation in agriculture and allied sectors. Various other programmes like Operational Research Project, Krishi Vigyan Kendra and Lab to Land Programme were also launched. These entire programmes along with National Demonstration were later on merged under Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) programme. The location specific research and extension programmes were started through KVK. The KVK system is successful in dissemination of agricultural information. It has been observed that generally modern technologies did not match with the poor farmers need and resources and therefore farmers’ participation is lacking. So, farmers’ need-based and problem oriented programme was needed with the active participation of the farmers. Institution Village Linkages Programme was launched based on participatory methodology. Also National Watershed Development Programme for rainfed areas was also launched by Govt. of India with basic consideration of people’s participation. After that Agriculture Technology Management Agency using bottom-up planning was launched.
At present agricultural scenario is more confused and there is no proper extension direction and approach. Although these programmes and approaches have helped to increase the agricultural production in India but the impact of different programmes in terms of people’s participation has not been so satisfactory. All these programmes considered farming problems as individual concern and not as collective issue. The individual-oriented extension strategy has ignored the poor farmers and concentrated mainly on rich farmers. The development efforts did not trickle down to most of the farmers at the bottom level of development. Govt of India is striving hard to find fresh extension approaches to carry the agricultural development at bottom up planning. A large number of private players have entered in agricultural research and extension work. The farmer is in a state of utter confusion about how to generate more income from their small land holdings in this fastly changing competitive era. There is serious concern to work out an integrated extension approach so as to safeguard the interests of the farmers. There is need to extend agricultural gains in integrated manner to the rainfed and dry areas where the modern technology has made a limited impact. Also there is need to develop eco-friendly technologies and increase emphasis on post-harvest management, processing, value addition and entrepreneurship development on area basis to make agriculture as internationally competitive. Rural societies are complex in nature. They are mostly heterogenous and their caste, religion, gender, economic status etc. define people. This complex stratification is prohibiting factor for receiving communication and process of development. The communication methods which are designed without considering the specific interest of the various segments of heterogeneity of the rural area do not reach many sections of the rural society. The communication plan must take into account socio-economic conditions in heterogeneous rural societies for ushering change. The Community Development extension system should be adequately equipped with human power on gender basis, transport facilities, computers etc. The roles of private and public players should be delineated that which one player with what role. Krishi Vigyan Kendras should have close links with Community Development extension systems to support in agricultural development and training of extension officers. The extension system should take whole village as a unit for agricultural development. In order to correct the public and private extension system regular monitoring and evaluation should be an integral component of Community Development extension system.
( The writers are: Scientist and Head of KVK, Reasi and Scientist at KVK, Kathua (Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology-Jammu)
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