Communication Knowledge

June 2003

Innovations in agricultural extension in India

by Rasheed Sulaiman V
National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research
Indian Council of Agricultural Research

Part 1 of 2

1 2

Contents

1.Introduction
1.1 Current status
1.2 The purpose
1.3 The approach

2.Innovations in Extension
2.1 Centrally driven changes
2.1.1 ITD component of NATP
2.1.2 Agri Clinics-Agri-Business Centres
2.2 State level innovations
2.2.1 Group approach
2.2.2 Contact centres below the block level
2.2.3 Towards more intensive trainings
2.2.4 Increasing role of private and NGO sector
2.2.5 Para Extension Workers
2.2.6 Women in agriculture
2.2.7 University role in extension
2.2.8 Accountability to farmers
2.2.9 Information technology and media

3. Central Government support to state extension-
Current Thinking

4. Lessons

5. Policy Implications

6. Potential Options for Future Support
Annexes

Abbreviations

ADP Agricultural Development Programme, Rajasthan
ANGRAU Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University, Andhra Pradesh
ANTWA Andhra Pradesh Training of Women in Agriculture and Allied Sectors
ATIC Agricultural Technology Information Centre
ATMA Agricultural Technology Management Agency
CSSWA Centrally Sponsored Scheme For Women in Agriculture
DAATTC District Agricultural Advisory and Transfer of Technology Centre
DDA Deputy Director of Agriculture
DoA Department of Agriculture
DRDA District Rural Development Agency
E-TV Eenadu Television
FAC Farmers Advisory Committees
FC Farmers Clubs
FIAC Farmers Information and Advisory Centres
FIG Farmers Interest Group
GDP Gross Domestic Product
HRD Human Resource Development
ICAR Indian Council of Agricultural Research
ICT Information and Communication Technologies
IT Information Technology
ITC Indian Tobacco Corporation
ITD Innovation in Technology Dissemination
KSK Kisan Sewa Kendra
KVK Krishi Vigyan Kendra
MANAGE National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management, Hyderabad
MAPWA Madhya Pradesh Women in Agriculture
MSSRF M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai
NATP National Agricultural Technology Project
PAFC Punjab Agro-Foodgrains Corporation, Chandigarh
PAIC Punjab Agro-Industries Corporation, Chandigarh
PAU Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana
PEW Para Extension Worker
PRI Panchayat Raj Institutions
PTD Participatory Technology Development
RMK Raita Mitra Kendra
SAMETI State level Agricultural Management and Extension Training Institute
SATCOM Satellite Communication
SAU State Agricultural University
SEWP State Extension Work Plan
SFAC Small Farmers Agri-business Consortium
SHG Self Help Group
SREP Strategic Research and Extension Plan
T and V Training and Visit System of Extension
TANWA Tamil Nadu Women in Agriculture
TEWA Training and Extension for Women in Agriculture, Orissa
TWA Training of Women in Agriculture, Gujarat
UPDASP Uttar Pradesh Diversified Agricultural Support Project
UPSLRP Uttar Pradesh Sodic Land Reclamation Project
VEO Village Extension Officer
VEW Village Extension Worker
VPDO Multipurpose Village Panchayat Development Officer
WYTEP Women and Youth Training and Extension Project, Karnataka

INNOVATIONS IN AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION IN INDIA

1. INTRODUCTION

India is a vast country with marked regional diversities in agro-climatic environment, resource endowment and population density. Agriculture (including cropping, animal husbandry, forestry and agro-forestry, fisheries and agro-industries) currently accounts for 24.7 % of the national gross domestic product (GDP) and provides employment to about 57% of the total work force. 78% of the land holdings are small (less than two hectares) and in 1991, they commanded only 33% of the total net-cropped area. Though the four fold increase in food grain production (mainly from irrigated regions) during the last four decades improved the per capita availability of food, 26.1% of the population were living below the poverty line in 1999-00. Poverty in India remains predominantly rural; three out of every four poor persons live in rural areas. Agricultural growth would continue to be an important strategy for increasing rural incomes. Indian agriculture face serious challenges because of ever-increasing population, limited land and water availability and degradation of natural resources. The national average yields of most commodities are low. In many areas there are limits to achievable increase in productivity, unless appropriate institutions that can help farmers to access information, inputs and services are strengthened, and joint action for natural resources management, marketing and processing are promoted. New opportunities (and threats) for trade in international markets have also added a new challenge for Indian farmers. Agricultural extension services (in the public as well as private sector) need to play a much larger role in assisting farmers in meeting the above challenges.

1. 1 Current status

In India agriculture is a state subject and the main extension agency is the state Department of Agriculture (DoA). All states have a separate DoA. Most of these states have a separate wing (under DoA) or a Department for Horticulture, Soil and Water Conservation and Watershed Development. Among the various line departments, DoA has the maximum number of field staff for extension. The Department of Agriculture and Co-operation of the central Ministry of Agriculture has a separate Division of Extension. Extension Division lays down major policy guidelines on extension matters and the Directorate of Extension implements specific programmes and activities. The 1980s saw most of the states embracing the World Bank funded Training and Visit (T&V) system of extension. With external support drying up, the states began to dilute the rigour of T & V system and the 90's saw many states experimenting with new extension approaches. Currently a number of organisations are providing extension services. This include, State Agricultural Universities (SAUs); Commodity Boards (spices, rubber, coconut, coffee etc); Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs); non-governmental (voluntary) organisations (NGOs); agri-business companies (dealing with seed, fertiliser, pesticides, farm machinery); media firms (print and video), etc.

1.2 The Purpose

The purpose of this exercise has been primarily to identify the current innovations in agricultural extension in different states for drawing preliminary lessons to inform planned policy reform process at the national level. The focus is on examining the broad nature of these changes in the post T and V period to draw preliminary lessons for contributing to the on-going agricultural extension reform process in India.

1.3 The Approach

The findings of this document are mainly based on a synthesis of lessons on innovations in extension delivery collected through field visits to 12 states for discussions with officials of DoA, allied departments and private extension service providers and also based on a review of administrative guidelines, internal monitoring and evaluation reports and performance appraisal reports collected from these agencies.

2. INNOVATIONS IN EXTENSION

Post T and V innovations in extension could be broadly classified into two types:

  1. Centrally driven (implications for more than one state)
  2. State specific

2.1 Centrally driven changes

The Directorate of Extension of the DAC has been supporting the states for implementing the following programmes on the following items in the IX Plan.

  1. Support to NGOs and Farmer Organisations
  2. Women in Agriculture
  3. Farmer Scientist Interaction and State/District level R-E Interfaces
  4. Exposure visit of Farmers/Extension functionaries
  5. Print media/Kisan mela support to SAUs
  6. Support for training for improving the technical competency of extension functionaries

However, the most ambitious has been the Innovations in Technology Dissemination (ITD) component of the World Bank funded National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP).

2.1.1 ITD component of NATP

The project is implemented in 7 states namely Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Orissa and Punjab since November 1998. The project provides for pilot testing the following innovations:

  1. new institutional arrangement for technology dissemination at the district level (28 districts, 4 each in 7 states) and below through establishment of Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) as an autonomous body
  2. moving towards integrated extension delivery
  3. adopting bottom-up planning procedures for setting the research-extension agenda
  4. making technology dissemination farmer driven and farmer accountable
  5. addressing gender concerns in agriculture
  6. and increasing use of information technology for effective dissemination

Programme interventions are based on a strategic research and extension plan prepared in a participatory mode. Farm Information and Advisory Centres (FIAC) are created at the block level to act as the operational arm of ATMA. A Block Technology Team (BTT), comprising technical personnel at the block level and a Farmer Advisory Committee (FAC) comprising all key stakeholders and farmers representatives are also constituted at the block level. Under the project, a state level Agricultural Management and Extension Training Institute (SAMETI) has been created in all the project states to provide training to state extension functionaries on innovative areas of project management, participatory planning, HRD and information technology.

Though the ITD component of NATP has been in implementation since 1998, ATMAs have been established in different phases across 28 districts. As a result the impact of the project has not been uniform in all the districts. A summary of performance of ATMA is given in Box 1.

Box 1. ATMA- lessons so far

  • The integrated implementation of field activities is workable but depends considerably on the state government's commitment to internalize and practice these new concepts.
  • All ATMAs have made considerable progress on diversification and intensification of different farming systems.
  • The Block Technology Teams (BTTs) and Farmer Advisory Committees (FACs) need to play a more active role in preparation of block action plans
  • Several farmer interest groups and women farmer interest groups have been formed and some of them have initiated joint activities. There is a need to involve NGOs in forming groups of farmers
  • Integrated package of exposure visit, training and demonstration has resulted in better technology adoption

The flexibility to quickly respond to training and information needs of farmers, the availability of a reasonably good untied operational budget and the participation of the farming community by way of FAC at the block level are the major factors behind the apparent success of ATMA. However the project suffers from weak process documentation and internal Monitoring and Evaluation system. There is inadequate information on utilisation of IT facility and progress in implementation of adaptive research through SAUs and KVKs.

2.1.2 Agri clinics-agri-business centres

The main aim of the scheme is to provide accountable extension services to farmers through technically trained agricultural graduates at the village level. The programme is financed through bank loans, and the central government would provide 25% of the cost as subsidy. The plan is to establish 5,000 agri-clinics to provide testing facilities, diagnostic and control services and other consultancies on a fee-for service basis. The programme implemented joinlty through SFAC and MANAGE has attracted a large number of unemployed agricultural graduates. By the end of year 2002, 15609 graduates have applied for training under this scheme. 57 institutions are involved in this massive training programme. 2853 graduates have either completed or are undergoing training and by the end of December 2002, 235 agripreneurs have started agri-clinics or agri-business centres undertaking a variety of agripreneurial activities in different parts of the country.

2.2 State level innovations

Most of the state level innovations emerged after the end of external funding for T & V system. They emerged to address the limitations of the T and V approach, the reduced funding available for extension and also in response to the changing national and state level priorities. Broadbasing extension (to include messages related to horticultural and livestock sectors) was one of the immediate response. However the performance on broadbasing has been highly uneven as the DoA has no administrative control on personnel of different line departments. Horticulture, Soil Conservation and Watershed Development wings of the DoA became separate departments or a separate directorate in many states. States such as Maharashtra subsequently merged these separate departments to provide a single window system delivery. Other major innovations include: decentralisation (extension planning and control under elected bodies at the district level); contracting NGOs for some extension activities; promotion of private extension initiatives; adoption of group approaches (instead of the earlier individual approach); the use of para extension workers (as susbstitutes for DoA field extension workers and also to increase the reach of the public sector extension system); and setting up of multi-disciplinary SAU teams at the district level. Another trend has been the formation of specific organisations (with less bureaucracy, more flexibility and wider expertise) to implement special programmes related to agricultural development. However, the functioning of state DoAs exhibit more similarities than differences and these are too glaring to leave unnoticed. This include:

  1. A strong linear hierarchy (from Commissioner/Director of agriculture at the top to Joint Directors, Deputy Directors, Assistant Directors, Agricultural Officers and Agricultural Assistant or the Village Extension worker at the village level). Each extension personnel on an average cover about 2-7 villages, except in Kerala where every village has about 3 extension personnel.
  2. Some features of T & V still continue in the organisational structure of DoA and implementation of extension programmes. The notable among them is the mechanism of research-extension linkages through monthly/bi-monthly workshops, fortnightly meetings, meeting of zonal research extension advisory committee etc. States such as Tamil Nadu still follow the permanent field visit schedule for village extension workers.
  3. Implementation of a large number of schemes (state schemes, central sector schemes, centrally sponsored schemes and externally assisted schemes) with specific targets on demonstrations, distribution of subsidised inputs and subsidies and training, leave only little time for VEWs for assisting farmers with advice on solving specific field problems.
  4. DoA has a number of farms for producing seeds and other planting materials, several training centres for training staff and farmers and labs for testing seeds, pesticides and fertilisers. Delivery of inputs such as fertilisers is an important activity of DoA in North-Eastern States like Tripura.
  5. Relatively few staff at operational level (district and below) to implement large number of programmes. Restrictions on fresh recruitment, reduction of cadre strength and deputation of staff to other departments are the main reasons for this situation. The manpower available with the Department of Horticulture in all the states is limited, with the exception of Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal.
  6. There are serious constraints on mobility of staff for implementation and monitoring of programme due to limited operational budgets
  7. DoA staff perform a very narrow extension role, limited to technology dissemination for increasing agricultural productivity.

2.2.1 Group approach

Kerala initiated the group approach to extension for rice farming in 1989 and this was subsequently extended to other crops. This approach envisaged formation of commodity groups to improve productivity and reduce cost of cultivation through collective purchase of inputs and services. To strengthen this approach, extension efforts and delivery of subsidised inputs were routed through these farmers groups. Rajasthan adopted the group approach to extension in 1992 and currently village extension workers operate mainly through kisan mandals, ie. groups of 20 farmers. Now VEO visits a revenue village and impart training to kisan mandal farmers once in a fortnight. In Andhra Pradesh, farmer clubs are formed at each village primarily to facilitate group extension. These clubs are expected to propagate developmental schemes and facilitate transfer of agricultural technology among farmers in the village. The government provides Rs.1500 to each club for its formation. VEW visit farmer clubs once in a fortnight. Himachal Pradesh is also currently forming farmer interest groups (FIGs) primarily to implement many schemes. The group approach is also an important strategy for many other agricultural programmes. For instance, the Central Sector Scheme on Women in Agriculture (CSSWA) is being implemented through women SHGs promoted through this programme. Formation of FIGs is also an important objective of ITD component of NATP.

The UPSLRP and UPDASP provide a lot of emphasis on formation of SHGs/FIGs for programme implementation. The Kerala Horticultural Development Programme (KHDP) formed SHGs of vegetable and fruit growers to help promote new technology and participatory technology development (PTD) skills, help farmers access credit and strengthen their negotiating power through collective marketing. These farmers SHGs currently control 50% of the share of the new company that has replaced the programme, namely the Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council, Kerala.

2.2.2 Contact centres below the block level

One of the difficulties with the T and V system was that a farmer could meet the VEW only once in a fortnight during his fixed village visit. The nearest office of the DoA was at the taluka or block level, which is far away from most of the villages. In response to this problem, Kerala created offices of the DoA (Krishi Bhavans) at each panchayat (roughly covering 1.3 villages in Kerala) in 1987. Maharashtra established offices of DoA at each circle level (on an average covering 44 villages) in 1998. In Karnataka, since 2000, a permanent office called Raitu Mitra Kendras (RMKs) /Farmers Contact Centres are being established at the hubli level. Currently there are 744 RMKs and roughly each cater to 36 villages. In Rajasthan, a Kisan Sewa Kendra has been established at every agricultural supervisor circle where agricultural supervior would be available every Thursday of the week to interact with farmers. 4211 KSKs have been constituted so far (roughly one for nine villages).

2.2.3 Towards more intensive trainings

The limitations of routine delivery of messages related to technologies in foodgrain production became apparent in the nineties and several efforts to provide intensive training on new technologies to large number of farmers were initiated. There are several training centres (for staff and farmers) under the different line departments. But considering the large number of farmers to be trained, the DoA has been trying to explore other facilities available with it and help of other organisations to train more number of farmers.

For instance, in Andhra Pradesh, since 2000, two farmers training and two farmer-scientist interaction meetings are organised at each of the 286 Agricultural Market Committees every year. These training programme are held in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture/Horticulture and the SAU.

In Maharashtra, efforts are currently on to establish "agri-poly clinics" in each tehsil of the state on government farms viz, taluk seed farms, trial cum demonstration centres and horticultural nurseries. Out of the 352 talukas in the state, 232 talukas have government farms and these are being converted to agro-poly clinic cum training centres. Training halls are being constructed supported with audio-visual systems and boarding facilities. These farms are also strengthened for demonstration of improved technologies and with facilities for water and soil testing and diagnosing pest and diseases from samples brought by farmers.

The Department of Horticulture in Himachal Pradesh has recently established nine developmental fruit canning units all over the State for providing community canning service to the farmers, training of the farmers in the home scale preservation of fruits and the utilization of unmarketable fruits through processing. Besides this, five Community Training Centres have been established by the Department to train villagers in fruit preservation and prepare products at the village level commercially for improving the local economy.

Two hundred sixty-one (261) Krishi Vigayan Kendras (KVKs) established with funding from ICAR are providing skill training to farmers and vocational training for rural youth. With NATP funding, 53 Zonal Agricultural Research Stations of the SAUs have been strengthened to take up the additional functions of KVKs.

2.2.4 Increasing role of private and NGO sector

The NGOs and the private sector have started to play a greater role in extension in the last two decades. There is an increasing realisation that public extension by itself cannot meet the specific needs of various regions and different classes of farmers and the draft Policy Framework for Agricultural Extension of the Ministry of Agriculture also affirms that the "policy environment will promote private and community driven extension to operate competitively, in roles that complement, supplement, work in partnerships and even substitute for public extension".

The Ministry of Agriculture has initiated a scheme "Agricultural Extension through voluntary organisations" in the year 1994-95 with a view to integrate their efforts with those of the main extension system. Initially the scheme was implemented on pilot basis by involving 14 NGOs from 8 states. The scheme was later expanded to 50 NGOs. Under this scheme NGOs are funded for documentation of farming systems at the micro level, audio-visual preparation and procurement, training and demonstrations, farmers visit to research stations, administrative support and contingencies.

The states are also encouraging the NGOs to take up extension activities. The DoA, Rajasthan initiated agricultural extension and development programmes with participation of NGOs under the World Bank assisted Agricultural Development Project (1992). Under this project the functioning of three assistant agricultural officers circles were handed over to NGOs. Many NGOs were also given grants for specific projects related to heifer development, integrated watershed development, vermi-composting etc,. These activities have been completed in 2000. Uttaranchal is currently using the services of NGOs for implementing a number of programmes related to organic agriculture. A number of programmes for self employment in compost making, mushroom production, poultry development and angora rabbit wool production are also implemented by DRDAs through NGOs. In Andhra Pradesh, farmers' organisations and NGOs are assisted to provide agricultural consultancy services to farmers. A maximum of Rs. 36,000 is provided for this purpose to NGOs at the rate of Rs.3000/- per month. Nineteen NGOs have availed this scheme in 2000-01 and 66 NGOs in 2001-02.

Farmers' organisations and producers co-operatives provide a wide range of extension support to farmers, but their presence is restricted to very few crops/commodities and specific regions. Notable among them is the Maharashtra Grape Growers Association. Extension services provided by dairy co-operatives also have been exemplary. Newspapers (especially local language dailies), farm magazines, and television media are important sources of information for farmers. Input companies, especially fertiliser firms organise several extension activities. The number of private consultancy firms providing agricultural consultancy to farmers is on an increase. Private extension initiatives by agri-business companies have been expanding in India. Notable among them are the recent efforts by several agri-business companies, such as Mahindra & Mahindra, Rallis and ITC. Mahindra and Rallis model provide an integrated service ranging from information, field visits, quality inputs, reliable access to output markets and non-exploitative and timely credit. It also reveals the increasing willingness of farmers to pay for quality services in agriculture.

Only a few states have tried to partner with the private sector in extension. The public-private partnership in Agricultural Extension in Madhya Pradesh is perhaps the most ambitious among them (Box 2).

In Karnataka, the RMKs are being planned to provide facilities in its campus for the private sector input agencies to display and sell their products. Punjab Agro-Foodgrains Corporation (PAFC), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation, has entered into agreement with private extension services providers such as Rallis and Mahindra Shubh Labh Services for contract farming in Punjab. These companies provide professional extension services to farmers, charging a nominal fee from farmers as well as PAFC.

2.2.5 Para extension workers

The increasing inability of the DoA staff to reach more number of farmers in distant villages became apparent in the nineties. Para extension workers (PEWs) belonging to the local community were selected and employed to draw down advice from the DoA staff, first in Rajasthan as part of the externally funded ADP. Rajasthan is currently continuing with this approach to supplement field extension in those areas where the DoA posts are vacant. A provision exists to pay a stipend of Rs.1000/- per month and over a period of time they are expected to levy charges for their services rendered to the farmers.

Box 2- Public-private partnerships in agricultural extension in Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh became the first state in the country and perhaps the only state in India to have a private extension policy. The policy states that the private extension would aim for cost reduction, improving the efficiency of extension system and inculcating accountability in extension services. This would be implemented in two phases. In the first phase, focus is on introduction of partial private extension services through building up private-public partnership in agricultural extension. During the second phase, which will take place gradually in long term, the focus would be on substitution of public extension by private extension.

The first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding implementation of public-private partnership in agriculture was signed by the DoA with Dhanuka group for agricultural extension in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh. Dhanuka is one of India's leading group in crop protection business. The MoU aims to work together in areas like soil testing, training, farmers tours, demonstrations, transfer of technology through cyber dhabas, agriculture fortnights, establishment of markets and providing credit facilities to farmers. The programme was formally launched in November 2001. At the district level, the DDA and the nodal officer of the group monitor and implement the programmes.

The achievements till now are as follows.

  1. Soil testing
    1. Handing over of the soil-testing laboratory in Hoshangabad to Dhanuka. DoA meets the cost
    2. of chemicals and equipment and the group employs its own staff and meet their salary costs. Government saved Rs.17 lakhs per year on salary costs
    3. Addition of 8 staff for field extension activities in the district by Dhanuka group
    4. Four fold increase in the number of samples tested
    5. Nine dealers centres of Dhanuka acting as collection centre of soil samples.
    6. Faster and timely communication of soil test results to farmers
  2. Joint planning, funding and implementation of extension programmes
    1. 24 training programmes at the district level and 107 training programmes at the block level
    2. Demonstrations-Kharif 7, Rabi 9
    3. Farm visits and demonstrations- 3678
    4. Village training- 1358
    5. Training on organic farming-21 villages
    6. Agricultural fairs- block level - 6, district level - 2

The group consider this investment as a way of improving its corporate image. Sponsorship or joint funding and implementation of extension programme provide them an opportunity to reach new customers. For the government, its participation with the group provides access to funds to supplement its limited operational budget and thereby improve programme coverage.

It is too early to draw major lessons from this initiative. However, there are two important observations. a. There is a need to educate the public sector staff at the district and block levels on the importance of partnerships and b. More serious attempts to honor the commitments in the MoU and initiate implementation of all items by both parties are also required.

The UPSLRP is presently using the kisan mitras (para extension worker) and mahila kisan mitras (women para extension workers) for farmer led extension. With the redeployment of kisan sahayaks (village extension workers of DoA) as multi-purpose village panchayat development officers (VPDOs), the whole extension system in Uttar Pradesh now currently revolves around para extension workers (kisan mitra) selected from each panchayat. There are about 52,000 kisan mitras in Uttar Pradesh and they are given training under various schemes. Kisan mitras are provided with some assistance to meet the expenditure for further training of farmers.

In Madhya Pradesh, one or two members and chairman of the permanent agricultural committee are declared as "kisan bandhus" and are trained to perform the role of master trainers. They are expected to train other farmers in the village. There are about 50,000 kisan bandhus in Madhya Pradesh.

2.2.6 Women in Agriculture

Since the 1980s, special programmes to address the information and technological needs of women farmers were initiated through the DoA in several states. These include:

  1. Danish assisted programmes in Karnataka (WYTEP, since 1982); Tamil Nadu (TANWA, 1986 to 2003); Orissa (TEWA, 1998 to 2003); Madhya Pradesh (MAPWA, 1993-2002)
  2. Dutch assisted programmes in Gujarat (TWA, 1989 to 2003); and Andhra Pradesh (ANTWA, 1994- 2007)
  3. Central Sector Scheme for Women in Agriculture (CSSWA) in one district each in 15 States (1992-2003)

Village based and institutional training, formation of farm women SHGs, and demonstrations have been a part of these women specific programmes. Performance evaluation reports reveal that these programmes have made impact in terms of improving access to information on agricultural technology, adoption of new technology and gaining benefits from their use. However the planning and implementation of these programmes could be considerably improved. Efforts are currently being made to mainstream gender in agricultural extension, whereby the General Extension System is drawn into providing services specifically to women farmers.The Ministry of Agriculture has developed a cafetaria of approaches for implementation of women in agriculture. Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh have already initiated schemes to expand the women in agriculture programme to more blocks based on the experience of CSSWA.

2.2.7 University role in extension

State Agricultural Universities in India have been playing only a limited role in field extension activities. The Directorate of Extension (of SAUs) implements and co-ordinate extension activities through its three major units, namely, Training Unit, Communication Centre and Farm Advisory services. Activities of KVKs under the SAU are also co-ordinated by the Directorate of Extension. A single window facility "Agricultural Technology Information Centre" (ATIC) is currently established in 25 SAUs with NATP funds for delivery of research products, information and other services.

But two SAUs, one in Punjab (PAU) and the other in Andhra Pradesh (ANGRAU) have expanded their extension activities to provide more comprehensive services to farmers. Punjab Agricultural University employs its own multi-disciplinary extension team in each district, engaged in adaptive research, training and consultancy. ANGRAU has established a District Agricultural Advisory and Transfer of Technology Centre (DAATTC) in all the districts, (comprising a team of 2-4 scientists of various disciplines) to refine technology, make diagnostic visits and organise field programmes in collaboration with DoA and other line departments.

2.2.8 Accountability to farmers

Efforts to make the extension system farmer driven and farmer accountable were initiated in several states. The constitutional amendments that strengthend the Panchayat Raj Insitutions (PRI) have further accelerated this trend. Many states such as Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have a separate wing for agriculture development at Zilla Parishad and block levels. Their role is mainly planning and implementation of schemes for agriculture primarily funded through district governements or Zilla Parishad. Priorities for the development of agriculture in respective villages have to be approved by the gram sabha (village assembly). Administrative control of DoA staff rests with the gram panchayat or block panchayats in those states that have implemented democratic decentralisation more seriously (West Bengal, Madhya Pradhesh, Kerala). In Madhya Pradesh, there is a permanent agricultural committee at the village level. In Maharashtra, the Agricultural Development Officer at the Zilla Parishad is Secretary to the Agricultural Committee of the district.

Agricultural Development Committees (karshika vikasana samithi) comprising farmers and elected representatives of people are constiuted at the panchayat and district levels in Kerala to advise farmers on issues related to agricultural development. In Rajasthan a Krishi Salahkar Samiti has been constituted at the Asst Agricultural Officer level to guide, monitor and evaluate the working of kisan mandals. It also scrutinises the various proposals received from kisan mandals for funding by DoA. In ATMA districts, the Farmer Advisory Committee (FAC) comprising key stakeholders and farmer representatives exert considerable influence in the preparation and scrutiny of block action plans.

2.2.9 Information Technology and Media

The widespread availability and convergence of information and communication technologies (ICTs) - computers, digital networks, telecommunication, television etc in India in recent years have led to unprecedented capacity for dissemination of knowledge and information to the rural population. The village knowledge centres initiated by the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in Pondicherry aims at building a model for the use of ICTs in meeting the knowledge and information requirement of rural families. Value addition to the raw information, use of local language (Tamil) and multi-media (to facilitate illiterate user participation) and participation of local people from the beginning are the noteworthy features of the project.

ITC has established e-chaupals, which are village internet kiosks that enable access to information on weather, market prices and scientific farm practices. Launched in June 2000, the company has so far established 1200 e-chaupals across four states (Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh). A local farmer (sanchalak), selected from the village and provided with short training runs each kiosk. Agricultural Market Committees in various states are computerised and networked at present to provide uptodate and reliable market information to farmers. Karnataka plan to provide internet facilities to all RMKs to help the staff and farmers in accessing useful farm information. Maharashtra has a more ambitious plan to set up a "virtual university for agrarian prosperity" to consolidate, process and disseminate information on various aspects of agriculture using advances in information technology.

DoA in Madhya Pradesh is currently utilising the SATCOM centres in 350 blocks to telecast live agricultural programmes every monday (3-5 PM). The system works on a one-way video-two way audio mode and farmers' querries are addressed by the experts during the programme. Teja TV in Andhra Pradesh telecasts an on-line (live) phone in programme in collaboration with DoA and ANGRAU to answer farmers' questions every day. E-TV also telecast agricultural programmes in Telegu, Kannada and Marathi languages every day.

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