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Agricultural Extension in India: A Journey since 1952 (Part-I)

 

Agricultural Extension in India: A Journey since 1952

Kiran Yadav

(GBPUAT, Pantnagar)

     Change is the law of nature and change for better is always desirable. India has witnessed and experienced many changes in the approach before independence as well as after independence for rural development in general and agriculture development in particular. Before independence, only sporadic attempts by individuals, political leaders and social leaders were made in different parts of the country. Some of the significant efforts were made by Rabindranath Tagore at Shriniketan (1921), Spancers Hatch's work at Marthandam (1921), Firka Development scheme in Madras state (1946), Indian Village service (1948), in Bombay etc. though these projects were aimed at rural development and were locale specific yet they lacked in government support and involvement of the people. These were around individual philosophy towards rural development and gradually disappeared with time.

Reforms in Agricultural Extension: After Independence

            Immediately after independence, India faced two major problems on economic fronts namely, the grain bowls of west Punjab and East Bengal went to Pakistan. The situation was aggravated further by mass-exodus of people from across the boarder. The government of India realized the gravity of the situation and lodged a programme known as 'Grow More Food Campaign'.

     The first approach of agricultural development was community development followed with the national extension service. Though the focus of CD programme was to bring overall development of the rural community with the community participation but not many positive results were seen. In sixties, the agriculture production situation was so critical that intensification of agriculture with the use of high yielding varieties become must and agricultural development became the sole indicator and measure of rural development. The programmes such as IADP (Integrated Agriculture Development Programme), IAAP (Intensive Agriculture Area Programme), ND (National Demonstration) and HYVP (High Yielding Variety Programme) gained momentum. At this point, the sole purpose was of increasing crop yields by using modern means of production. This approach though paid good dividend, generally failed to help especially the poor farm households and reduce inequality. The emphasis was broadened from agricultural development to rural development and various programmes like SFDA (Small Farmers Development Agency), MFAL (Marginal farmers and Agricultural labor Development Agency). DPAP (Drought Prone Area Programme), IRDP (Integrated Rural Development Programme) etc. were launched during seventies. Income and employment generation in agriculture and allied areas through credit and extension support was mainly emphasized.

Transfer of Technology Approach in T&V

        The most significant development was the introduction of Training and Visit (T&V) extension management, starting in the mid-1970s. the emphasis was on the role of extension in technology transfer to encourage utilization of research results. The T&V approach was somewhat like a campaign approach and succeeded to some extent where the client's need and technology potential matched. The system was found to be too narrow in its approach and not suitable for small farmers and rain-fed areas. In between the ICAR launched its FLD programmes namely Operatioal research Project (ORP), krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVKs), Lab to Land and National demostraion (ND) with the same objectives in mind. All these programmes were later merged under the programme of KVK. The need for technology appraisal, refinement and transfer was felt and IVLP (Institutional Village Linkage Programme) based on participatory methodology was launched in selected locations in the country.

ITD Component of NATP

      The project was implemented in seven states since November, 1998. The major shift was from top-to-bottom to bottom up approach. New institutional arrangements for technology dissemination through establishment of ATMA, moving towards integrated extension delivery and addressing gender concerns in agriculture. 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.

      The Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) approach of ITD component of NATP has created significant impact on yields and incomes of farmers. It was scaled up to 252 districts under extension reforms in the country. The impact of the project has not been uniform in all the districts. However, the project suffers from weak process documentation and internal monitoring and evaluation.

Agri-Clinics-Agri-Business centers

      The entry of agricultural graduates has revolutionized the extension process. The main aim of the scheme is to provide accountable extension services to the farmers through technically trained agricultural graduates at the village level. The programme implemented jointly through SFAC and MANAGE has attracted a large number of unemployed agricultural graduates. Thus the extension has come up with a new role of agri-preneurs.

 

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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.