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INTERNAL CAPACITY BUILDING MEET AT IIM, CALCUTTA ON 14TH FEBRUARY, 2012

 INTERNAL CAPACITY BUILDING MEET

agropedia

VENUE: IIM, CALCUTTA

DATE: 14TH FEBRUARY, 2012

Participants

1.       Rahul Goswami, (Journalist, Goa)

2.       Kuntal De( Designer, Gujarat)

3.       Ravi Shankar Mantha (CEO, Agrisk, Mumbai)

4.       Shankara Pillai(CEO and Mentor, QED Research, Mumbai)

5.       Krishanu Rakshit (IIM, Calcutta)

6.       T V Prabhakar (IIT, Kanpur)

7.       Suneel(IIT, Kanpur)

8.       Sharwan (IIT, Kanpur)

9.       Runa Sarkar(IIM, Calcutta)

10.     Koyel Khan (IIM, Calcutta)

11.     Debaleena Dutta (IIM, Calcutta)

12.     Amrita Pramanick (IIM, Calcutta)

The workshop was conducted at IIM, Calcutta, in order to fit in all the disjoint components (till now) into a meaningful whole.  Precisely, the target was to give an elucidation of the vision  and progress of the project, and call for the appropriate consultant to plug in with their expertise, to make agropedia a more wholesome and digestible meal for the people who are to be served in this forum.

"agropedia, being the architect must not reveal the complexity of the structure to the layman, rather make it more of a user-friendly forum to call for easier, unguarded participation from our audience"...........was the statement that came across to us at the end of the proceedings.

Dr. Prabhakar provided the backdrop by providing the context of the current agropedia and how it evolved, explaining the technology behind it and giving his invaluable experience and inputs into the further structuring of " agropedia-the vision". The IIT, Kanpur team took us on a tour of the technical blocks of the site. Their presentation gave us a fair idea about the details of the virtual platform prepared till now.

Then the platform was taken over by the IIMC team. It was led by Prof. Runa Sarkar, briefing the Consultants about the deliverables allotted to IIM, Calcutta and the roles into which they may contribute. The rest of the presentation was handled by the Team at IIMC who gave a brief report till now on the progress made in every deliverable allotted, and presented the Data Analysis Report that was prepared on the basis of the data collected in the preliminary survey.

 This was followed by an open discussion on the path the project would takehenceforth and with a timeline around which each part would be completed.

There were certain key issues discussed, namely:

1.       To formally state the role of the Social Science corner, and specify the different tasks to broaden the reach of "agropedia"-the forum.

2.       To let the consultants relate to the work done till now, and step in where their expertise and experience may be of use to fill in the gap.

3.       To specify the deadlines within which the four Consultants are to deliver their tasks.

4.       In addition, we had an open discussion as to HOW agropedia AS AN AGRICULTURAL KNOWLEDGE NETWORK WOULD FARE AMIDST THE DIFFERENT NETWORK MODELS IN THE COMPETITIVE MARKET, fo e.g Wikipedia, facebook etc.

5.       To call for suggestion as to how to improve the questionnaire (both for farmers and KVK scientists) and our technique of data collection such that we may make the respondents reveal their true responses.

 

Till now we have recorded the following statistics:

Registered users: 6452

Reads: 160471

Unlike Wikipedia, Face book, we are troubled with the idea of having a very narrow follower base, which would imply the failure of agropedia as a BUSINESS MODEL.

In this regard, Mr. Ravi Shankar Mantha suggested "to sustain the agropedia forum as a business model, we would have to make it wholesome for the agricultural community. Since we envisage of calling it a "one-stop shop for all that is agricultural", we must make it to have in its ambit everything starting from the base to the top of the Agricultural structure.

Specific suggestions came in from Rahul Goswami and Kuntal De for including the following areas in agropedia:

1.       Input markets

2.       Market for selling the ultimate output from the field

3.       Information regarding prices, costs of production and current inflationary trends in Food, retail and agro-based Industrial goods markets.

4.       Not only generate and capture the Vertical system of information dissemination, but also acknowledge the trends and encourage the Horizontal, community linkage of information dissemination. This is to be able to trap the tacit knowledge base.

5.       To bring into our ambit the impact of Globalisation on Indian agriculture, so as to account for the change in socio-economic cultures, and ecological changes on it.

6.       To develop side by side the policy issues, sensitise and spread the Government policy issues that are of immense importance is this sector. To bridge the information gap between the "administrators" and the "recipient group".

7.       To make the networking model more supple, such that people are not intimidated by its complexity, (whether in usage or in visualisation).

8.      To build a Business Model, there shall be need for identifying the stakeholders in Agribusiness and bringing them into our functional operations.

9.    Information tracking (contextualising the data) in view of the repository developed through voice messages- the idea is to systematically consolidate the information for ease of access and keep in our repository a "basement of Knowledge" gathered till then.

10.     Include into the ambit of agropedia the patterns of rural livelihood and the role of allied sectors.

There was also some discussion on how more appropriate data could be collected using our questionnaire as well as during the more in-depth data collection field trips.  Accordingly, changes in the questionnaire will be made for further data collection.  Suggested changes in the questionnaire include:

1.       To capture the Demographic aspects viz, gender, age, location

2.       To prepare a baseline, include a NON-PERFORMER KVK.

3.       TO capture the source of credit, Banking Facilities obtainable, participation in Community Banking/credit generation

4.       Alternative sources of income for the HH

5.       Record the informal discussion

6.       Men to women knowledge base

7.       Livestock management

8.       Proximity of alternative information centres besides KVKs

9.       Price in final goods' market, cost of production information

 

For the Krishi Vichar White paper (rural livelihood)

1.      Rahul Goswami also suggested of making the forum more inclusive as well as localised- especially, in terms of monitoring the data gaps in the project design (to monitor prices in mandis, or localised weather reports).

2.      Kuntal De stated " we must capture the community life in terms of agriculture as  the way of living, rather than only the livelihood". Also to raise the issue of "Food Justice" in the domain of agropedia.

Also the Food Processing Unit should be brought under consideration, due to its immense role in the rural livelihood issues, for the design of a Business model, as suggested by Ravishankar Mantha.

For the Site design of agropedia, it was suggested that the portal of KVK-Net must display "just now" rather than "a moment ago".

Certain other changes were suggested in terms of the related HR issues, by Suneel:

1.       Lack of Experts at KVKs

2.       Infrastructure, especially electricity in KVKs

3.       Family facilities extended in KVKs

4.       The KVK experts have limited ownership of their role, which is why they would respond better to specific targets.  Targets have to be designed keeping quality aspects in mind.

Finally, the following timelines were agreed upon

Rahul Goswami - continuous blogs, monitored by Amrita

Kuntal De    -      Document on design issues related to brand agropedia - 20th March

Ravishankar Mantha - Business Model and Scan of Competition - 15th March

Shankara Pillai    -     Other Marketing related inputs-30th March

                                Commercial potential - 10th March

Krishanu Rakshit-      Linking agropedia to the rest of the world- 25th April

"So what is our culture, without which agriculture is not possible? Western model based, institutionalized, regimented approach will not look at our back yard, Our local schools are not enough, our governance structures either refrain, even protest to change and implement a basic learning system, that exists without boundaries. West is suffocated with its strictly regimented structures"..........these were the final comments received from Kuntal De, and very truly, this attitude seems very deceitful, since it asks us to dump our own cultural heritage, all the tacit knowledge base in order to adopt the western Documentation of Technical Knowledge.....we must at least store our originality, though no need for dumping the Western Knowledge is demanded..