Survey on reach of agropedia services among both the stakeholders: farmers and KVK experts @KVK Auraiya 16th to 18th April, 2012
Interaction with KVK experts, KVK Auraiya
The IIM C social science team along with IIT K team member has conducted a survey from April 16th to 19th 2012 at Auraiya district of Uttar Pradesh. The purpose of the survey was to collect the Feedback of agropedia's features namely vKVK services and KVK Net from the KVK scientists and the registered farmers. On the 1st day they have visited the KVK, Auraiya and gathered the response from 7 KVK scientists. The KVK started operating in 2008; V-Sat connectivity is not yet available at the KVK. On the 2nd and 3rd day they have visited the villages and have taken the feedback from 17 farmers. On the basis of the survey following observations are noted:
- Except the acting PC Dr. Anant Kumar none of the other scientists have received any formal training regarding agropedia though they are using the voice message option of the vKVK service. During the session a short demonstration about the idea and features of agropedia was provided to the KVK experts.
- The list of registered farmers obtained from ZPD4 was made 2-3 years ago. Updated list is not available. Often farmers do not inform the KVK if they change their contact number. In certain cases the cell phone does not remain with the person against whose name it is registered.
- KVK Expert Dr. S.K. Singh suggested written messages in Hindi in the context of pest disease related advisories as it involves at least some technical terms and also because of its storage dimension. His issue was clarified by the team members by explaining how multilingual SMS facility is present within vKVK service. He opined in favour of increasing number of registered farmers and explained how dissemination process is obstructed due to frequent change of mobile numbers by the farmers.
- Even if proper and timely information from KVK is received by the farmers, they fail to implement because of prevailing market conditions. Their produce is still largely dependent on the whims of input (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides) dealers.
- Labor scarcity is prominent in this region. The experts explained it as adverse effect of MNREGA programme. For e.g. cost of cultivation of Wheat was Rs20, 000 / hectare in 2010-11 which increased to Rs.25, 000/hectare in 2011-12 due to rise in labor cost. Under MNREGA labors receive Rs.120 for 2-3hrs of work everyday while they receive the same amount only after working 10hrs a day in agricultural land.
- Auraiya is a Brahmin dominated area and in many of the cases the large farmers are not involved in cultivation- 90% of their land holdings are into share cropping. Yet the details of the former is available with the KVK since the underlying objective was to capture the progressive farmers(having land holding more than 2 acres) as a result the information received by them often don't reach the actual tillers. Sharecropper change annually depending on the basis of profit generated.
- Farmers in this region are mostly marginal and small in nature. Rice-wheat cropping cycle is predominant as it requires lesser monitoring and involves less risk then crops like gram. Though this practice results in diversity loss.
- Progressive farmers in Auraiya produce mainly garlic, potato and Basmati. Storage of garlic is inexpensive and easy.
- Farmer's don't receive the MSP nor are their produce purchased by the government agencies they are compelled to largely depend on middlemen to sell their produce as the former creates lots of trouble and deny to buy the produce. Farmers directly sell few products like garlic, onion and vegetables for which local markets exist.
- Paddy crops cultivated across Auraiya consists of 80% Kranti, 10%HYV and 10%Basmati.Though Basmati is profitable yet farmers are unable to shift to the same as local market don't exist, quality seed is no easily available.
- "SHGs in and about Auraiya are good in paper but not in reality" - observation of KVK experts. Groups are not sustaining due to lack of confidence among members. Absence of awareness among farmers makes a significant difference. KVK experts have once constituted a SHG to disseminate crop related information, conducting FLD etc.
- As per the KVK scientists, farmers often lack enthusiasm to participate in the training organized by KVK scientists regarding various technological innovations. They are relatively more interested when some benefits in kind: like seeds are received. Only aware farmers keep in regular touch with the experts.
- The experts mentioned absence of meteorological experts and agriculture engineer at the KVK.
- IIFCO and Pioneer are the private player operating in this region.
- Private fertilizer dealers are unwilling to sell to the KVK experts as KVK scientist asks for proper bills unlike the farmers.
- Due to lack of availability of the inputs the farmers sometimes are unable to implement the suggestions given by KVK experts.
- Coordination failure among multiple facilitators impedes the working in reality. For example due to delay in availability of irrigation facilities for wheat harvesting subsequent crop -paddy's production cycle is hampered. As farmers are left with little choice they are able to cultivate only late varieties of paddy even if they receive early variety seeds, it is redundant.
- Micro irrigation is not viable due to prevailing soil condition. Major irrigation source is canal water.
- KVK experts explained their constraint about being innovative as after abiding by all the rules and regulations while producing seeds, their "quality" outcome, cause of the cost factor, fails to compete with the market substitutes produced under highly subsidized regime- which often compromises with quality.
- Subsidies promoting mal practices: DAP was previously highly subsidized as a result it was extensively used and lead to nutrient erosion. Recently with reduction in subsidy on DAP resulted in significant fall in usage of the same. Farmers are now adopting alternatives like vermicomposting. The farmers are now requesting KVK experts to dig pits for the same. According to the experts though the switch over is costly yet it is ensures sustainability in the long run.
- Credit scenario: significantly low fraction of farmers possess Kisan Credit Card as only the aware are able to demand otherwise exploited. Often farmers are indirectly incentivized for non repayment due to the loan waiver schemes.
- Experts mentioned how adaptive practices like Rhizobium culture,Azotobacter culture etc can reduce cost of cultivation for farmers. The farmers are catching up still the adoption rate is low due to ignorance.
Interaction with respondents
- One of the pisciculture practitioners expressed his willingness to receive advisory relevant to the same from the KVK.
- Information demand for horticulture(flowering and medicinal plants related), foundation seed and breeder seed exists,
- State of electricity and irrigation is still not up to the mark.
- Suggestion to organize Kisan Melas at relatively remote areas to enhance inclusiveness.
- Complained about availability of adulterated seeds, fertilizers and other inputs.
- Suggestion for developing reward scheme for farmers based on their performance helps in boosting up their spirit.
On the first day attendance of farmers was quite low due to ongoing harvesting time. On the second day the team could interact with substantial number of farmers due to immense cooperation from the KVK experts, yet few unregistered farmers attended the session which do dilutes the effectiveness of the study. Yet the survey was beneficial in gaining insights of the real obstacles prevailing in the region, finding solutions to resolve them might ease the journey of agropedia services.