A new Centre of Learning

The agricultural growth rate in India has the potential of exceeding the 4 per cent target of the national planners-in view of the hardworking nature of our farmers. However, our farmers are starving of scientific and technical knowledge of modern agriculture. This is in spite of the largest number of agricultural scientists and technologists available in India. In view of the above, agricultural productivity and growth is almost stagnating on account of incomplete transfer of scientific technology to Indian farmers.

Most institutions involved in teaching, research, development and administration in agricultural sector have their channels for educating and training the farmers in modern agriculture. These institutes organise farmer fairs and training programmes on various topics related to agriculture. Almost all Indian Council of Research Institutes (ICARs), State Agricultural universities and government agricultural departments have their Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), Krishi Gyan Kendras (KGKs) and farmer training centres at district and state headquarters. Most progressive and educated farmers are getting benefited from these facilities and improving their profession. However, the reach of these science centres has proved very limited on account of certain reasons.

Mr. Vijay Setia, President, AIREA and Dr. B.S. Modi, Principal Scientist, have identified causes behind the unsatisfactory performances and under occupancy of these centres of excellence. They propose a new model for smooth and rapid transfer of agricultural technology from laboratories to farms.

Almost all the centres described above are scattered in the cities at different locations. Similarly the testing facilities for soil, seeds, irrigation water, agricultural chemicals and fertilizers are not situated in one place. Under these circumstances the needy farmers have to literally run from pillar-to-post to learn the modern scientific farm technology, seek solutions to the seasonal problems and to discuss with the scientists and technology experts. Hence, they have suggested that all these facilities be established at one place in the town where farmers visit in large numbers for their work in a usual way. Naturally, such a common place is grain market, i.e. mandi yards and vegetable auction markets.

According to a rough estimate over 50,000 farmers visit Karnal mandi yard in paddy harvest season and another 30,000 in wheat season to dispose their produce. Further, about 30,000 vegetable production farmers visit the wholesale vegetable auction market every year. Mr. Setia and Dr. Modi propose that agricultural wisdom centres be established in one building in such mandi yards and vegetable auction markets. All the laboratories involved in testing the suitability of soil, water, seeds, chemicals and fertilizers can be housed in that building. Laboratories for identification of diseases, insects and deficiencies/abnormalities in plant growth can be provided. Experts in all disciplines of agriculture, horticulture, animal sciences and dairying can be situated in this place. These centres will further advise the farmers to decide the crops to be taken, new crop varieties and crop rotation technology. This arrangement will substantially upgrade farmers’ knowledge, confidence and capacity.

Total system of good farm practices can be displayed on notice boards. Literature on package of practices for Rabi, kharif, and spring-summer crops and plant protection can be displayed on these noticeboards. Live videos of seed treatment, handling of high quality seed, information on the latest high yielding crop varieties and hybrids can be exhibited at regular intervals. Doses of fertilizer and chemicals can be advised to farmers for higher yields and pesticide-free crops can be promoted.

 Through this model, the governments can have a good control on quality of seeds, pesticides and fertilizers, so that farmers are not cheated in agro-input and deprived of better crops. Young farmers can be encouraged to receive technical trainings who in turn can train others at village level through videos, printed literature and folders-calendars-booklets. Agricultural research institutes, state agricultural universities and government agricultural/horticultural departments can put up their sale counters for distribution of books, periodicals and CDs on improved farming.

Study conducted by Mr. Vijay Setia, Former President (AIREA)

and Dr. B. S. Modi (Principal Scientist)
install tracking codes