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Role of Extension and extension personnel in State Agricultural University

The noun extension comes from the Latin word extendere, meaning “stretch out.”

Meaning of Extension education 

Extension education is for the betterment of people and for changing their behavior i.e. knowledge, skill, and attitude. Extension education is the dissemination of useful research findings and ideas among rural people to bring out desirable changes in their social and cultural behavior. Extension personnel is intermediaries between research and farmers. They operate as facilitators and communicators, helping farmers in their decision-making and ensuring that appropriate knowledge is implemented to obtain the best results.

Farm-level demonstrations are techniques of informal education in which the extension agent demonstrates a particular technique to improve farm operations for an individual or group of farmers. Hands-on training and education, working side by side with farmers, is an effective though time-consuming means to transfer technology.

In India, the first (SAU) State agricultural university was established in 1960 at Pantnagar in Uttar Pradesh (currently in Uttarakhand). The SAUs were given autonomous status and direct funding from the state government and indirect funding from central government. SAUs are autonomous organizations with state-wide responsibility for agricultural research, education (teaching) and training or extension education. These universities became the branches of research under the ICAR ( Indian Council of Agriculture Research) and became the partners of the National Agricultural Research System (NARS). The green revolution, with its impressive social and economic impact, witnessed significant contributions from the SAUs, both in terms of trained, scientific work force and the generation of new technologies. However, most of the agricultural universities in India continue to be dominated by top-down, monolithic structures that follow a limited extension mandate. None of the post-Training-and-Visit (T&V) system extension reforms could revitalize it to meet the demands of a changing agricultural context. 

Current status

The SAUs are the major partners in growth and development of agricultural research and education under the NARS. But universities are further constrained inadequate no. of properly trained staff, extension personnel, inadequate operational/programme resources at the field level and other structural issue like top-down approach, technology driven extension approach. In order to benefit the community extension services must change their focus from technology- driven to need -driven. ICT also plays important role in connecting SAUs with farmers, as universities have there e -portals for farmers, where farmers can get information in their local language. Eg- Kheti sandesh, Farmer portal, PAU Kisan app of PAU. Through these ICT, SAUs can meet the needs of farmers in some extent. Moreover, under ICAR many sub centres like Agricultural Technology Application Research institute (ATARI), Agricultural Technology Information Centre(ATIC), Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) located in SAUs play important extension role by disseminate the technologies and information and giving training to the farmers.  Furthermore, in order to harness the potential of ICT in Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture launched the scheme “Kisan Call Centres (KCCs)” on January 21, 2004. Main aim of the project is to answer farmers’ queries on a telephone call in their own dialect. Extension personnel can aware farm people regarding these centres. In KCC, (first level) extension personnel, (second level) subject matter specialist, and (third level) agriculture scientist answer the queries of farmers problems. There are various community radio stations running with the help of  SAU to broadcast programmes related to agriculture in local languages, they also organise phone-in programme where expert find out solution to the problem of local people regarding farming. Various talk shows and drama shows related to farming is organised by community radio. Voluntary students and extension personnel can work there. Eg: Pantnagar janvani 90.8 FM, which has ranged upto 10 kms. These community radio stations are meant to cater the needs of farm community in their local areas. Students and extension personnel come here and work for rural people. Apart from community radio stations NGO like PRADAN and BAIF recruit graduates and extension students of SAU in order to work for community development and mobilization.  These NGO are working in interior parts of remote villages to connect rural mass with the mainstream and also to tackle needs of women as well as farmers. These helps to uplift rural mass by living with them and understanding their situation very closely and after careful analysis they help the rural mass to help out with their problems.  Indirectly SAU is playing role in making out eligible graduates, who play direct role in uplifting the farm communities. 

Suggestions RAWE (Rural awareness/agriculture work experience) programmes conducted under university level should be more focused in capacity building of the community rather than only dissemination of information.  There should be proper ratio of Extension personnel and farmers, and they should focus the local needs and implement the schemes accordingly. The focus should not only limited to disseminate the information/technology but it should exceed to human resource development. Capacity building training programme should be organised by university where farmers can develop their skills in farming and can get further benefit/profit by not only producing the products but also processing, post harvesting, handling and at last marketing the produce.  And not only farm activities but also non- farm activities like sericulture, bee keeping, fisheries, embroidery work etc should be focussed so that their money income can be increased. Apart from this the actual profit occurs where marketing begins, so, the focus should be more on market-led extension. 

SAUs and KVKs act as an intermediary between the farmers and consumer, the link between these three should be more strengthen. There should be the proper linkage between SAUs with NGOs (Non-Government Organisation) and SHGs (Self-help group) in order to produce the best result as SAUs have funds and NGOs have to passion.  

Author: SWATI GARBYAL

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