An agricultural invention and innovation continuum in all facets of agriculture and allied activities with its effective diffusion is key to sustainably increase the agricultural production and productivity with environment sustainability. Indian agriculture has witnessed phenomenal growth during last four decades with manifold increase in production of major commodities like food grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, eggs and fish. As a result, the per capita availability of important food items has increased despite of increasing population. With half of the workforce engaged in agricultural sector in India, the role of science and technology in agriculture is pertinent to not only ensure food security of the country, but also to provide farmers a competitive edge and to maintain affordability of the food items for the public at large.
The ratio of agricultural land to agricultural population has shrunk to 0.3 ha per person in India as compared to 11.0 ha per person in developed countries. The resources are getting marginalized and there is tremendous pressure on natural resources with divergence of agricultural land and water towards industrial, urban and non-agriculture sector. Food security is one of the major concerns. It is estimated that India’s population during the last three and half decades have increased from 450 million to 1.38 billion with a growth rate of 206.3 %, which implied that the country has to feed more than the double population. Food security is attached to national sovereignty and thus, agriculture sector has to gain strength and vision to uphold the national concern. To realize the true potential, farmers must have access to the state of the art technologies, necessary inputs and related information.
In this context, the Government of India through Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) has established a large network of over 725 Krishi Vigyan Kendra’s (KVKs) across the country with an aim to conduct technology assessment and refinement, knowledge dissemination and provide critical input support for the farmers with a multidisciplinary approach. Krishi Vigyan Kendra’s (KVKs) also known as Farm Science Centers in India, are one of the key extension systems and integral part of National Agricultural Research System (NARS) in the country. It aims at assessment of location specific technology modules in agriculture and allied enterprises through assessment and demonstrations with relevant trainings to farmers.
KVKs reach farmers with the technical inputs from lab to land in promoting scientific cultivation practices. They serve the farmers with mandated activities like On-farm testing, front line demonstrations, trainings of farmers, farm women and extension personnel and act as knowledge and resource centre of agricultural technologies. Having district as its jurisdiction area, KVKs played crucial role in enhancing production and generating part time employment for the farming community. KVKs aims to bridge the gap between the technologies developed at the research institutions and its adoption at the field level by the farmer’s through the demonstration of technology/ products etc. and by providing training for the farmers, rural youths and the extension personnel.
On-farm testing: Assess the location specificity of agricultural technologies under various farming systems.
Frontline demonstration: Establish production potential of technologies on the farmers’ fields.
Capacity building: Farmers and extension personnel are trained to update their knowledge and skills on modern agricultural technologies.
Knowledge and resource centre: Hub for agricultural technologies for supporting public, private and voluntary sector initiatives in improving the agricultural economy of the district.
Extension services: Farm advisories using ICT and other media means on varied subjects of interest to farmers.
Farm advisory services: KVKs provide solution to the problems related to agriculture and allied subjects as and when faced by farmers of the region. Interested farmers/persons can also get proper advice regarding establishment of new entrepreneurship on non-traditional sector. The main function of advisory service centre is to provide continuous and constructive advice along with sound theory and practical knowledge to the contact villagers regarding agriculture and its allied subjects for their cultural and economical improvement.
Agro-met Advisory Services: Provides the weather based agro advisory services to the farmer’s at block level on every Tuesday and Friday (biweekly) for decision making in response to past, current and future weather change. This helps the farmers to take weather related sensitive decisions like sowing / transplanting of seedlings, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer application, scheduling irrigation, timely harvesting of the crops, post-harvest storage of the harvested crop, forewarnings of livestock related diseases and vaccination of livestock and poultry birds.
Helping in Rural Development
KVKs aim at comprehensive rural development and hence training on employment and income generating activities like wire basket making, tailoring, preservation techniques, agarbatti making, leather bag production, rope making, candle making, bee-keeping, goat and pig rearing, and many other agriculture based training are organized for school drop-outs, especially women, so as to make them earn during off-season. These trained people can start their own enterprises in local areas generating employment for the local rural youth. Thus, farmers are not the only beneficiaries of KVK but rural masses in one or another form are benefitted from the activities of KVKs.
Human Capital: Trainings and other informal meetings conducted by KVK’s at village level and tells the importance of imparting education to their children which in turn motivate beneficiaries to educate their children.
Physical Capital: It includes improvements in farm power and resources in the form of number of bullocks and tractor or other farm machineries, construction or renovation of dwelling house and improvement in entertainment materials such as radio, TV etc.
Social Capital: This includes social interaction, respect at home and outside and also leadership opportunities. Exposure trainings conducted by KVKs, contribute in the development of social infrastructure through the formation of self-help groups and village level federations.
Financial Capital: KVKs provide the required inputs at subsidiary cost and other income generating activities. In addition savings, farmers can take bank loan, which further strengthen their financial capital position resulting in improved financial status.
Food Security: Employment opportunities and increase in income through intensive use of land resources for food grains, fruits, fodder and fuel wood production, through various land based activities organized by KVKs can improve the food security in a better way.
(DR. Ashu Sharma is Scientist at KVK Kathua and Dr. Arvind Kumar Ishar is Sr. Scientist & Head KVK Rajouri of SKUAST Jammu)