Technological Interventions for Rural Development

Dr Banarsi Lal

Agriculture is demographically the broadest economic sector and plays a significant role in the overall socio-economic fabric of India. Rapid growth of agriculture is essential to achieve self -reliance at national level, for food security and to bring about equity in distribution of income and wealth resulting in reduction in poverty. Agriculture continues to be an occupation and way of life for more than half of the Indian population. The agriculture, which is an engine of growth and development and a significant contributor to the national economy, has been greatly influenced by the process of globalization. There is a matter great concern about imbalance of total production, the urban-rural divide, national nutritional and food security and economic access to food. The agricultural strategy in the country seeks to bridge the product and production gaps. The policy envisages promotion of sustainable agriculture through a regionally differentiated approach, improvement in the input use efficiency, development and transfer of technology. There is a need to focus on technology generation, refinement and its application in agro-ecological or social circumstances. Agriculture is an engine of growth and development and acts as an important contributor in the Indian economy. The agricultural globalisation and revolution in information and communication technology have brought tremendous changes in world economic growth. The Indian agriculture is passing through an era of transition. The agricultural situation has become more competitive, knowledge based and market-led. The Indian government is making serious efforts to increase the crops productivity, improving rural income, creating employment opportunities, making environmental security etc. There is also the need to develop an approach not only to develop ecologically sound technologies for different areas but also to facilitate their utilization at gross root level. In mid-sixties, the green revolution gave a sudden boost to the production and productivity of major cereals. Yet, there are several challenges and downstream consequences being faced by the Indian farmers. The impact of green revolution remained confined to the assured irrigated areas of the country. The agricultural research has success to selected crops. There is a great difference between the actual and potential crops yields. Deterioration of soil health, ground water depletion, regional imbalance, environmental pollution, rural people migration etc. are the consequences of intensive agriculture following green revolution. There is need to rectify the regional disparities, technological empowerment, food insecurity, fatigued green revolution, malnutrition etc.
The Indian farmers and farm workers are the backbone of India. The contribution of farming to rural development is mostly dependent on the development and dissemination of innovative technologies. Agricultural technologies choice have a critical impact on many aspects of agricultural development, especially the way we choose them, the way we innovate and design them and the way we deliver them to masses. Technology must be carefully chosen to enable farmers to acquire and imbibe knowledge according to their needs and environment. The technologies should be made in such a way that they upgrade their traditional skills and capabilities, minimize fatigue ,reduce drudgery, innovative ,assured added value to existing methods of operation, generate employment, use local resources in both men and materials, need low capital investment ,low cost, be capable of replication and adoption, blend harmoniously with existing eco-systems leading to tangible improvements in the living conditions and self-sustained development of the farmers. It is necessary to develop and introduce appropriate technologies coupled with sound delivery systems which ensure economic and ecological sustainability and optimum use of local resources emphasizing on capacity building and technological empowerment, particularly small and marginal farmers. Modern agricultural technologies are of limited value if they are not adopted by the farmers due to their unsuitability to particular socio-economic and agro-climatic conditions. Some of the improved agricultural technologies are hardly adopted by the farmers or totally rejected by them. Major reasons of poor adoption of technologies are: not matching with the farmers’ needs, economically not viable, unavailability and not compatible with their farming system. Mostly the agricultural technologies are not appropriate for the small and marginal farmers. In conventional researches, there was negligible involvement of the farmers. These factors compel the extension personnel and researchers to shift to more farmer-oriented, holistic and interdisciplinary approach for technology development, its refinement and its dissemination. There is need to involve the farmers for assessment and refinement of technology.
Agricultural technologies work as the catalyst for both the agricultural development and rural poverty reduction. In order to implement the technology assessment and refinement, one village or a cluster of villages can be identified. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) technique can be used to analyze the agro-ecosystem and socio-economic status of the farmers of the particular village. Problems in food grain crops, animal husbandry, horticulture, soil health, mushroom, sericulture, apiculture etc. need to be identified by the extension personnel’s. To implement the technological interventions, an action plan is made by consulting farmers, extension personnel, scientists and various district heads. The field trials have to be laid out for testing of research information. The farmers are expected to co-ordinate the field trials with the guidance of research scientists and extension personnel. Required inputs and trainings should be provided to the beneficiaries during implementation of technological interventions. The data like technical parameters, economic factors and farmers’ response are necessary to be taken. The scientists and farmers can judge the suitability of the technology in a particular location and further refinement can be done in varied agro-ecological conditions.
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has started a project on Technology Assessment and Refinement (TAR) through Institution Village Linkage Programme (IVLP). In case of technology assessment and refinement, the research, extension and farmers develop the strong links. It is mandatory for Krishi Vigyan Kendra’s (KVKs) of State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) to assess and refine the location specific agricultural and allied sectors technologies based on the field problems. By assessing and refining of technologies, research becomes more need based and problem solving. It strengthens the scientists and farmers’ linkages. It helps to develop modules for different farming situations. As the farmers from different locations are fully involved in technology assessment and refinement, they develop confidence to adopt the technology. The experience of the farmers should also be considered in research planning. The technology development, refinement and dissemination is a unique tool for strengthening the linkage between the research scientists, extension personnel and farmers. Policies for agricultural technologies development should take account of new economic and environmental challenges for farming, diversity of rural livelihoods, the increasing privatization of technology provision and complexity of agricultural markets. Agricultural technologies should be compatible with the wider goals of rural development. Re-invigorated and efficient public agricultural research and extension systems are required that can provide productive technologies to support the robust agricultural sector.

(The writer is Head, KVK Reasi SKUAST-J).

Editorial editorial article