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Dissemination of Knowledge in Agriculture:

Dissemination of Knowledge in Agriculture:


Where does Old ICT stand in Disseminating Knowledge among Farmers?
Agricultural development relies to a great extent on successful knowledge generation and application (World Bank, 2006). To enhance farm productivity and profitability, the knowledge deficit would have to surmount among the farmers (GOI and FAO, 2008). Though India is investing a quite large amount of resources in the form of science and technology and several major programmes have been undertaken by the government in agricultural sector, there is a widening gap between technological know-how and field level know-how (ibid). To transform the Indian agriculture, it is not only important to strengthen the agricultural research and extension services, but also to diffuse the innovated modern technologies among the farmers. For reducing the gap and transforming the agricultural sector, it would require generation, management and application of all forms of knowledge traditional as well as modern (technological, organisational, and marketing) through an interactive network of organisations involved in research, extension and other support services (FAO, 2008). In current scenario, Indian agriculture has engaged with diverse mix of actors1 in knowledge generation and management. Therefore, in Indian context strengthening the knowledge generation, management and practices has been well articulated. In addition to a fair research and extension services, the agricultural sector also contains several sources to access this modern technology. However, with all these facilitation provided by the Government of India, it is found that only 40 % of farmers are accessing any kind of modern technology (NSSO, 2003). Therefore, it is all the more important to ascertain at the extent of knowledge or information dissemination among farmers through different sources in general and old ICT in particular. The chronic problem in Indian agriculture is not the lack of technology or the R&D efforts; rather it is the inadequacy and ineffectiveness as well as inefficiencies in the dissemination of vital information to the farming community (Bowonder & Yadav, 2005). The small and marginal farmers, majority of Indian farmers, are often unable to access information that could increase
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The National Agricultural Research System (NAS) in India comprises a network of 189 centres and coordinated projects supported by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). It also comprises of 1 Central University, 40 State Agricultural Universities and their several regional and commodity focused research institution.

Dissemination of Knowledge in Agriculture:

yields and lead to better prices for their crops. By reducing the transaction costs and information search costs of these farmers, ICT is expected to make agricultural markets efficient and overcome some other burden (Mittal et.al, 2010). With the sluggish and stagnant growth rate, the sector needs to grow at a faster rate and the sound agricultural development is essential for the overall economic progress of India. Given its range of agro-ecological setting and a large dependency population (more than 60% of total population), Indian agriculture is faced with a great diversity of needs, opportunities and prospects. The challenge for the government and policy makers is to regain the agricultural dynamism. The working group2 on agricultural extension for formulation of eleventh five year plan recommended that if it is to respond successfully to the new challenges posed, greater attention will have to be paid to information based technologies, strengthen means of dissemination to transmit the information to farmers. Further, it also suggests that the use of information technology in extension enables the extension workers to be more effective in meeting the information needs of farmers. The concerned group has also recommended having a dedicated TV channel on agriculture. The National Commission on Farmers has also drawn attention to the knowledge deficit, which constrains agricultural productivity. National Policy for farmers (2007) pointed out that the potential of ICT would be harnessed by establishing gyan chaupals (Knowledge Centres) in villages. Consequently, it emphasized on last mile and last person connectivity would be facilitated with the help of technologies such as broadband internet, community radio, or internet-mobile phone synergies. The right information at the right time and place is essential for empowering farmers and improving the efficiency and viability of small and marginal holdings. In this regard, particularly the radio, television and local language newspapers will be used to play a vital role (ibid). From its number of schemes to support the State Extension Programmes for Extension Reforms, the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation (DAC) has stressed on the utilization of Doordarshan and All India Radio for providing information. Against this background, this paper attempts to examine the following question: (i) to assess the extent of information dissemination in terms of technology, farm management and marketing among the farmers through various sources in general and old ICT in particular, and (ii) to
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Planning Commission, Government of India constituted a working group on Agricultural Extension for formulation of XIth Five Year Plan Approach (2007-12) under the Chairmanship of Shri J.N.L. Srivastava. The working group in turn constituted six sub groups with specific terms of reference.

Dissemination of Knowledge in Agriculture:

consider the quality of information from these sources. The paper has used Situation Assessment Survey of farmers. The survey is conducted by National Sample Survey Organisation in its 59th round (2003-04). The paper is broadly focused on the knowledge dissemination among farmers by different diffusion agents in general and old ICT in particular. The study considered six important channels, namely television, radio, newspaper, other progressive farmers, input dealers and extension workers. The concerned knowledge on cultivation discussed here is in the form of farm technology, farm management and harvesting or marketing. At all India level farmers are accessing more other progressive farmers for the new agricultural knowledge backed by radio and input dealer. The inter-state variation in the proportion of farmer household accessing different modern technology shows that farm households in Punjab are better placed in accessing TV, followed by Kerala and Maharashtra. Similarly, the farm households in Kerala lead in accessing Radio and newspaper. As regard the access of other progressive farmers and extension worker Gujarat leads while farmers in West Bengal access more information from input dealer. Further it is also observed on the distribution of farmer household accessing different sources of technology that small farmers are least likely in accessing television followed by landless farmers. Surprisingly, as regard the use of newspaper also 18 per cent chances have reduced for small farmers in accessing newspaper as a source of receiving agricultural knowledge while for landless farmers 15 per cent chances have increased as regard the use of newspaper. For other progressive farmers, chances have reduced for both small and large farmers but small farmers are least likely (.93) backed by large farmers (.97) compared with medium farmers who are most likely (1.26 times) in accessing this particular source. Since landless farmers are not accessing other progressive farmers the chances for landless farmers have neither increased nor decreased. As regard the daily use of TV, radio and newspaper, it is more frequent among the landless farmers as compared with other category of farmers. The result on the distribution of farm households obtaining different type of information shows that among the six dominant sources, newspaper and extension farmer performs better in distributing information on harvesting or marketing. Landless farmers are not getting any kind of information from other progressive farmers. Landless farmers are more balanced in terms of obtaining information as regard to farm technology and farm management from television. But in sources like input dealer and extension worker, landless farmers are only gained in terms of farm management and farm technology respectively.

Dissemination of Knowledge in Agriculture:

In the second phase we have discussed on the quality of information and distribution of farm households who have tried the recommended information. More than 50 per cent of farmer households reported the quality of information is good from all the sources. Moreover, it is also observed that the highest percentage of information on cultivation provided by television is good quality information in compared to other sources of information. The result shows that though more than 50 per cent of households reported the trial of recommended information, all the three old ICT indicators lag behind from the rest of the sources.