The Gist of Kurukshetra: October 2014

The Gist of Kurukshetra: October 2014

New Rural Technologies

Only with mass production being aided by modern technology and intensive marketing can the agriculturist exploit both the domestic market as well as the international market to the fullest extent. The volume of production depends not only on the capital investments and marketing strategies but also on the technical capacity used during the production and processing stage. In fact, technology has come to playa very Significant role even in marketing these days.

Agriculture Technology: It includes wide range of improved techniques, methods, equipments, processes and products by which farmers can increase their production, productivity, input profit and overall quality of life. Generally, technology is used to improve the human condition, the natural environment or to carry out other socio-economic activities. Agriculture technology is a complex blend of materials, processes and knowledge.
Classification of Agricultural Technology: Agricultural technology may be classified into two major categories:

(1) Hardware (Material technology): Where knowledge is embodied into a technological product such as tools, equipments, agrochemicals, seed materials, medicines etc.

(2) Software (Knowledge based technology): It includes technology knowledge, management skills and other processes that farmers and rural people need for better production in their enterprises. The word “technology” can also be used to refer to a collection of techniques.

Technology Development: In the conventional or central source” view of agricultural research and development, technology emanates from “upstream” activities in the formal research system and is adapted by “downstream” research until it is ready for dissemination to farmers.

In practice, however, agricultural innovations are derived not only from the laboratories and research stations of the national and international centers but from multiple sources. These sources include research-minded farmers, innovative research practitioners at the local level, research-minded administrators, non-government organizations (NGOs), private corporations and extension agencies. in the “multiple sources” model, technology consists of many old and new components.

New Agricultural Technologies in India

(1) Ploug: Ploughing is the first preparation for planting. The plough is primarily designed to prepare the ground for cultivation by turning it over, thus burying the weeds and loosening the earth, it is generally agreed by historians that the earliest implement used for cultivation was probably a crude pointed bent stick or tree branch which was used to stir the soil surface in effect, a hand held hoe was used in which the user scratched at the earth to form a tilth where corn could be sown. Over a period of time, these hand held hoes soon developed into simple ploughs. These primitive ploughs were eventually pulled by animals like oxen, camels and even elephant.

(2) Harrow: After ploughing, other implements were used. The harrow was necessary to smoothen the soil in areas where the soil remained rough it consists of a wooden or metal framework bearing metal disks, teeth or sharp projecting points, called tines, which are dragged over plowed land to crush the clods of earth and level ‘the soil. Harrows are also used to uproot weeds, aerate the soil and cover seeds in the beginning the harrows were as simple as a tree branch but the harrow became more sophisticated after the industrial Revolution.

(3) Seed Driller: Seed drill is an innovation that allowed to be easily planted deep into the soil instead of on top where the majority were washed away or otherwise lost. The machine was pulled by horses and consisted of rotating drills or runners that planted seeds at a set depth.

(4) Horse Hoe: it is horse-drawn machine which loosened the soil and killed weeds.

(5) Reaper: The first reapers cut the standing grain and with a revolving reel, sweeping it onto a platform from which it was raked off into piles by a man walking alongside. The reaper could thus harvest more grain than five men using the earlier cradles.

(6) Threshing Machines: Threshing machine is designed for rapidly removing the husk from grain. With improvements in design and efficiency, threshing machines became progressively more common and the hand flail was gradually consigned to history.

(7) Tractor: Tractor is a vehicle particularly crafted to exert traction at slow speeds, for the purpose of hauling a trailer or machinery used in agriculture. The versatility of tractor is with respect to its attachments that it supports. The more the options for connecting attachments to the tractor, the higher is the cost.

Irrigation Technology: Water is undoubtedly the sine qua non for all irrigation activities, worldwide. Particularly in India, an unpredictable monsoon coupled with an increasing demand for food production (at the self-sustenance as well as commercial levels) has induced an imperative need for irrigation options other than those that are either extremely laborious and time consuming or simply too expensive for small and marginal farmers.
Drip Irrigation Technology: Drip irrigation is a water-saving technology which enables slow and regular application of water directly to the roots of the plants through a network of economically designed plastic pipes and low discharge emitters. It maximizes crop productivity through increase in the crop yield and also the area for cultivation and protects the environment through conserving soil, water and fertilizer resources, thus increasing the farmer income.

Technology dissemination: Is a system in which package of technology and services, which include appropriate technology, relevant media system, credit, input supply system, prices and marketing and trained manpower are put into practice to increase agricultural productivity.

Ways to Technology Dissemination: [1] Government: Extension workers, KVKs, Agri-clinics & plant-clinics, Extension programme like ATMA, NATP, NAIP, NAEP etc. [2] Private: NGOs, Input Agencies, Private Agri-clinics, Kisaan call center, E-choupal, Farmers Organization etc.

Transfer of Agricultural Technology Government Programme in India: First’ line extension systems: Realizing the scope and importance of integrated working of interrelationship between research, education and extension functions, the ICAR established a section of extension education in its headquarters in 1971, which was later on strengthened and renamed as division of agricultural extension. It was intended to enforce this functional relationship down the line in the research institutes, agricultural universities and allied institutions. There were four main transfers of technology projects of ICAR, namely the: All India Coordinated Projects on National Demonstrations {AICPND}, Operational Research Project {ORP}, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK) and Lab to Land Project (LLP). All the projects were of mobile type, except the KVKs, which are vocational training institutions.

1. All India Coordinated Projects on National Demonstrations (AICPND): A nationwide programme of demonstrations, known as National Demonstrations (NO) on major food crops was launched in 1964. The rationale behind the schemes was that unless the scientists could demonstrate what they advocated, their advice might not be heeded by the farmers. It was a nationwide project with a uniform design and pattern.

2. Operational Research Project (ORP): ORP were initiated in 1974-75, aimed at disseminating the proven technology in a discipline/area among farmers or a watershed basis, covering the whole village or a cluster of villages and concurrently studying constraints (technological, extension or administrative) as barriers to rapid spread of improved technical know-how.

3. Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK) is designed to impart need-based and skill-oriented vocational training to the practicing farmers, in service field level extension workers and to those who wish to go in for self-employment.

4. Lab to land Project (LLP) was launched by the ICAR in 1979 as a part of its Golden Jubilee Celebration. The overall objective of the programme was to improve the economic condition of the small and marginal farmers and landless agricultural labourers, scheduled cast and scheduled tribes, by the transfer of improved technology developed by the agricultural universities, research institutes etc.

5. Lab to Market: The National Development Council envisaged an overall growth rate of 10 percent during the 11th Five Year Plan. But, the fact remains that the agricultural sector has lagged behind pace with other sectors of the economy. To achieve the targeted 10 percent growth, agriculture has to gear up to attain a growth rate of 4.1 per cent as against 1.7 per cent of the 10th plan.

Information of Agricultural Technologies through Mobile Phone: Farmers all across the nation need not worry about pests and crop diseases as they will soon be able to get all this information on their mobile phones. The pilot project will be implemented in a few villages of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh initially. Agricultural experts in some of the villages are already gathering information from a wireless sensor network spread across the farms, wherein based on soil, weather, rainfall and other parameters diseases in crops are being detected. The new application, known as “mKrishi”, to detect the crop diseases has been developed by Tata Consultancy services.
Kisaan SMS Portal: Kisaan SMS Portal was launched on July 16, 2013 for Farmers. SMSs to be sent to the farmers can be broadly classified into three categories, viz. information, services and advisories. The content may include information about the schemes, advisories from the experts. Market have been grouped based on the State, District, Block and the Crops/Activities selected by a farmer. Officers can send SMS to the farmers belonging to the entire area of their jurisdiction or a part of it. Grouping of farmers based on their location and their preferred crop/activity will help sending relevant messages to the farmers. The system is capable of sending messages in regional languages also. The farmers can register to this service by calling Kisaan Call Center on the toll free number 1800-180-1551 or through the web portal. SMS based registration is also being introduced shortly. Farmers can give upto 8 choices for their preferred crops/activities.

Timely receipt of relevant expert advice/information/market information can help the farmers in following ways.

1. Information on Schemes and Programs of Government of India can help every farmer to reap benefits out of these schemes thus widening the footprint of these schemes.
2. Weather forecast can help the farmer in planning farm operation effectively on the onset of any adverse weather conditions; advice can be provided to the farmers on effective recourse to be adopted.
3. Outbreak of disease/pests can be controlled as advisories can be provided immediately to the farmers in and around the area of initial report of the disease/ pest.
4. Crop advisory will lead to the adoption of more appropriate technologies suited to local situations.
5. Selection of suitable and better variety/breed by the farmer based on the information/advisory can be provided to him/her.
6. Timely market information will give better bargaining power to the farmer.
7. Soil test results in his mobile will help in selecting the right fertilizer and the dosage.

ICT Infrastructure & Services for Rural India

Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) are facilitators of socio-economic development. In rural India with its obvious lack of basic facilities by way of health, education, financial services and employment avenues etc., ICTs can help bridge gaps by providing access to internet and mobile enabled ‘e’ and m’ services. ICTs can make knowledge and employment opportunities, education, health, financial and government services etc. available to rural Indians. Certainly, the notable growth of rural telephony, especially mobile telephony has brought improved connectivity and this would have contributed significantly to socio-political and economic mainstreaming of rural India in the past decade. However, much more needs to be done if the benefits of telecommunications connectivity are to translate into overall rural development.

DoT’s Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) already launched a Wire line Broadband scheme in 2009. Under this scheme, 360,000 connections had been provided till April 2012. With the auction of 3G spectrum, it is expected that the rollout of broadband facilities in rural India would follow over the next five years as prescribed under winning operators’ agreements with DoT. For uncovered areas, USOF would put in place a Rural Wireless Broadband scheme. USOF is also to fund the National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN) now christened Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL) which shall soon connect 2,50,000 village panchayats and co-located Bharat Nirman Kendras) with Optic Fibre thereby providing high speed broadband facilities. Bandwidth from NOFN will be available to eligible service providers to provide broadband and broadband enabled services in rural areas.

Mobile Value Added Services

A good example of mobile services is the USOF pilot project scheme for mobile value added service (m-VAS) for rural women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs). This is a part of USOF’s Sanchar Shakti programme. In this scheme, SHGs’ information needs are identified based upon their main entrepreneurial/income generation activities and relevant information is then delivered in local language through mobile phones. It could be through SMS (if the women are literate) or otherwise though Outbound Dialers (OBDs) and Integrated Voice Response Systems (IVRS).The focus is on skill building and income enhancing information (training, market opportunities, input and output prices, weather, crop/livestock care etc), but information is also provided on health, education, women’s empowerment and local government schemes. Even in its early days this scheme has demonstrated that rural women are extremely responsive to information. They were able to vocally and precisely demand pertinent information/data. In Uttaranchal, SHGs wanted to know how to obtain a license to sell forest produce (which they gather and process) rather than depend on intermediaries.

It is perhaps not widely known but 80% of economically active women in India are involved in agriculture. Information on government schemes was valued highly and acted upon promptly. MNREGA related information too was in high demand. As of now rural women hardly constitute a target segment for rural mVAS and this project was designed not only to cater to the needs of rural women but to demonstrate the demand for such women-specific content to mobile services and content providers. It must be mentioned that there are other such examples of mVAS initiatives such as those of Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and Barefoot College in Ajmer. Ministries such as Women and Child Development and agencies like U N Women are actively considering m-VAS for target groups like Anganwadi workers and women Sarpanches respectively.
The lack of higher education facilities in the vicinity of their homes makes rural India the ideal market for distance education services. The Sanchar Shakti scheme in Rajasthan demonstrates that in spite of the family’s desire to educate its daughters, a rural girl can only study beyond the secondary school level if higher education facilities or distance education opportunities are available in the village itself. In the present context of rural educational infrastructure, this translates into the need for e-enabled study centres which the Bharat NirmanKendra can provide. It also points to the need for public access to broadband facilities in every Indian village. Apart from education and medical facilities, employment opportunities and government services etc. can be made accessible too.

Rural India and Broadband enabled National Growth

Contrary to the commonly held notion there is a fair demand for broadband in rural areas. Already there are more internet users in small towns than the top eight metros put together. Interestingly more than 20% users are school children and 10% users belong to lowest socio-economic strata. While only a minority of rural Indians may be able to afford individual access to broadband on account lack of computing devices and power, this does not imply a lack of demand for broadband enabled services.


While the Government is rightly concentrating on encouraging rural ICT infrastructure, ultimately it is the services that ride on this network that rural India needs. These compensates for the lack of other infrastructure and services such as health, education, employment opportunities. Both Government and Private sector need to tap into ICT’s tremendous potential as a mode of delivery for rural services. ICT based development for Rural India is not just a national obligation but poses a huge and attractive business opportunity and a source of national economic growth. The healthy growth of both rural ICT Infrastructure and services would complement each other to revolutionise and mainstream rural India.

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