Significance of technical knowhow in modern day Agriculture
By: Dr. Imtiyaz Rasool Ganai
Agriculture is vital indicator of development for any country and defines the wellbeing of huge populations residing mostly in rural areas. In the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, however, there is a vast gap between farmers and technological knowhow that is vital for modern day agriculture and farming sectors. It is a thing of concern and people as well as the concerned departments must come forward to address this issue at the earliest so as to pick pace and try catching up with other UT’s and states of the union.
The agriculture sector, rather industry, need to be prioritized both at micro as well as macro levels especially when 1/6thof GDP is constituted by Agriculture production. In the fields, farmers are still very traditional and often appear dissatisfied with the net result of their produce which is actually due to their own laidback attitude and their reluctance to try and utilize the vast technological advances the world has achieved.
The uncertainty is looming large over the agriculture sector here due to various factors including crop failures and vagaries of climate. The debit ridden farmers’ often switch over and chose avenues that are easier to pursue and have a guaranteed income- no matter how insignificant the dividends are. This is a growing trend here and most of the people associated with farming are rapidly getting consumed into fields other than their own sector. With the result, most of our agriculture lands are fast turning into barren plots or people illegally use them for construction purposes. One can see that the agricultural lands are shrinking at a rapid pace and given this scenario, we may have very little agriculture and cultivable land left after a decade or so.
The credit card scheme to provide support and scour to sustain the farming industry from eventualities and calamities are there but in most cases it is badly hit due to ill planning on part of farmer to manage the farming patterns .The Union budget 2020-2021 had earmarked 1.43 lakh crores for the agriculture and allied sectors which quite sufficient to uplift agriculture sector but following pandemic scenario caused manifold problems affecting farming as well as marketing and thereby causing pessimism among farmers.
Government also initiated multipronged programmes and strategies for agricultural development in the country and scores of schemes are on anvil for carrying farming and farmer welfare schemes. Various national and international bodies and organizations have also been actively carrying latest programmes for holistic and sustainable growth and development of food requirements. The Agriculture Technological Management Agency (ATMA) is also furnishing latest technical knowhow to farmers and field staff besides ICAR, NABARD, FAO and other allied organizations which have taken the agriculture sector to new heights. All these agencies and schemes are aimed at bringing a paradigm shift in the agriculture sector and convert it from traditional to technological driven fields.
It is ironical that farmers are still resorting to old farming trends and techniques which are cumbersome and also demand more expenses coupled with diminishing returns. The agriculture field functionaries cannot absolve from their role for they too are responsible for the lack of information as well as lack of motivation among farmers. Knowing that our farmers are least exposed to the word agricultural trends, it is the officials who will have to walk an extra mile to ensure that the farmers find enough motivation to switch from traditional to technological attitude.
At gross root level, the farmers’ ignorance and reluctance to adopt new trends and varieties can be ascribed to less rapport between field workers and farmers. The old farming patterns are fraught with high expenses and this is one main reason for the farmers to get disinterested with the sector besides less market avenues for rural, far off farmers who subsequently lack marketing knowhow and processing facility also. So, they suffer loss in adverse conditions and delay is caused from harvesting to market which result in loss for them.
A large chunk of farmers are not averse to crop insurance scheme and believe that in case of any eventuality if they suffer losses, it might come in handy. These problems and issues have prescribed solutions and it is up to the field agriculture extension workers who can mitigate their problems by providing the expertise which is possible when farmers work in sync with them and develop synergy with allied organizations. The agriculture and allied departments are not working in consonance with each other’s demands. We see lack of communication and other gaps including lack of irrigation, choice of crop and seeds, optimum use of nutrients etc.
The agriculture sector in JK demands some immediate measures to safeguard it for the welfare of farmers and for a self sufficient nation for which all the concerned departments should priorities such measures so as to come to the rescue of this field. Such initiatives are much more important especially when farmers face climate change, conversion of agriculture land, climate vagaries, lack of storage and other facilities. One more serious issue to be tackled is the conversion of agriculture land into construction plots which is either due to unabated horizontal construction because of urbanization or shift of crop cultivation to other pursuits due to low economic scope of certain crops. The mobile soil testing labs need to be sent to every nook and corner and soil cards need to be distributed and their importance and utility must be discussed with farmers in detail. Also, mechanism for their updating required be raised among the farmers at appropriate times.
There is also a need to avoid soil pollution by introducing the organic manure projects which should be lunched in every block and farmer’s sensitization with regards to such an initiative is going to be the key for fruitful farming. The nexus between influential farmers and field staff need to be discouraged as it hampers the involvement of less land holders who are ultimately marginalized and never facilitated for progressive approach towards farming.
The concept of eNAM (National Agriculture and Marketing) needs to be popularized at block and Gram panchayat level for better marketing facility which can ensure suitable marketing avenues for all farmers. The bulk of high yield variegated new crops, dairy, techniques and animal husbandry need to be promoted at village level and cluster level also and villages may be adopted for various framing initiatives. Adarash Gram concept must also be wholeheartedly initiated in every district of JK and under the ambit of Pradhan Mantri Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojna govt has to adopt various villages which will become model Agriculture-villages.
The recent initiative of Govt of India’s Kissan Pakawada is a welcome step for flow of advancement in agriculture so as to double the income of farmers. But good results are possible when agriculture extension workers show enthusiasm and team spirit to carry forward these programmes by taking farmers on board and motivating them empathetically. This is possible when department supervises the farming patterns and techniques. We have high expectations from highly qualified and expert agriculture technocrats for transferring their expertise to farmers but that will mature only when all the stakeholders work in synergy. The agriculture sector has potential to meet the employment and economic demands of all the strata’s of society only when it is explored on modern lines and prioritized by the policy makers as well as the concerned departments.
The writer is a teacher