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AK Singh, Deputy Director General (Agricultural Extension), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) today highlighted the need to have a long-term strategy that would reduce the vulnerability of the farming community and accelerate agriculture development.
Speaking at the ‘National Conference on Agriculture Extension’ organised by FICCI, Dr Singh said that public and private sector should come together to facilitate the adoption of efficient agriculture extension system for a robust agricultural growth. He also highlighted the need for a focused and strategically designed policy reforms that would increase the outreach for extension agents to large number of agriculture population.
Although public-private-partnership (PPP) models do exist in agriculture extension, Dr Singh opined that PPP can still be explored to its full potential. There is a major gap in the availability of the extension agents for the farmers. It is here that the private sector can come forward and plug in the gap.
Dr SD Attri, DDG, India Meteorological Department (IMD), Government of India stressed upon the need to use technology and tools with agro-eco region-based land use and weather-based Agro Met advisory services to help farmers and reduce weather-related losses. He apprised that currently, IMD is rendering weather forecast based Agromet Advisory Services (AAS) to the farmers at district level through 130 Agro-Met Field Units (AMFUs) located at agriculture universities, ICAR, IITs in each agro-climatic zone.
He further added that Agromet advisories have benefited farmers in increasing profits and reducing risks. As per survey report conducted by National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER 2015), the service has the potential of generating net economic benefit up to Rs. 3.3 lakh crore on 22 principal crops when AAS is applied throughout the country.
Dr Attri also highlighted that dissemination of information under extreme weather condition plays a vital role in minimising crop losses. He stressed upon the need to enhance the accuracy of weather forecasts and to make the AAs more useful, considering user friendliness advised by the farm households and also issue advisories for livestock, poultry, fisheries among other related sectors. For this purpose, awareness programmes are key to help the farmers to become more self-reliant in dealing with weather and climate issues that affect the agriculture production. A participatory, cross-disciplinary approach to delivering climate and weather information and enhancing the awareness of information user group is needed to be deployed.
The conference largely focused upon the current scenario where there is a need for more demand driven and responsive technology transfer system which will help farmers to organise themselves as well as provide linkage to markets. The conference also focused on various successful extension models adopted by farmers producer organisations (FPOs) and NGOs as a solution for extending their services to reach large number of farmers with limited time and effort.