Agriculture: Krishi Vigyan Kendras

No unanimity on utility

No unanimity on utility

Deepender Deswal

KRISHI Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) were established with a view to bridge the gap between the farmers and the technological advancements in the agriculture sector. These kendras are provided with infrastructure and manpower to reach out to the farmers in their fields. The basic purpose has been the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the farmer’s field under the lab-to-land programme.

On the right track

HAU Vice Chancellor Prof Samar Singh says Haryana has 19 KVKs working under the supervision of the university’s Directorate of Extension Education. “Extension activities are being carried out by the directorate through its KVKs to cater to the needs of the farmers and bridge the gap between technology transfer and its adoption,” he says.

However, agriculture experts opine that KVKs remain underutilised and have not been able to fulfil their potential optimally. A section of the farmers says they need the help of experts in making agriculture sustainable, adding that the functioning of the KVKs should be reviewed to make them efficient and approachable to the farmers.

Some farmers say they have rarely interacted with scientists of KVKs. They claim that KVK officials hardly ever visit their villages to give them guidance or expert advice. Raman Deep, a young farmer of Kirtan village in Hisar district, says he has heard about the KVKs but doesn’t know how to gain access to them. “I have been trying to innovate to boost my income as sowing of wheat and cotton is no longer profitable. Farmers visit Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University (HAU) at Hisar for seed, soil testing etc. It’s high time the KVKs become proactive and get closer to the farmers,” says Raman Deep, who owns five acres.

Some KVKs are trying to help farmers who seek advice and assistance from the scientists. Narender, who owns four acres in Fatehabad’s Dharnia village, credits the KVK for his success in seed development.

Dr Sardul Singh Mann, coordinator at the KVK in Fatehabad, claims they have been able to encourage farmers to switch to mustard cultivation in a big way. “Mustard cultivation has almost doubled — from 10,000 hectares to 19,000 hectares — in Fatehabad in a decade. Besides, there are many farmers like Narender who have become successful with the technology transfer via KVK. During the sowing season, around 200 farmers visit the kendra in a month,” he says.

Dr Ramkumar, an agriculture expert, says KVKs have turned into white elephants across Haryana. “Despite deploying experts drawing hefty salaries, the KVKs are a failure. KVKs amount to wastage of government funds,” he adds.

Dr Ramkumar says these institutes have failed to bridge the gap between farmers and farm scientists. “The government and the agricultural university must review the functioning and performance of KVKs,” he says. According to him, agriculture development officers (ADOs) can do far a better job in the interests of farmers. “But the state government has failed to fill the vacancies of the ADOs for a long time. I have taken up the issue with successive agriculture ministers of Haryana.”

Ramandeep Singh Mann, an engineer-turned-progressive farmer, mentioned in a recent tweet that the sanctioned strength of ADOs in Haryana is 1070, of which 655 posts are lying vacant for years. “These posts should be filled soon as the ADOs are there to help/assist farmers,” he says.

The HAU Vice Chancellor, Prof Samar Singh, says KVKs are part of the National Agricultural Research and Extension System, whose strength lies in its multi-disciplinary composition, multi-stakeholder ownership and multifarious activities.

“KVKs are working in close coordination with the stakeholders, the state Department of Agriculture and allied agencies to provide long-term solutions through our farm advisory, farm testing, training and farm information services,” he says.

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