Farm varsity students stayed for three months in a village in Hassan taluk and promoted scientific farming methods

For the group of nine students, it was a different experience in the last three months. They were out of the classroom, right in the field of learning. Taking what they experimented with in their labs to the land, these students acquired the experience of working with farmers.

The University of Agriculture Sciences last year introduced the Rural Agriculture Work Experience (RAWE) programme for its students. As part of it, the students have to spend three months in a village with the farmers, actually working in the fields to complete their degree. The final year students of the Agriculture College located at Karekere near Hassan had deputed 156 students in different batches to eight villages in two taluks – Hassan and Channarayapatana.

A group of nine students – Abhilasha, Akshatha Shetty, Akshitha, Alok Y.G., Ambareesh, Annapurna, Arjuna, Ashwitha and Ataulla — stayed at Markuli village in Hassan taluk for three months. They conducted a survey of the village in July and collected data about the extent of agriculture land and crop pattern followed in the land and assessed awareness about scientific farming among farmers.

G. Nagesh, one of the coordinators of RAWE, said that preliminary survey was necessary to prepare an action plan for the activities spread over three months. “Each student was allotted five farmers. That student kept in touch with the farmers and assisted them in all agriculture-related operations.”

Yield improves

Potato, maize and ginger are the major crops cultivated by farmers of Markuli. For last few years the potato growers have not got average yield due to late blight, a fungal infection. “Despite spray of medicines we did not get good yield in the past years. This time the yield is better as we followed the instructions of the students,” said Suresh, a farmer in the village.

Y.G. Alok, a student, sharing his experience, said that farmers were spraying fungicides twice. But it was not sufficient to tackle the disease. “We helped them with the chemical combination and suggested that they spray four times. This saved the crop. Otherwise we could not have stopped spread of the disease,” he said. Similarly the students succeeded in tackling soft-rot disease affecting ginger crop.

“Memorable experiences during the stay in the village include the appreciation we received from farmers when we were able to help them get better yield with our knowledge acquired in classrooms and laboratories of the college,” said Ataulla, another student.

The students were a bit worried when they entered the village for the three-month stay. But they were impressed by the villagers’ response.

“The people looked after us as members of their family. Our stay in the village was a memorable period of our life. Moreover, we learnt many things about agriculture from farmers,” said Akshatha Shetty.

Siddagangaiah, horticulture scientist and faculty in the college, said that the students have developed a crop museum, conducted demonstration on azolla cultivation, did vermicomposting and held crop seminars. “These activities have helped spread awareness among farmers regarding scientific cultivation,” he added.