For over 25 years, broadcaster Rajagopal has served as the first source of information to farmers of Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts about crop cultivation techniques, pest control management and other agricultural technologies, writes T.S. Atul Swaminathan

Radio is still the medium of choice in villages, and offers the greatest potential for serving agriculture-dependent and rural populations. That explains the incredible fan following R. Rajagopal enjoys in Kancheepuram, Thiruvallur, Vellore, Thiruvanamalai and Dharmapuri districts.

Farmers in these districts tune in to All India Radio at 6.25 a.m., a good ten minutes before Rajagopal’s programme goes on air. Rajagopal is programme executive with the farm and home section of AIR, but his listeners know him as the man with an encyclopaedic breath of knowledge about agriculture, farm-based co-operative societies, water issues and dams, animal husbandry, veterinary sciences, forestry, fisheries, rural development and weather.

Since 1987, Rajagopal has been dealing with these subjects on a slew of programmes, which includes ‘Veedum Vayalum’, ‘Mannum Manamum’, ‘Uzhavargalukkana Seidhigal’ (news for farmers) and ‘Virivakka Paniyaalargalukku’ (extension workers).

Apart from updates and latest trends on Agriculture, he gives a detailed picture of schemes offered by the central and state governments, airs interviews of beneficiaries, and success stories of agro workers for the benefit of farmers.

“The farm and home unit of AIR, Chennai, was inaugurated by then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M. G. Ramachandran, on October 2, 1977. The unit was started with a view to serving the farming community by motivating them through sustained broadcasts, to help farmers adopt and practise scientific methods of cultivation for increasing food production, and for rural economic development,” says Rajagopal.

The broadcasts serve as a bridge between farmers and scientists. They provide technical solutions and support to the farmers’ problems, he points out.

The farm and home unit conducts regular farmer-scientist meetings across the State.

“I tour various districts, including tribal villages in hilly areas, to meet the farmers, to share their experiences in farming operations, and study their problems,” says Rajagopal.

The unit also conducts a ‘Farm School’ on a season-oriented topic for farmers in collaboration with the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University and Tamil Nadu Agricultural Department. The lessons are conducted over a period of 13 weeks.

At the end of the course, a one-day contact class for the farmers of Thiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Vellore, and Thiruvanamalai districts are conducted.

“We are marching towards a second Green Revolution with the area of cultivation dwindling and the population rising. There should be sustainable agriculture. Technology is essential to increase the crop yield,” he says, adding that rural youth should pursue agriculture and play a crucial role in food security.

R. Rajagopal is a recipient of Best Service Recognition Award by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in 1999-2000, Akashvani Annual Awards for Programme and Technical Excellence in 2000 for Tamil Farm and Home Programme ‘Marabin Maindhargal’ and for the Tamil Farm and Home Programme ‘Aaraachi Kanda Arputhangal’ in 2006.

He received the first prize in Akashvani Annual Awards in 2007 in the Farm and Home category for Aaraaichi Purtachi (Research Revolution).

R. Rajagopal can be contacted at 9444040084.

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