The University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, has drawn up an ambitious plan for the New Year to increase the yield and double the income of farmers through various innovative methods, including formation of village-level crop-based growers’ associations in the districts coming under its jurisdiction.

Disclosing this to The Hindu, UAS Vice-Chancellor K. Narayana Gowda said that the focus was to make farmers self-reliant and also instil a sense of confidence in them to arrest migration to urban areas in search of menial jobs as that may pose a threat to the country’s food security besides denting the economy itself.

Underscoring the importance of crop-based growers’ associations, he said that this would help farmers in 20 tasks — right from procuring agricultural inputs to marketing and value addition.

Dr. Narayana Gowda, who earlier won the national award of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research for his work as the head of a pilot project of the Union Department of Biotechnology that used such growers’ associations, among other interventions, to increase farmers’ incomes in 75 villages of Doddaballapur taluk, recalled that it had been possible to increase farmers’ incomes three-fold under that project.

Explaining how growers’ associations help farmers, he said that they were spending heavily on transportation costs — getting sowing seeds, fertilizer, and taking their produce to market. But when done in a group, the cost of transportation would come down.

Similarly, taking the produce to market in a group would help in bargaining for better prices. Also, the groups would help share experience and knowledge, he said.

He pointed out that the formation of a jackfruit growers’ association in Tubagere hobli of Doddaballapur taluk had led to farmers getting remunerative prices for their produce due to collective marketing.

Such associations would also help create conducive atmosphere in villages, he said. However, the university could only provide a model and motivate the farmers to form such groups, while it is the farmers and development agencies which have to play a crucial role in such a process, he said.

The university has also decided to broad-base its extension activities by involving innovative farmers in not only spreading their own innovations but also creating awareness among fellow farmers about the latest crop patterns, technologies and also facilities being provided by the government. Involving innovative farmers in extension activities would help in effective dissemination of information.

Besides, such innovative farmers would be available round the clock for any assistance as they would be staying in the same or nearby village.

At present, the grassroots extension work was suffering as it was difficult to get people willing to reside in villages to be available to farmers as and when they needed them, he said.