Gargi Parsai

Significant shortfall in conducting training, on-farm testing

NEW DELHI: Fifty-two per cent of Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and on-farm testing service of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), were still demonstrating old crop varieties released between 1948 and 1997 in frontline demonstrations on oilseeds and pulses. As a result, the latest crop varieties and technologies did not reach the farmers’ fields, the Comptroller Auditor General has observed in the report for the year ending March, 2007.

The report was tabled in Parliament on Friday.

The ICAR is responsible for conducting extension activities like demonstration, testing and transferring farm technologies from research institutes to farmers’ fields.

The performance audit of the extension activities of the ICAR during the tenth plan revealed that there was significant shortfall in conducting technical activities like training, frontline demonstrations and on-farm testing for farmers, the report said.

The results of the frontline demonstrations being conducted by the KVKs showed that the demonstrated practices were not cost-effective for adoption by farmers. The total expenditure of the ICAR for its extension activities during the tenth five-year plan was Rs 834.77 crore.

Further, the report pointed out that only 0.34 per cent of the total rural youth trained were able to gain self-employment. “Inadequate training courses were being conducted for practicing farmers, rural youth and extension functionaries,” the report said in a scathing criticism of the ICAR.

It said that monitoring, evaluation and overall management of KVKs were inadequate and needed to be strengthened. The Agriculture Technology Information Centres (ATICs) were not fully successful in providing a single-window supporting delivery system for the availability of technology products, diagnostic services and technology information to the farmers and other end users.

The basic eligibility criteria such as proper site selection, minimum requirement of cultivable land (for demonstrations), mortgage of land were not followed in the establishment of KVKs. Further, there were delays in development, non-utilisation and misutilisation of infrastructural facilities in KVKs.

The National Research Centre for Women in Agriculture (NRCWA), which is also an agency for frontline demonstrations for women, did not undertake 70 per cent of its activities during the tenth plan. It did not create a data base on gender specific information, identify hazards in agricultural operations and develop need-based technologies for women. The report has categorically stated that the extension activities of the ICAR needed to be over-hauled to ensure better transfer and adoption level of farm technologies and for enhancement of productivity.