With 60 per cent of field functionaries missing from the State’s agricultural extension programme, the fruits of research and technology development have not been reaching farmers, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore, K. Narayana Gowda said on Tuesday. The State’s 747 Raitha Samparka Kendras established in each hobli were supposed to include trained farm extension staff who guide farmers on best practices and help with technology transfer; but 60 per cent of these posts were vacant, he told presspersons here. “And wherever these functionaries exist, they are not adequately competent on key technical areas such as plant protection.”

While there was a shortfall in extension staff, many trained people were unwilling to work in villages, Dr. Gowda said. “Information communication technology (ICT) could be an option to fill this gap and to communicate information, especially on skill-based technology,” he said.

A four-day international conference on ‘Extension educational strategies for sustainable agricultural development’, to be held on the UAS-B campus from Thursday, would identify strategies to fill gaps in extension work. Eminent agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan would be the chief guest at the inauguration.

Natural resource management, women as future farmers, innovative approaches for market-led research and the scope and limitations of ICT in farm extension would be some of the themes to be discussed at the conference.

International conference on extension educational strategies from tomorrow