Farmer to farmer information sharing .. most effective

Many innovations by agricultural scientists and dynamic farmers are not reaching the actual farmers or targeted groups due to lack of communication. So the benefits of such innovations have not yielded many possible results. The agriculture extension wings of both the agriculture department and the universities are trying to pass on the new technologies to the farming communities through media like newspapers, magazines, television, All India Radio, etc, and even through training, workshops and seminars. All these practices were able to communicate the new technologies only to a limited number in a huge population of the farming community. In my knowledge and experience better results have been obtained when the same were demonstrated on farmers’ fields. Farmers accept these technologies when they watch them working on a farmer’s field than in a research station demonstration.  Publicity about the adoption and its success in such a farmer’s trial is very important so that a huge population can know, visit and get convinced. A similar trial on the system of Rice Intensification, also known as the Madagascar method of Rice cultivation, was practiced on my farm during July 2002 and December 2002 and was written about in the Prajavani weekly magazine and spoken about on AIR.

800 farmers from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have visited my farm and 40 of them are already practicing this method and another 150 farmers want to adopt the same during February 2003. Again such new technologies have to be discussed in the Grama Panchayat and Grama Sabha meetings. The Sthree Shakthi groups (SSG) have to be educated more to enable more women to participate and insist that their men folk too adopt such new technologies.

Since NGO’s have more contacts with farmers than any other government extension services, the government should co-ordinate their extension services through NGOs for better implementation and results. During the last 3 years, several organic farmers have formed district level organizations to share and discuss their experience in organic farming. The first one started at Hassan district followed by Tumkur, Bangalore rural and Kolar. One Sunday in each district, about 150 to 400 farmers assemble at a farmer’s field who hosts them free of cost, and the next month’s host at the meeting itself. Even though some small donations ranging from Rs. 250 to Rs.1000 towards the cost of food is made,  usually no host farmer accepts this money.  The association uses this amount for printing and postage charges.  Many farmers bring seeds and plants as gifts for the host farmers and also for free distribution among the participants. Not only knowledge and experiences are shared among the farmer participants but they also have to follow some good habits which could bring honor and respect for the farming community. I know some similar farmers’ group in Tamil Nadu at district and even at taluk level, who are continuing very good traditional agricultural practices in a big way without any money being spent on these assemblies. Now farmers all over the world have understood the bad effects of high cost external inputs and its effects on productivity, and the ensuing environmental damages, and are fast changing towards eco-friendly Organic Farming.

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