( April-May 1999 issue)
- A New Era in Agricultural Extension in India
Warna Wired village Project connects 70 villages in Maharashtra, India with each other and
to the rest of the world through the Internet.
project has been initiated to serve the information needs, of the farmers on different
crop cultivation practices of major crops,pest and disease control,marketing information
,dairy and sugarcane processing
Warna Nagar, a cluster of 70
villages in Maharashtra is a central eye of the "Wired Villages"project. In
1960, a visionary like Tahasaheb Kore propagated the idea of co-operatives in Warna Nagar,
as a method of achieving socio-economic development. He showed how this could bring all
the farmers together, to share information, increase productivity, and profits. Thus was
born the "Warna Nagar Co-Operative Society". The society has a Chairman and a
Board of Members and is free from political influence and society members are free to
elect the board members. There are about eight sub co-operative bodies, working under this
main society viz.; Warna Dairy Development Society, Warna Co-operative Bank, Warna Foods,
Warna Women's Co-operative society etc. Sugarcane is major crop of this area and most of
the sugar production of the two districts Kolhapur and Sangli is processed at this
Society. From each village 200 - 300 farmers are registered as society members.
The "Wired Village"
project was initiated by Mr. Vinay Kore, the son of Mr. Tahasaheb Kore and the present
Chairman of the Warna Co-operative Society two years ago and actual implementation began
in April 1998. The Project has been jointly implemented by GOI through National
Informatics Centre (NIC), Government of Maharashtra and warna Co-operative Society with
the share of financial support being in the ratio of 50:40:10. The manpower and
maintenance cost is borne by the Warna Co-operative Society itself. The project area is a
cluster of 70 villages consisting of 46 villages from Kolhapur and 24 villages from Sangli
districts of Maharashtra.
This project has been
initiated to serve the information needs on different crop cultivation practices of major
crops, sugarcane cultivation practices, pest and disease control, marketing information,
dairy and sugarcane processing information etc. to the farmers, right up to their village
NIC, Pune was involved in
setting-up the hardware and software and NIC, Delhi established connectivity of WAN links
such as VSAT and dial-up connections. The software required for the system such as web
page designing, database designing and client based applications used by the farmers such
as dairy, sugarcane information systems had been developed by the NIC, Pune.
The Central Hub, which is the
main server station of "Wired Villages" is situated in Tahasaheb Kore Institute
of Engineering Technology at Warna Nagar.This is equipped with servers based on Pentium II
with 64 MB RAM, 4.1 GB hard disk and 32x CD-ROM drive. The 64 KBPS bandwidth VSAT
connection has been established as a gateway WAN link to NIC, Pune for connecting into
their network and into global network. This enables the main computer center to down load
information from NIC, Pune or the global network for latest information. The router is
used to establish a WAN link to remote computer booths from the main computer centre.
Presently the router supports 10 simultaneous connections i.e. 10 users can access
information at a time.
The Computer Booths are
serving as information centers for the farmers in their villages. The computer booth is
operator by the booth operator and he is the main linkage between the farmers and
information gateway center. The information sought relates to crops cultivation practices,
land development, pesticides, diseases control details, marketing details, bills payments
positions of sugarcane and dairy etc. Currently forty-six computer booths are functioning
in Kolhapur and meeting the information needs of the farmers. In remaining 24 villages of
Sangli district, computer booths and hardware was setup, and are waiting to link to
Central Server Station.
Apart from information
retrieval, there are two client-based applications, to serve the farmers needs. They are
(1) Dairy Information System (2) Sugarcane Information System.
In Dairy Information System,
the information on all the farmers, who are part of the dairy system is maintained. Other
details available to members of the dairy cooperatives include the quantity of milk
supplied by each farmer, fat content, their billing information and credit details etc.
This information is maintained and updated at the central database on daily basis.
In Sugarcane Information
System, information on shareholders is maintained. About 200-350 shareholders are there in
each village for sugar cane crop. This system maintains the details of the cultivation
schedule, quantity harvested and supplied to the society, deductions effected by the
Society towards credit, net income due to the farmers is available with respect to each
Every village is also linked
with the Directorate of Marketing in Pune, which facilitates farmers in getting
information on rates of vegetables, fruits and other crops.
The computer booths are
provided with a Pentium II computer having 64 MB ram, 2 GB hard disk, printer and a UPS
power backup system. A dial-up connectivity with a modem and telephone line has been used
to connect the main computer center to retrieve the information, send the queries,
grievances to the central server station. The speed of dial-up connection is around 19200
BPS to 28000 BPS and average connectivity time is about 10 seconds. Telephone charge of
around Rs. 350/-, is paid by village level society.
Information Technology Centre
Six Information technology
Centers have been established to give training to staff, students and farmers of the
village. These centers also function as computer booths and are maintained by a booth
operator. The Centers have been provided with six Pentium II computers with configuration
of Pentium II, 64-Mb RAM, 2GB hard disk and a dot-matrix printer. A dial-up connectivity
with modem and telephone line has been used to connect the central server station to
retrieve information, send the queries, grievances to the main center.
NIC, Pune has developed a
Computer Based Question Bank, in the local language "Marathi" which will be used
to test the Computer knowledge awareness of the students of 5th to 10th
standard. These students are being trained to get acquainted with the computer systems.
Testing will be in subjects covered in the school like mathematics, science etc. and a
certain percentage of marks will be awarded from this test to the final marks of the
students. A batch consisting of 5 students will be examined for 1 hour. This center also
serves as a computer booth. NIIT is engaged in helping create CDs on different topics
which when available will be used at these centres for interactive coaching.
The team from MANAGE which carried out the
study also had the opportunity to interact with farmers, field operators and booth
The field officer Mr.
Kulkarni V.V., Agriculture Officer, Panhala village at Kolhapur district. expressed that Cyber-Extension
would be the major form of technology dissemination in the near future and added that the
advantages of the WAN systems were on spot data availability for different purposes ,
avoidance of unnecessary movement of farmers from their home village to data center for
different purposes., and access to all the information at village level.
An interaction with a few
farmers in villages of Paragoam, Kuralap, Bhariwadi etc. indicated that farmers like the
concept. They believe that the information from Wired Computers (WAN) is major source of
getting information on crop technology. The ranking given by the farmers for source of
information on crop technology, ranks wired computers as the best source followed by field
officers and staff, radio &TV, print media and company sales persons. They agree that
WAN provides all necessary information on cultivation technology and market situation
etc., information is timely, the language is understandable as it is in the local Marati
language, information is reliable and it's not costly. They also agree that it is
beneficial not only for big farmers but also for marginal and small farmers. The farmers
are expecting some more features to be added like processing of all loan, legal documents
etc. from their village wired computers. The farmers are also ready to learn operating
computers, if any training is given and are ready to contribute any marginal amount
necessary for the maintenance and up-keep of the system.
Booth operators of Paragoam,
Bhairwadi, Kuralap and Panhala informed that an average of 20-25 farmers visit the
computer booths every day for information on crop cultivation practices and disease
control, marketing, dairy and sugarcane billing details etc.
Bhaskar, G. and Venkateshwar Rao, K., Research Associates, MANAGE, March 1999).
Study visit to Michigan State University
V.P. Sharma, Dr. M.N. Reddy, Mrs. G. Jaya and Dr. M.A. Kareem faculty membres of MANAGE
were deputed for a 2-week study visit to Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA
during March 25 - April 10, 1999. The purpose of the visit was to study Participatory
Extension Management Systems and Distance Learning in Michigan State. The team
was given an orientation on Worldwide Extension Systems and Land Grants Systems in
USA since its inception in 1855 and its operational mechanism at Federal, State and
Country level at present. Dr. Arlen Leholm, Director of Extension and Dr. Murari
Suvedi, Associate Professor, Michigan State Uniersity Extension (MSUE) briefed the team on
the innovative concept of Area of Expertise Teams (AOE) in Michan State. As part of
the field visits, the team visited two country offices at Kent and Traverse city and three
University research stations viz., Kellog biological station at Hickry Corners, Southwest
Michigan reseach and Extension Centre, Benton Harbor and Northwest Michigan Horticultural
Research Station at Traverse City.
the field visits, the team had indepth discussions with Country extension Directors,
Extension Agents, Research Scientists and Farmres, who have been associated with AOE
Teams. The response of Extension Agents at country level was particularly very
positive on AOE Team concept as they ahve an opportunity to constantly interact with
University scientists and innovative farmers in respective areas.
MSU, the team was also given exposure to the use of state-of-the-art Information and
Communication systems to improve the efficiency of the Extension System. MSU is
connected on two-way Desktop Video Conferencing (DVC) with all its research stations and
selected countries. Every Wednesday the DVC is necessarily used to review weekly
programmes and progress on any pending problems. Apart from producing videos on
different themes MSU also prepares bulletins for Michigan Radio and Television. All
the country and extension agents are connected to the main campus through e-mail.
team was also sensitised on the key importance of participation of all the stakeholders in
planning, implementation and evaluation of the extension and research programmes of the
University. Issues like team leadership, conflict management and team building and
facilitation skills were also highlighted. The team also visited Canada to study
the extension and research systems and visit Guelph and State Directorate of Agriculture,
Ontario State. During an interaction with Dr. Ashok Seth, Task Manager, NATP of the
World Bank and other senior faculty of MSU, areas of possible collaboration between MANAGE
and MSU were identified. The areas include offering Joint Post-Graduate Diploma
Programme in Agricultural Management, Faculty Exchange Programme, Human Resources
Development for MANAGE Faculty and Consultancy on Participatory Extension Management under
MANAGE team was joined by two senior officers Dr. Veer Pal and
Mr. V.S. Pangtey from Directorate of Extension, Ministry of Agriculture,
New Delhi on the study visit.
achieves hundred per cent Placement in its Post-Graduate Programme in Agri-Business
PGPABM of MANAGE has succeeded in placing all the students of the second batch which
completed the programme this year in reputed national and multinational agri-business
companies. In fact, the total requirement of all the companies that
participated in campus placement exceeded the total batch strength of 24.
profile of companies as well as the average package of compensation this year ahs been
substantially better than that of last year. As many as 15 companies have recruited
MANAGE students; several of them have been recruited directly into executive cadre whereas
the rest have been taken as Management Trainees. The companies include Britannia,
Advanta, Cyanamid, Dabour, Bayer, EID Parry, SPIC-PHI, J.K.Seeds, BASF, UPL, Wockhardt,
Frito-Lay, Monsanto, Nagarjuna Fertilizers and Chemicals, and Zuari Industries Limited.
process for admission into the programme has been made more stringent by adding tests on
written and verbal communication ability.
to previous years the response from candidates has been much wider, with applications
coming from almost all States.
students of the junior batch have secured interesting and challenging summer placement
assignments from reputed agri-business companies. While in the previous two
years the summer projects have been mostly in the area of Marketing of agri-inputs,
this year companies like Novartis, Agricultural Finance Corporation and Mahyco have
given challenging assignments in areas of Finance, Project Appraisal and HRD.
The companies which offered summer project assignments this year include Monsanto, Bayer,
EID-Parry, SPIC-PHI, Dabour, Mahyco, Wockhardt, Novartis, JK Seeds, Clause International,
Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) and New Holland Tractors.
of the PGPABM Curriculum
growing interest of the agri-business companies in the PGPABM and the widening awareness
of the student community has put additional responsibility of bringing about
significant qualitative upgradation of the programme curriculum. In pursuance of
this commitment to excellence, intensive review of all the courses is being taken in
phases. In the marketing segment, 3 new courses on Marketing Research, Sales and
Distribution Management and a workshop on 'Selling Skills' have been added, besides
redesigning the existing 5 courses. Likewise, the Finance and Accounts segment has
also been reviewed and the courses restructured. Review process for the rest of the
courses is also being taken up. It is planned to complete the review and
restructuring by July, before the commencement of the 1999-2001 batch programme.