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( April-May 1999 issue)                    MANAGE Bulletin


                Cyber-Extension - A New Era in Agricultural Extension in India

Warna Wired Village

The Warna Wired village Project connects 70 villages in Maharashtra, India with each other and to the rest of the world through the Internet.

This 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 level.

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.

Network Connectivity

Central Hub

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.

Computer Booths

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 shareholder.

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 operators.

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.

(Study by Bhaskar, G. and Venkateshwar Rao, K., Research Associates, MANAGE, March 1999).

Study visit to Michigan State University

Dr. 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.

During  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.

At 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.

The 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 NATP.

The 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.


MANAGE achieves hundred per cent Placement in its Post-Graduate Programme in Agri-Business Management (PGPABM)

The 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.

The 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.

Selection Procedure

Selection process for admission into the programme has been made more stringent by adding tests on written and verbal communication ability.

Compared to previous years the response from candidates has been much wider, with applications coming from almost all States.

Summer Placements

The 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.

Restructuring of the PGPABM Curriculum

The 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. 


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