While focusing on the importance of agriculture extension services in India, highlight the challenges faced in implementing it. Discuss the role of National Mission on Agricultural Extension and Technology (NMAET) in this context.
Agriculture extension services refer to information and education, as well as other supporting services to farmers, to help enhance agricultural productivity and efficiency, e.g. M-Kisan (mobile based information).
Importance of extension services:
- Availability of correct information to help make informed decisions on crops, such as m-Kisan provides information about climate vagaries.
- Information about new technologies in agriculture field to increase productivity, such as hybrid seed varieties, mechanization, etc.
- Support correct decision making with respect to use of agricultural inputs, e.g. Soil health cards for optimum use of fertilizers, water, pesticides, etc.
- Better prices realization action through informed access to markets, prevailing rates, etc, e.g. ITC’s e-Chaupal for better farm incomes.
Challenges in provisioning agricultural extension services:
- Lack of internet services in remote rural areas.
- Lack of access of smart devices to farmers.
- Low expenditure on research and development in agriculture sector, e.g. limited data on region wise impact of climate on crops.
- Lack of a dedicated authority with mandate to enhance quality of extension services.
- Poor literacy rate among farmers.
- Lack of interest of youth in agricultural education.
National Mission on agricultural extension services:
- Bridge infrastructural deficit, through appropriate technologies at farm level.
- New methods of information dissemination based on outreach and interaction.
- Capacity building in agriculture sector.
- Strengthen institutions to deliver services, promote mechanization.
- Research and development on seed varieties, climate vagaries, for informed inputs.
NMAET, complemented with increased R&D in agriculture can help in achieving the goal of doubling farmers’ income.