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Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Innovations in Rural Development Management - APJA Address @ Bangalore 01.11.08

“Innovation is the key
for non-linear growth”
I am delighted to be with the Students and Faculty Members of University of Agricultural Sciences and the citizens of Karnataka. I am happy to be in your midst on the occasion of Karnataka Rajyotsawa.
You have been serving the cause of agriculture through education, training and research for more than 4 decades. I visited your website which is quite interesting and informative. I would suggest that you add a separate section for interaction with farmers, so that you can build some case studies for education and research for syllabus enrichment. Whenever I interact with people of any age group and particularly the youth, I find a fair proportion of the questions are on agriculture, rural development, increasing earning capacity and above all how to make the 600,000 villages of our country where 70% of our people live prosperous.
You are blessed with the prospects of contributing significantly to these areas and my best wishes to you. While I am with you, I would like to discuss the topic “Innovation in Rural Development Management”.
Farmers’ problems and solutions
During the last few years, based on my several visits to all the states and union territories and my individual interactions with farmers at Rashtrapathi Bhavan and different villages, I would summarize some of the problems faced by the farmers as follows:
o Indian agricultural productivity has remained stagnant.
o Land holdings per farmer have come down.
o Farmers are not keen to encourage their children into taking agriculture.
o Large scale migration from the rural area to town and cities.
o Severe scarcity of knowledge personnel in the rural sector.
o Difficulty in getting assured quality inputs.
o Farmers are under the clutches of money lenders.
o High technology has not percolated to the grassroot level.
I have been propagating the following Solutions.
o Schemes for providing the thrust to the agriculture to be sanctioned with a mission mode programme and management structure.
o Embed periodic review for mid-course corrections if required. Banks have to become farmer friendly.
o Co-operatives to supply certified quality unadulterated inputs like quality seeds, fertilizer and pesticides.
o Marketing systems for the farmer without middleman. Scientists to become partners to farmers for realizing higher productivity.
o ICT has to enable the farmers to enhance productivity, value addition and better marketing.
I would like you form small working groups on each of the problems, deliberate the solutions suggested and send me emails on your considered recommendations.
Economic development: Transforming India into a developed nation
As you are aware that large part of the growth of our GDP comes from manufacturing and services sector and the agriculture has been growing at a much lower rate. If we have to uplift the 220 million people living below poverty line and provide improved quality of life, we have to ensure that the agriculture sector grows at least at 4% per annum. For providing this growth, we have to spread the development process to the rural sector. What is meant by that? It means that
1. The villages must be connected within themselves and with main towns and metros through by good roads and wherever needed by railway lines. They must have other infrastructure like schools, colleges, hospitals and other amenities for the local population and the visitors. Let us call this physical connectivity.
2. In the emerging knowledge era, the native knowledge has to be preserved and enhanced with latest tools of technology, training and research. The villages have to have access to good education from best teachers wherever they are, must have the benefit of good medical treatment, must have latest information on their pursuits like agriculture, fishery, horticulture and food processing. That means they have to have electronic connectivity.
3. Once the Physical and Electronic connectivity are enabled, the knowledge connectivity is enabled. That can facilitate the ability increase the productivity, the utilization of spare time, awareness of health welfare, ensuring a market for products, increasing quality conscience, interacting with partners, getting the best equipment, increasing transparency and so in general knowledge connectivity
4. Once the three connectivities viz Physical, Electronic and knowledge connectivity are ensured, they facilitate earning capacity. How can we summarize this? When we Provide Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA), we can lead to upliftment of rural areas, we can increase agricultural productivity, we can increase value additions, we can increase earning capacity, we can attract investors, we can introduce effectively useful systems like Rural BPOs, Micro Finance.
Thus if we take up PURA as a mission, we can make villages as prosperous knowledge accumulation centers and villagers as entrepreneurs. Is this possible? Can we make PURA as an enterprise?
7000 PURA Clusters encompassing over 600,000 villages are required for the entire country. The theme of PURA, apart from concentrating on reinforcing agriculture, will emphasize on agro processing, development of Rural Craftsmanship, dairy, fishing, poultry, silk production, so that the non-farm revenue for the rural sector is enhanced, based on the core competence of the region. Also the rural economy will be driven by renewable energy such as solar, wind, bio-fuel and conversion of municipal waste into power. In this approach, the aim is to make sustainable development using the core competence of the rural sector.
PURA cluster in Karnataka
Each PURA cluster will connect about 20 villages depending upon the region and population and will cost about Rs.100 crore. After initial short-term employment during construction etc., we have to plan for initiating actions for providing regular employment and self employment opportunities in nationally competitive small enterprises in agro processing, manufacturing and services sectors for about 3000 people. If the industrial/business parks are marketed well, they can generate employment opportunities in support sector for about 10,000 people in that cluster. This will provide sustainable economy for the rural sector. In this national mission, bankers can promote entrepreneurship in the rural areas. This will lead to the removal of urban-rural divide.
In Karnataka, I had launched the Suvarna Gramodaya – Rural Development Initiative at Gulbarga on 25 February 2007. I am sure, the programme can be implemented in such a way that the thousand villages can be grouped into 20 to 30 villages each with a population of 50,000 to one lakh. Can University of Agricultural sciences consider development of PURA cluster in each of the location of its colleges?
PURA as an Enterprise: Professionals from University of Agricultural Sciences are promising candidates for becoming the chief executives for managing the PURA complexes in an integrated way. PURA enterprises can also undertake management of schools, health care units, vocational training centres, chilling plants, silos and building a market, banking system and the regional business or industrial units. A new mission mode management style has to emerge for PURA enterprises. It should not be looking for protective legislations to support them. Rather they should be efficient to compete with others. This new PURA enterprise needs partnership from the bank, from the Government and also from the private entrepreneurs. University of Agricultural Sciences can train the entrepreneur for managing the PURA as a part of their course and work with the banks for getting loans for creating and running PURAs as a business proposition. Think of public-private-civil society partnerships in these efforts.
Now let us turn to the topic of achieving 4% growth in GDP in the Agriculture sector? In our country, there are few models, and I would like to share with you one of them.
Doubling the food production – an Experience
I would like to narrate a success story which has taken place in Bihar. An experiment has been carried out by the TIFAC team in Bihar, in the RP Channel 5 and Majholi distributory and later extended to Paliganj and other 5 distributaries on the request of farmers. Today they are working systems. The productivity of paddy has increased in these villages from 2 tons per hectare to 4 – 5.8 tons per hectare and in respect of wheat productivity; it has increased from around 2 tonnes per hectare to around 4 - 5 tonnes per hectare. Presently, paddy and wheat crops are spread in an area greater than 2500 hectares involving 3000 farmers. This project has been carried out by the TIFAC, in collaboration with a farmer’s co-operative society, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) and the agricultural university in Pusa, Bihar.
Using scientific method of farming involving soil characterization, matching the right seed to soil, seeding in time, fertilizer and pesticide selection, water management, pre and post harvesting methodology productivity has been more than doubled. I am explaining this model to bring out the feasibility of transferring the knowledge from the laboratory to the farm through a cooperative venture between a dedicated team of scientists and the farmers. Moving up the value chain in agriculture through food processing is essential in the country to increase the contribution of the agriculture work force to GDP. This will result in doubling the earning capacity of the farm workers in any region of the country.
Partnership between scientists and farmers for higher productivity and income
For realizing the enhanced productivity thereby earning capacity, what is needed is the creation of a core team of agriculture scientists, veterinary scientists and commerce graduates in all the rural locations, who can provide the knowledge inputs to the farmers as has been done through the TIFAC project. This team can be linked to an educational institution in the rural sector, an active DRDA, Joint Director Agriculture available in the districts. For enhancing the productivity to over 100 million hectares in the country, we would need deployment of 50,000 young Agriculture Scientists (B.Sc Agri graduates) to double the food production, at the grass root level in the Agricultural Service Centers who will be responsible for identifying the technology gap, technology diffusion, bridging the technology gap and increasing the productivity of at least 2,000 hectares per agricultural service centre. The higher knowledge inputs for the grass root level scientists can be provided by M.Sc’s and Ph.D in agriculture sciences numbering around 2500. At the APEX level we can deploy 500 retired Agricultural executives at the rate of one scientist per district. This team should be entrusted with the responsibility of doubling the agricultural productivity of 100 million hectares within the next 3 to 5 years.
This national team has to work on a target of doubling the productivity in a time bound manner for providing knowledge inputs to the farmers for adopting the organic farming methods, correct use of quality fertilizer and pesticides, selection of seed and matching with the soil, drip irrigation, pre and post harvesting techniques, enhanced use of solar energy. The team has also got to ensure that the grain is processed into food and value added products, so that the farmers get the right revenue for their produce. The important point is that the agricultural scientists have to become partners of the farmers as done by Prof. S.K. Sinha in Bihar. Let me now talk to you another experience where seed cotton productivity has been doubled.
Reaching the Technology to the user
I am sure many of you may be aware of the Kisan Call Centre which is being operated by TCIL for Ministry of Agriculture and provides three levels of support to the farmer using the toll-free number 1551. I would think it will be useful to get a feedback from the user about this facility. Recently, I launched a national consultation on Technology Bank being established by National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD). They will be placing all the rural technologies on a website. I had suggested working out of a systematic method by which the availability of the technology is made known to the rural citizens and they are helped to adopt that technology in their field, so that they can reap the benefits of technology for enhancing the output.
While on this point of technology, I am reminded of the outreach by SEWA, an NGO in Gujarat. Working in conjunction with Indian Space Research Organisation, SEWA have six operational Gyan-Vigyan Kendra or Village Resource Centres covering 130 villages in Gujarat. These Village Resource Centres are linked up via satellite with teacher nodes such as Apollo hospital in Ahmedabad or the Anand Agricultural University. Many villagers after attending these sessions have been benefited in improving the yield of milk from cattle or delivering healthy calf or finding solutions to skin diseases through expert advice. During a recent outbreak of chickenguniya, a session presenting the symptoms, treatment and prevention techniques were orchestrated.
When I am with you, I would like to suggest the students and faculty members of the University of Agricultural Sciences to create two or three complexes in Bangalore rural district or Kolar district in partnership with Krishi Vigyan Kendras. This will give hands on experience for the graduates in Agricultural Sciences, Horticulture and Horticultural Management expert to develop sustainable rural complexes for enhancing the economic growth of Karnataka.
One of the most challenging task before us is how to double food production with reduced land, reduced water and reduced manpower. Technology is the only way to combat the situation. Specialists like you should work hand in hand with farmers to enable them to increase the yield per unit area.
One of the most challenging task before us is how to double food production with reduced land, reduced water and reduced manpower. Technology is the only way to combat the situation. Specialists like you should work hand in hand with farmers to enable them to increase the yield per unit area.
My best wishes to all the students and members of the faculty of University of Agricultural Sciences for success in their mission of accelerated rural development through innovative application of technology and management in agriculture, agro-food processing and non-farm value added product development.

May God bless you.

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam,

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