Krishi Channel: Necessary but not sufficient

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THE GOVERNMENT of India has recently launched the 24/7 Krishi Channel of Doordarshan to provide agriculture related information and know how to farmers. Good for farmers. However, the novel move was lost in the boisterous noise created by more political and TRP grabbing issues such as ‘Vyapam Scam’ and ‘Lalitgate’. But it is necessary to pause for a moment and think about the status of the two-third population of the country, which is toiling out in farmland to eke out two square meals a day.

Many of us grew with Krishi Darshan show, which runs daily on the national television. The program provides useful information about which seeds to use, how to irrigate the land, how to take care of crops, which fertilizer or pesticides to use and how to benefi t from various government programs for farmers. The moot question, however, is what impact this or any other
such shows have had on the agriculture of the country. May be a little, for those lucky few who had electricity supply in their villages and who were rich enough to afford television. But for most, none of this made any sense.

Why is India’s agriculture in such a pathetic state? Many even refuse to believe that agrarian India has a problem, citing record production, rising exports and generous hikes in minimum support prices. But then, why are farmers committing suicide? Why are they selling their children to stay alive? At once, agriculture is an economic and well as human and social issue in India.

The broad fact is that government has bungled big time in managing agriculture and farm related polices for decades. Beyond Green Revolution, it has not delivered anything on ground by way of policies, assistance or infrastructure. If anything, it has imposed the market ineffi ciency through APMC Act. To show, the governments for decades has had loan waiver schemes and hikes in minimum support prices. However, it is an open secret that both of these are tools, not for improving the lives of farmers, but to beguile them to vote for the powers of the day. As for food management, the procurement of foodgrains is the handy tool to crow about, so what if the bloated foodstock is being eaten away by rats and rotting by rain because there is no place to store them.

Illiteracy, poor health and lack of support has been the bane of Indian farmer. When world has moved beyond mechanization to think in terms of organic and sustainable farming with minimal resource requirement, Indian farmer is still looking at sky for rain and rickety animals to plough the land. Seed quality is a dream and technical know how unheard of, even though there are officials appointed for the job.

The immediate intervention at human level is the immediate need besides physical infrastructure development in form of irrigation systems and market development. Majority of farmers are not capable to even watch TV and learn from it the methods of farming. They have to be reached on their farm and be taught there. The government officials need to fan out to farm to hear the farmer’s problem in his language and teach him in his own language. That would make a difference. The Krishi Channel is a necessary but not sufficient move. It has to be backed by enough foot on ground where action is. The idea of “Labs to Land” would be real game changer if the research can actually percolate to the ground and the technical people interact with the farmers to provide know how.

The Gen Next Summit organized by Governance Today in Raipur was a big success. Inaugurated by Honourable Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, the Summit was attended by the bigwigs of government, bureaucracy, industry and media. We thank all of you for your support and encouragement for the events.