(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
October 25, 2009
Put On Hold the Ill-Conceived Move on Technology Transfer: AIKS
THE Kisan Sabha condemns the government efforts to take forward its agenda of dismantling extension services in agriculture. Shirking off government responsibility from providing extension services to farmers by routing it through certain NGOs is unacceptable. The reports that the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has come up with a �new initiative� to reach their technology to farmers needs closer introspection. The modus operandi for technology transfer is through a motley crowd of NGOs �working� with farmers which is questionable. Certain points need to be considered while looking into the issue of extension and technology transfer.
� The move is an acceptance of the fact that the dismantling of the extension services over nearly two decades of implementation of the Neo-Liberal economic policies has either led to total absence of the agricultural extension services or at best left skeletal remains of the erstwhile network.
� The move will only lead to the government relinquishing its responsibility of providing effective extension services even while giving a benign picture of concern for the farmers and agricultural production by claiming to do so through a network of NGOs.
� There has been no democratic consultation with any representatives of farmers� organisations or political parties which have a far greater reach and have their own considered opinion on the issue. The local self governing institutions and there role in the matter has been totally ignored by both the IARI as well as the DST.
� A mechanism of a handful of NGOs cannot substitute for an elaborate extension mechanism. Extension and technology transfer cannot be possible through a network of NGOs selected arbitrarily and having limited reach. It requires a revival and strengthening of the network of extension services that existed earlier and should involve interaction between trained scientists from agricultural research stations, extension officers and farmers.
� Dissemination of best technology and agronomic practices also has to be accompanied by affordable inputs at subsidised rates and incentives for farmers without which it will be a futile exercise.
� An unholy nexus between a section of the bureaucracy and certain NGOs has been exposed earlier wherein there is siphoning away of public money and an arrangement lacking in transparency and accountability has led to corrupt practices.
� Certain relevant issues have been identified both by the director of IARI and the DST like the need for region-specific technologies, combining local wisdom in soil and water conservation, right mix of agriculture, post-harvest technologies and so on. However, that alone does not validate the move for taking a skewed position on such an important matter like technology transfer and extension services.
The All India Kisan Sabha demands that the IARI and DST put on hold this ill-conceived move and the ministry of agriculture should take a decision only after wide consultation with political parties and farmers� organisations. Local bodies also should be involved in any such endeavour. The need of the hour is for a revival and strengthening of the extension services and generating farmers� confidence in sustainable production enhancing technologies in agriculture.