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Krishi Mahotsav high on awareness,low on adoption,finds study

Krishi Mahotsav,a first-of-its-kind initiative of the state government which is credited for the high rate of agricultural growth in Gujarat,seems to have done little in influencing farmers to adopt new practices on their farms,if findings of a study are to be believed.

Written by Avinash Nair | Ahmedabad |
November 3, 2012 7:42:01 am

Krishi Mahotsav,a first-of-its-kind initiative of the state government which is credited for the high rate of agricultural growth in Gujarat,seems to have done little in influencing farmers to adopt new practices on their farms,if findings of a study are to be believed.

“While awareness impact is high,adoption impact is low,” says the study conducted by researchers from IWMI-Tata Programme at Anand,Gujarat Institute of Development Research (Ahmedabad) and Sardar Patel University (Vallabh Vidyanagar).

The study goes on to quantify the rate of adoption of new ideas and practices from Krishi Mahotsav at two to 11 per cent.

The state government has been organising the month-long event every year since 2005 in an effort to expose farmers to modern technologies,new crops and market opportunities.

While awareness about issues like government subsidies,new crops and seed varieties,improved farming and irrigation practices,pest management and crop marketing are very high among farmers,the actual implementation of these is poor among those covered under Krishi Mahotsav.

“We are not very disappointed with the results of the study. The awareness impact is the key and it takes time for implementation,” said Tushaar Shah,one of the researchers and the principal scientist of Colombo-based IWMI (International Water Management Institute),which is supporting the IWMI-Tata programme.

The research,that covers 1,445 farmers from one village in every district,seeks to examine the extent of farmer awareness and participation in Krishi Mahotsav,and the adoption of new practices by beneficiary farmers. It also sought to gauge the success of the disbursement of soil health cards,kisan credit cards,extension materials and input kits for the poor.

The study finds that almost 70 per cent of the sample farmers were aware of the Mahotsav and 65 per cent thought it to be a “good” programme.

“Our sample survey showed that the penetration of soil health card and kisan credit card is limited. Just around 10 per cent of the 1,445 farmers we sampled had these cards. Most farmers who had these cards had not used it even once. The lukewarm response of farmers to soil health cards was evident in our qualitative discussions with farmers,” states the study which also finds that “large (owning over 10 acres) and medium farmers (5-10 acres) have benefited more from the Mahotsav.

When asked why the government programme does little in benefitting tribals,SC/ST,landless and women farmers,Shah said,“It is the large and medium farmers,and those owing wells,who have the ability to translate awareness (about agricultural practices) into decisions.”

Government sources,however,disagree with some of the findings of the study. “The Mahotsav has helped acquaint farmers with scientific methods of farming. This year alone farmers were given financial assistance to purchase 11,000 tractors and 34,000 rotavators. Moreover,3.5 lakh soil specimens were tested,2.75 lakh soil health cards were handed over and around 4.5 lakh animals were treated for various diseases,” said a source.

B K Kikani,former vice-chancellor of Junagadh Agricultural University,said,“I feel Krishi Mahotsav has helped in cutting the cost of cultivation by 50 per cent and pushed crop production upwards by 2-3 fold in the Saurashtra region. There is a lot of awareness among farmers regarding scientific agricultural practices. Because of this increased awareness,we are also seeing a rise in number of students who want to join agriculture universities.”

Scientists and officials covered by the survey felt the Mahotsav bridged the gulf between farmers and scientists,benefiting both in various ways.

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