The Agriculture Ministry has set up an inquiry into the functioning of Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), the so-called “farm science centres” that were originally intended to educate tillers on farming best practices.
An exhaustive investigation by The Indian Express, published on May 16, 2013 (‘Seeds of Political Patronage’), analysed information obtained through the Right to Information (RTI) Act to demonstrate how, over the years, a small but significant number of KVKs had become an instrument of handing out political favours, having been allotted to politicians or their aides and relatives.
The six-member inquiry committee, which will be headed by former agriculture secretary JNL Shrivastav, has been asked to submit its report by January 15.
Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh told The Indian Express on Tuesday that there were several problems in the KVKs.
“KVKs need to be strengthened, so they can carry the advantages of scientific innovations to the fields and farmers. We will wait for the report of the committee, which will visit some KVKs and talk to all stakeholders.”
The Ministry had met KVKs in groups in August-September last year to make an assessment of their functioning.
The Indian Express report had shown that proper procedure was often overlooked in the allotment of KVKs, and that former agriculture minister Sharad Pawar had personally intervened to recommend some NGOs which received funds up to Rs 1.5 crore per year.
There are 639 KVKs in the country, spread over 600 districts.
Around 100 KVKs are run by NGOs, including NGOs controlled by politicians.