Bridging the digital gap that rural India witnesses, and alleviating the lack of awareness in farming, the Uttar Pradesh government killed two birds with one stone by launching another campaign under its The Million Farmers’ School (TMFS) programme.
Bridging the digital gap that rural India witnesses, and alleviating the lack of awareness in farming, the Uttar Pradesh government killed two birds with one stone by launching another campaign under its The Million Farmers’ School (TMFS) programme. The programme brought thousands of farmers in touch with agriculture scientists by using digital media as a platform, The Indian Express reported. Called ‘Vaigyanikon ki Baat, Kisaano ke Saath’ (scientists-talking-to-farmers), the programme was carried out early in June and was conducted by scientists from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre), state agricultural universities and the department itself.
In the four-hour programme that followed, the scientists took questions through video conferencing while the farmers sat in the respective (National Informatics Centre) NIC centres in each of UP’s 75 districts. The scientists also gave structured presentations on the prescribed cultivation practices and pest/disease control measures for different crops. The briefing was for the current Kharif season and the scientists are all reputed breeders and agronomy experts not just in paddy, maize and Kharif pulses and oilseeds, but also sugarcane, fruits and vegetables, aromatic and medicinal plants, and livestock,” the newspaper reported.
However, that is not all. As the programme was live-streamed, even farmers who were not present at the NIC district centres watched it live on their mobile phones. “There is no verified number as to how many farmers watched, but given the wide publicity given before the event and the ubiquity of smartphones, it may have run to many lakhs,” The Indian Express reported.
The Million Farmers’ School programme was started in 2017-18, when the state government sought to leverage its agriculture department’s over 7,000 field-level staff strength. Initially, the government thought of extending agriculture lessons to farmers by conducting kisaan pathshalas. The pathshalas conducted training sessions spread over four days of roughly 90 minutes each. About a million farmers were reached during that season. The current programme ‘Vaigyanikon ki Baat, Kisaano Ke Saath’ leverages the wide penetration of smartphones in rural areas and data costs falling to Rs 15 per GB or lower.