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Module 3 - India: A Decentralized, Market-Driven Approach to Agricultural Extension


The Project's institutional innovations included:
  • A district-level Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA), which coordinated and funded research and extension programs at the district and block levels.

  • Block-level Technology Teams (BTTs), which included extension staff from each line department to create a single-window delivery system for new technologies.

  • A Farmer Advisory Committee (FAC) within each block, composed of representatives from all stakeholder groups, to set extension priorities and review and approve annual block action plans (BAPs).

  • Village-level Farmer Interest Groups (FIGs), organized to focus on the production and marketing of different high-value products for local, regional, national, and export markets.

To provide operational and financial flexibility, ATMAs are registered as independent societies under the Societies Registration Act. Their management structure provides for improved interagency coordination and accountability to all stakeholders, especially farmers. An ATMA’s Governing Board includes the district collector as chair and the ATMA director as secretary, and membership includes farmer representatives from the block-level FACs, NGO and private sector representatives (input suppliers and rural banks) within the district, and heads of district line department and district research stations, especially the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK). At the block level, FACs are composed largely of FIG leaders but include representatives of other stakeholder groups, including women and disadvantaged groups. Village-level FIGs work closely with the block-level FACs and BTTs in identifying needs.

 

ATMAs begin by working with the line departments and research centers within the district to carry out a participatory rural appraisal as part of developing a strategic research and extension plan for the district. An important part of the participatory appraisal is to identify success stories of entrepreneurial farmers who have supplied specific markets with higher-value products. These success stories are assessed in terms of their potential to involve significant numbers of small-scale farmers in these new enterprises. The resulting Strategic Research and extension Plan (SREP) is carefully reviewed, and if approved by the ATMA Governing Board, provides the framework for reviewing block action plans (BAPs) that are submitted annually by each BTT for funding by the ATMA.

 

The ATMA approach makes extensive use of farmer-to-farmer extension services, including exposure visits to see how FIGs in other districts/states supply different markets with high-value products and the use of experienced “farmer professors” who help with farmer training. ATMAs also form public-private partnerships with input suppliers, agroprocessors, or other buyers to organize on-farm demonstrations and farmer training and/or provide technical supervision in maintaining product quality.

 

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