By Nisar Ali Shah and Dr Umar Frooq
Agriculture sector is one of the major sources of income and employment for the people of barani areas. Successful transfer of improved technology to target beneficiaries requires strong and viable linkages of development.
The federal government has started the Barani Development Project (BVDP) under the umbrella of Agency for Barani Areas Development (ABAD). The BVDP’s approach is of participatory type, which is more acceptable at the community level.
Increasing the efficiency of agriculture and rural sectors of barani areas is of prime concern to the BVDP. Rapid progress is crucial to improve the quality of life of the people who earn their living from agriculture.
To achieve self-sufficiency in food, feed and for sustainable agricultural development, technology is still very low in the barani areas. Generally, big farmers are the first beneficiaries of new technology, whereas, medium and small farm households are usually unable to benefit from the new technology. A majority of poor farmers avoid taking risks in adopting new technology until and unless they are sure about its benefits.
A number of methods and approaches have been adopted for achieving agricultural and rural development for boosting the income of small and medium farm households. The major cause of low impact of new technology has been the poor linkages with the line departments/agencies and research institutes.
Therefore, a need was felt that a strong linkage must be created between research and development agencies for the improvement of agricultural productivity and conservation of natural resources through rapid dissemination of promising technologies.
Different proven technologies, after continuous evaluation for the last four years, are now in the stage to be disseminated in barani areas. This needs a close collaboration and integration of the technology producers and dissemination agencies.
Transfer of technology initiative has been launched throughout the project area. This programme is specifically planned to explore the diffusion process and possible constraints and challenges in the transfer and adoption of technologies for the target population.
Farmers’ perception and behaviour in the adoption of improved crop seed, low cost soil and water conservation structures, gypsum for moisture conservation and genetic improvement of small ruminants through sire would help in further improvement of technology transfer mechanism.
Viable technologies including improved seed of different food and feed crops are recommended after testing at the integrated research sites in a participatory manner.
The informal seed production of fodder crops is being promoted with the help of Agriculture Extension Department through a participatory technology transfer and diffusion process Scientists at the Social Sciences Institute (SSI), the National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), Islamabad conducted surveys under which the fodder-growing farmers were interviewed during the Kharif 2003 at three different locations, viz Jand, Gujar Khan and Pind Dadan Khan of Potohar barani tract.
Agricultural inputs, sorghum millet, including seed of maize were provided to the farmers at these locations in time and were advised about the use of inputs. The basic thrust of this campaign involved the dissemination of improved seeds.
Increases in productivity can be attained with substantial improvements in seed selection and more effective management practices. The host farmers produced their own seed for maize, sorghum and millet.
The farmers were selected through community organizations in the village. The basic objectives of these associations were to improve the knowledge, skills, increase farm productivity and income of the farmers.
The farmers could sustain significant increases in real income by putting less emphasis upon local seed and devoting greater attention to improved seeds production. Many of these opportunities are within the reach of the farmers. The host farmers of the informal seed production also play an important role in the adoption and diffusion of new varieties at community level.
A numbers of farmers purchased seed from these farmers. About ten fellow farmers purchased seed for nest season from each of the host farmer. This will have a multiplying effect in rapid adoption of these promising varieties.
The sample farmers got higher grain and dry stalk yield along with good quality fodder from improved varieties of maize, millet and sorghum. The grain yield of maize, millet and sorghum was 33,40 and 21 per cent higher while of dry stalk was 29, 29 and 50 per cent higher than the local varieties respectively. The fertilizer response of these new varieties was also better than the local varieties. These improved varieties have high net benefit.
Required training and necessary technical backup was provided by the research component to the Extension staff and farming community. This finding would help the extension and other development agencies along with researchers to understand the compatibility of their promotional methods.
This, in turn, will also help in modifying the existing components or introduction of new components in technology transfer and adoption. The research and extension systems particularly, and farmers in general would be the potential beneficiaries of these research and development activities.
Seed production needs special efforts to maintain the quality and purity while farmers, generally give little attention for their home produced seed. For achieving self-sustainability, following measures are needed:
(a) Special training for farmers to improve technology for increasing productivity and reducing per unit cost of production.
(b) Local variety should be replaced with high yielding seed dissemination at micro level.
(c) Demonstration trials for informal seed production should be conducted with a participatory approach on regular basis.
(d) Community involvement at the time of sowing, maturity and harvesting through field days would also be helpful in technology dissemination process.
Courtesy: The DAWN