ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Reinventing Agricultural Extension System in India

The Road Ahead

Agricultural extension is critical to improve farm productivity and to translate the same into increased income. However, the agricultural extension system in India is facing a multitude of challenges. The support, in terms of policies and promotion, received by the agricultural sector even before the green revolution is gradually weakening. Private extension has been unable to match the requirements of a diverse and smallholder-dominated Indian agricultural sector. Restructuring of the Indian agricultural extension system is vital in developing the sector into a major source of growth in the Indian economy. 

The authors thankfully acknowledge the comments received during the presentation of the draft of this paper in the seminar on “Indian Agriculture: Policy Shifts and Emerging Challenges” organised by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Chair Professor unit at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai during 20–21 June 2019, which helped to improve the manuscript. The authors particularly thank R Ramakumar of TISS for his comments and useful suggestions. They also thank the anonymous referee whose comments and suggestions have helped improve the paper.

Agricultural research and extension play an important role in attaining food security and lifting the rural poor out of poverty. Studies have revealed the effectiveness of expenditure and investment on agricultural research and development (R&D), including extension services, in reducing poverty as compared to several other avenues of investment (Businessline 2017; Bathla et al 2019).

A strong agricultural extension system is vital in transferring the knowledge and technology generated by the research system to the diverse categories of stakeholders that may lead to its adoption, and further, to translate production gains into increased value generation. To facilitate this, many institutions were created, mainly in the public sector. As a result, new technologies developed by the research systems were disseminated widely. This has resulted in the growth of total factor productivity (TFP) in agricultural sector at the rate of 1.5%–2.0% per year over a period of time (Pal 2017). Several studies have indicated favourable economic returns for increased extension expenditure (Evenson 2001; Benin et al 2011; Birthal et al 2015). Compared with the heyday of agricultural extension in India coinciding with the green revolution, the technologies and institutions operating in Indian agriculture have undergone a sea change. This warrants a reoriented approach in agricultural extension development in India. This paper is an attempt in that direction.

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Updated On : 29th Aug, 2022
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