Empowering farming community through ict in uttarakhand


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Earlier Uttarakhand was thought as Cyber state but it is very far from being. The steps towards cyber state are week. People's awareness, participation and investment for infrastructure are poor. There is a great scope of ICT for agricultural development in the state.

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Empowering farming community through ict in uttarakhand

  1. 1. Empowering Farming Community through ICT in Uttarakhand R P Singh, Ph.D. Associate Director Extension, GBPUA&T, Pantnagar Abstract ICT enabled services will empower extension system in general and extension agent in particular for becoming an effective and efficient extension manager as well as farmers. Uttarakhand state has diversity in physical condition and difficult in communication and transportation. Agriculture is at subsistence level and most of the farming community is having small and marginal land holdings. People are fighting with their challenges through new technological interventions but the poor infrastructures, facilities and education hinders. ICT tools will generate new type of extension services within the state and will have a great impact on the agricultural economy of the state. Before the inception of the newly carved state ‘Uttarakhand’, the then Government of Uttar Pradesh had initiated some exercises to give shape of new state. There was a separate Hill Development Secretariat at Lucknow (capital of Uttar Pradesh) headed by Principal Secretary and several meetings and workshops were organized in 1996-2000. In a workshop entitled ‘Future of Uttaranchal (previous name)’ in 1996 at Deharadun, the then Principal Secretary Sri R S Tolia sketched ‘the states’ governance will depend on Information Technology and state will be called ‘Cyber State’ and the head offices of different development department would be at different towns/district headquarter’. Cyber state viewed as connectivity to every corner of the state and location of state level offices at different places of the state; it would support to carry the population load and opportunity to development of entire state. It was felt that it is a ‘progressive’ idea and suitable with the physical conditions of state. As on today, the state is progressing towards the notion but the essential requirement; skills and education of people, focus on infrastructure development, and investment on Information & Communication Technology (ICT) development are hindering its rapid growth. Many efforts have been made to cope up the challenges like establishment of NIC Uttarakhand, connectivity with the entire district headquarters/towns, facility of video conferencing at district headquarters, development of portals, telephonic networks, etc. But every technology has its own requirement and Information Technology (IT) is not different. It requires uninterrupted power, skilled and educated manpower, capital for installation and making network and access for the people. IT has potential to empower people if it is used by maximum people. Use of technology create market and provide opportunity to the people. In the state, use of ICT has increased tremendously in the cities and mulfusile towns and youth are proactive towards the technology but reach and access both are meager in rural and far flanged areas away from the roads. The agrarian sector of the state is using mobile at a less number but showing torch to the planners for focusing.
  2. 2. Efforts made (as available on www.uk.gov.in) The Government of Uttarakhand intends to harness the full power of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for improving the quality of life of its citizens, bring in accelerated social and economic development, ensure transparency in the Government decisions, accelerate the IT adoption amongst various user segments – all leading to an ideal e- society model through efficient, Service oriented, cost-effective, information networked, eco- conscious, and with year-on-year growth approach. e-Governance is the buzzword of ICT that seeks to improve public service delivery. It enables the citizen to avail various services at their doorsteps, which is really the need of time. There are only limited examples of successful e-Governance projects. However, the efforts are on and various state governments in India have initiated a variety of e-Governance projects. The Government of Uttarakhand (GoU) has also planned several projects, many of which are also on the top priority agenda of the Government of India. The department is striving to provide: A platform to share/ provide information, Backend computerization to respond/process the queries/ requests, and A delivery mechanism. Through the development of a State Portal, Application Software for various Departments and Community Service Centres, the GoU is simultaneously working on all these fronts. It has developed the State Portal (Uttara.in), is building application software for various departments, and implementing projects under National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) on State Wide Area Network (SWAN), Common Service Center (CSC), Capacity Building, Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) and State Data Center (SDC) in the state. State Portal & State Service Delivery Gateway State Portal (SP) is envisaged to act as the primary interface to all the e-Governance initiative and one stop point for rendering various citizen centric services across multiple departments of state government while the State Service Delivery Gateway (SSDG) is an attempt to reduce point to point connections between departments and provide a standardized interface, messaging and routing switch which will allow seamless exchange of data between the State Portal and State Government Departments. State Data Centre State Data Centre (SDC) has been identified as one of the important element of the core infrastructure for supporting e-Governance initiatives of National eGovernance Plan (NeGP). Under NeGP, it is proposed to create State Data Centres for the States to consolidate services,
  3. 3. applications and infrastructure to provide efficient electronic delivery of G2G, G2C and G2B services. These services can be rendered by the States through common delivery platform seamlessly supported by core Connectivity Infrastructure such as State Wide Area Network (SWAN) and Common Service Centre (CSC) connectivity extended up to village level. State Data Centre would provide many functionalities and some of the key functionalities are Central Repository of the State, Secure Data Storage, Online Delivery of Services, Citizen Information/Services Portal, State Intranet Portal, Disaster Recovery, Remote Management and Service Integration etc. SDCs would also provide better operation &smp; management control and minimize overall cost of Data Management, IT Resource Management, Deployment and other costs. State Wide Area Network (SWAN) 133 out of 135 PoPs under vertical connectivity are operational. The Treasuries of the State have been connected over SWAN. e class Use of multimedia in enhancing the learning with school students is a universal knowledge. Course curriculum taught with the help of multimedia immensely improves the productivity of students. Course taught with multimedia support have shown much higher percentage of pass results. Retention-rate of students in classes taught with multimedia has been much higher and dropout rates have come down. Keeping the above facts in mind, GoUA has embarked upon the task of creating multimedia course content for Mathematics & Science subjects for classes from 9th to 12th. The core concept is to make such a multimedia content available to all schools within the state for day- to-day learning. The project targets all Inter Colleges of Uttarakhand. A substantial number of schools, which is in interiors, are registered. There are a number of CBSE and CISCE schools in public and private sectors. The Government of Uttarakhand has received a Grant from the International Development Agency, being administered by the World Bank, towards the cost of “e-Class” Development of IT enabled course curriculum in Science and Mathematics for class 9th to 12th Project. Human Resource Management System In 2004, Government of Uttarakhand has identified the board strategic direction and included measurable goals and key performance indicators for the Human Resources Department. This department contributes to the government’s mandate by ensuring HR issues are consistently addressed on a timely basis. The HR responsibilities include maintaining comprehensive, up-to- date employment and personal records for employees of the government, whether permanent or contractual, providing orientation for all new employees or contractual employees, maintaining employee training information, etc.
  4. 4. Social welfare The Government of Uttarakhand (GoU) has undertaken the development of a State Portal under the "Pro-poor IT initiative" program. Taking this further, the government, is launching the computerization of key departments to enable the provisioning of online services. GoU is now launching a program to computerize Social Welfare Department for better delivery of services to the people to enhance the effectiveness, transparency and accountability in the process of the government / departments. Agriculture The Government of Uttrakhand has undertaken the development of a unified Agriculture Portal for the benefits of the farmers comprising of entire life cycle of the crops, animal husbandry, fisheries, poultry including department applications and call centre to facilitate information to farmers. Taking further, the government has already launched the computerization of key departments to enable the provisioning of online services. The ultimate goal of the Portal is to integrate agricultural community together for Better production planning for farmers and other agricultural producers (cultured fish, poultry, etc,), Providing solutions to Farmers for the Various problems they are facing with crops etc. (this can be online Video chat with the Pant Nagar University Professors/ can also be Email based call centre, or voice based call center) Advisory services through using IT Initiatives, Establishing a platform for commerce on the Internet to promote the regional economy and commerce. Increasing regional sales by enabling local producers to reach out to other states in India (Domestic Market) Greater investment throughout the economic area. Creation of an Information platform for agriculture. Provision of New sales channels over the Internet. New: Related up-to-date news for the community (meteorology etc). Direct access of small farmers to the market. Good visibility under the shared virtual umbrella of the local region Quick source of regional Information. Added value through services such as an events calendar, news, chats, small ads, tourism and cinema. Simple operation, purchasing and Information at the click of a mouse. Good overview of the regional offering and greater familiarity with regional customs and suppliers Teacher Student Portal
  5. 5. Government has been consciously focucing on evolving a strategy for improvements in primary and secondary education system. One of the specific initiatives launched by GoU is the Aarohi programe. This program seeks to provide computer education for all levels of the schools and presently covers 1600+ schools. As a result of aarohi (computer aided education programme), there has been a sharp increase in government school results. The pass percentage has risen from 45% to 64% for the intermediate and from 35% to 50% at the high school level. The success of the Aarohi program provides the needed impetus to take up other initiatives to take this programe to the next levels. The GoU now proposes to setup Teacher Student Portal to harness the benefits of various islands of excellence created by the computereization project. to share the expertise, knowledge, experiences and collaborate and facilitate interaction between the four stakeholders viz Teacher, Students, Parents and Education Department. This project of TS portals is conceived. This portal is also supposed to act as one of the delivery channel for the educational content being developed under a different project. it is envisaged that this portal would be an important step in the right direction for evolving an efficient and effective education system. Urban Development Department Government of Uttarakhand has launched a project to computerize Urban development Department. The overall aim is to use IT tools for better delivery if services to people and enhance the effectiveness, transparency and accountability in the processes of the Government/Departments. Various divisions need to be integrated so as to serve the citizens from single location only through a common user interface and also to exercise better control over the processes. The Department of Urban Development, Government of Uttarakhand offers a multitude of services to the citizens. Since all the services offered by the Department are vital for Urban dwelling and fundamental in nature, the department has decentralized itself into various divisions for efficiency, effectiveness and better management namely Jal Sansthan for Water & Sewerage Services), Nagar Nigam (for sanitation, Streetlights, Roads & Footpaths, House tax), Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority- MDDA (for granting permission to citizens for construction of houses, institutions and development of civic infrastructure like parks, roads, community centers etc), Uttarakhand Power Corporation Limited (for electricity) and State Urban Development Authority a& District Urban Development Authority (for the betterment of the living standards of urban slum dwellers). Empowerment of people Empowerment refers broadly to the expansion of choice and action to shape one’s life. It implies control over resources and decisions. From poor people, that freedom is severely implies curtailed by their normlessness and powerlessness in relation to the state and markets. There are important gender inequalities, including with in the household. Narayana (2005)
  6. 6. defined empowerment as ‘Empowerment is the participation in, negotiate with, influence, control and hold accountable institutions that affects their lives.’ Empowerment is a key aspect of participation, but it is not the whole of participation (Uphoff, 1980). It refers to the individual’s process of gaining influence over events and outcomes of importance over factors in their environment. There are four types of empowerment; individual, community, social-structural and psychological empowerments. On the basis of quantitative indicators of empowerment, there are four main indicators; legal, political, economic and social empowerment. It can be visualized at two levels i.e. individual and group/ community level and it occurs through three stages. First stage is dependence; hierarchical dependence on others for every thing, secondly independence; development of an ability to take individual or collective decisions and thirdly conscious individual; as this stage there is increased consciousness among individuals. Practice in agri-extension and farmers Efforts are made for establishment of cyber state by the government of Uttarakhand but it is at minimal level as envisaged. People’s participation is less. The agriculture sector and rural farmers are far behind in use of ICTs in comparison to other development departments. However, there is a lot of scope for using ICT in the area of agricultural extension. Many states of the country like; Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, M.P. are using ICTs for reaching out to the farmers within no time. In Uttarakhand, the agricultural scientists as well as Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) scientists are proactive towards ICTs. They are using for their updating and for the meetings and workshops. Farmers are not using it due to poor empowerment except few, who are educated and avail gadgets. A sizable number of farmers are using only mobiles for their communication with scientists and extension workers. KVK scientists are supposed to visit the farmer’s field and organize meetings and training with the farmers therefore, they are using mobiles to maintain the contacts with the farmers. State extension workers are maintaining the mobile for maintaining their official network and passing information to their head offices. Mobile technology is mostly in use because it is cheaper and easily accessible. Still there are many areas where even mobile network is not available. Connectivity is a dream for rural farmers and they are not aware, educated, skilled and having capacity to purchase. Very few can afford but unavailability of infrastructure, poor supply of electricity hinders them. In this situation participation of the farmers for agriculture development is point of time for the state government to revisit on the issue. What is possible with ICTs
  7. 7. The online services can be provided through the IT for information, education and training, monitoring and consultation, diagnosis and finally transaction and processing. E-commerce can be effectively used for linking the local commercial and production activities directly to retailer and the trade purchases and to suppliers. IT can be helpful in providing the interaction among the researchers, extension workers having better knowledge. It helps in providing up to date information services to the farmers, such as on package of practices, market information, weather forecasting,, the input supply, credit availability, etc. can be provided at the earliest possible time. IT can help in creation of databases of local resources of villages and the villagers, site specific information systems, expert systems. It also helps in providing information services on disease / pest early warning systems, crop insurances, post harvest technology, etc. It can be used for improving the marketing of milk and milk products, management information for the farmers. Conclusion The IT enabled services will empower extension system in general and extension agents in particular for becoming an effective and efficient extension manager as well as farmers. These services are delegation of one or more business processes to an external service provider. Service provider owns, manages and administers the selected processes based on defined and measurable performance metrics. The core facilities for IT enabled service sector are provided by the ICT tools and this will generate new types of extension services within our state and will have a great impact on the agricultural economy of the state and individual farmers. There is a need for human resource development for harnessing the benefit of ICTs for agricultural development. References: Narayan, Deepa (Ed.) (2005). Empowerment and Poverty Reduction- A source book. The world Bank, Rawat publications, New Delhi. Uphoff, N. (1980). Comments on inquiry into participation: A research proposal (UNRSID). www.uk.gov.in (2013). Portal of Uttarakhand government.