September 2007

Technology enabled farm women

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IMCD has been recently recognised as one of the ToT tools, to educate and impart knowledge on innovative agricultural technologies to farm women, who are now considered as prospective agricultural extension clienteles.

Introduction

Women are now playing a pivotal role in all fields, including agriculture, as managers, decision makers and skilled farm workers.  It is estimated that women are responsible for 70 percent of actual farm work and constitute up to 60 percent of the farming population.  They are considered to be 'agripreneurs' as they supervise, organise, and assure responsibilities for running both their farm and households. In spite of all these efforts, it is most unfortunate to note that involvement and participation of farm women in Transfer of Technology (ToT) has been neglected so far. Hence it is the need of the hour to empower farm women in technology dissemination programmes to achieve a holistic empowerment of society.

The main reason behind recommending the use of computer based multimedia system for farmers is to facilitate comprehensive information and better understanding between individual learners and the subject matter. IMCD's prime aim is to transfer advanced and complex technologies to the farmers in a simple presentation. User friendly IMCD is a device encompassing labelled instructions helping the user to learn the contents, structure and information using the mouse without depending on the help of a facilitator to learn about its contents. Even an illiterate farmer could have a chance to assess the module without the help from peers. Moreover, it is interactive through an inbuilt questionnaire and the interaction is asynchronous because both sender and receiver do not have to be in touch at exactly the same time in order to communicate. IMCD is increasingly attracting the attention of farmers including farm women, extension functionaries and educationists as a way of much-needed speedy ToT in agriculture. It is fast becoming the most successful tool for technology transfer and imparting education in agriculture. 

Paradigm shift in agricultural extension

The paradigm shift has become essential in ToT methodology and conventional extension services to meet the challenges of the 21st century and to bring food, nutritional and environmental security, and for serving all sections of the rural community including farmers, farm women and farm youth.  Some of the paradigm changes in the agricultural extension are as follows:

  • Group approach for agricultural technology dissemination
  • Involvement of community-based organisations for technology transfer
  • Formation of self help groups and extension through them
  • Rural location-specific knowledge centres for providing instant information to farmers
  • Need based problem-solving, skill based training for self-employment of rural youth
  • Harnessing the use of electronic media and digital
    revolution

Integrated multimedia approach

Multimedia tools are ideally suited to demonstrate complex and dynamic processes that cannot be explained easily with conventional media and methods. It has two other important functions, the ability to present this media in an integrated way, and in an interactive way. Hence, for every slide/page of the IMCD, background voice was given.

Varieties of pictures related to respective topics were inserted while preparing the IMCD. Edited short video clippings were inserted in the IMCD where skill oriented aspects are to be taught to farm women. Finally, all the interested text, pictures, photos; video clippings are hyper linked with the different action buttons for better usability with interactivity.

The speedy diffusion of novel agricultural technologies could only be achieved through active involvement and participation of farm women with the help of IMCD. IMCD goes a step further in providing information to the individuals/farm women round the clock in local language using audio and video clipping. In fact, it is a motivational cum inspirational tool playing a significant role in sweeping changes in socio-economic development in the era of globalisation. In the light of the above factors, research work on developing a farmer friendly IMCD as an effective tool of technology transfer for farm women is under progress in the Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Sociology, Agricultural College and Research Institute, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Madurai, India.

Orientations

A National Gender Resource Centre in Agriculture (NGRCA) has been set up in the Ministry of Agriculture as a focal point for the convergence of all issues related to women in agriculture. In this connection, a unique step has been initiated by the Department of Agricultural Extension, Agricultural College and Research Institute; Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, which is operating a scheme entitled 'Diffusion of Farm technologies to Farm Women through user-friendly Interactive Multimedia Compact Disc'. The scheme aims at empowering farm women as potential extension clients with the help of user friendly Interactive Multimedia Compact Discs.

The scheme has envisaged selecting two villages under different eco-systems followed with identifying the felt technological needs of the farmers through Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and Focused Group Discussions (FDGs). The identified and prioritised technological farm needs are being developed into user-friendly IMCDs. 

In this regard, around fifteen IMCDs have been developed in the scheme, some of which are-

  • System of Rice Intensification (SRI) techniques
  • Eriophid mite control in Coconut
  • Integrated Pest and Disease Management on Tomato, Brinjal, Chillies, Bhendi, Onion, Paddy and Cotton
  • Vermicompost production
  • Mushroom production
  • Integrated rat control measures
  • Drip based Sugarcane Cultivation Technologies
  • Hybrid Maize Production and
  • Hybrid Rice Production

The IMCD on Vermicompost Production has been recently developed, which elaborates various techniques of Vermicompost production, Vermiculture production, Inputs required, Cost of production, Marketing outsource mechanisms and Income benefits, in a comprehensive, interactive and user-friendly manner. This has been developed as it is felt that it is the most viable entrepreneurial activity for farm women. Moreover, it has been prepared in the local language (Tamil) with the main intention of overcoming the language barrier, so that even the illiterate farm women can easily access it.

It has also a significant advantage of  being able to exist in any regional and international language for wider usage across the globe. Using the IMCDs, latest and updated agricultural technologies are being transferred to the women user groups, increasing their knowledge and skill.  

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