Development Education in Agriculture


Education transfers the knowledge and experience of past generations to the young in a concentrated, systematic and abridged form, thereby eliminating the necessity for each generation to relive all the experiences of their ancestors and permitting them instead to acquire as knowledge and skill in a brief period what was earlier learned only through long years of life experience.

The contribution of education to development is a well-documented fact. For example, recent World Bank studies indicate that even 4 years of general primary education result in a 13% increase in the annual output of farmers. Our concern today is how to amplify the impact of education on development and accelerate the conversion of academic knowledge into field practise. To accomplish these aims education in all fields has to be adapted and remodeled to serve as a more conscious, efficient, and effective instrument for development. I refer to this shift in emphasis as Development Education.

Development Education is that education which helps the student realise the enormous developmental potentials available to him and to the country and motivates him to endeavour to benefit by tapping some of these potentials. Agricultural Science belongs to the realm of pure knowledge extended to the field of agriculture. Modern farming technique belong to the other end of this spectrum focusing on training in practical skills.

The acquisition of scientific knowledge and training is one part of Development Education which has been the central focus of the agriculture universities, colleges, and polytechnics since their inception and has resulted in the enormous achievements after independence. The training of skills can be even further extended by a horizontal and vertical expansion of the existing institutional hierarchy. By horizontal expansion I mean a multiplication of existing institutions until the presence of an agricultural university in each state is supported by agricultural colleges in every district and polytechnics in each taluq. By vertical expansion I mean the creation of one more tier in the educational hierarchy, the establishment of Farm Schools in every block to demonstrate scientific practises and train local farmers for a period of 6 to 12 months. But imparting of scientific knowledge and training of practical skill is not sufficient to ensure that this knowledge and skill will be put to productive use by the Society. An American director of agricultural Extension in the State of California recently said that 90% of' the proven research findings in USA have not been adopted by American farmers, and that if they were, the nation's farm output could be doubled.

The dissemination of new information and demonstration of new skills for the benefit of the community-at-large is the function of agricultural extension activities. Extension is an organised effort to abridge the time required for transfer of new practises from the laboratory to the field. It enhances the farmer's own life experience with the live demonstration of new things he has never known or seen before. Though its contribution should not be minimised, extension is still a relatively slow and unconscious process in which the quantity and quality of learning is very difficult to control. It addresses an important problem but does not satisfactorily solve it.

Development Education is intended to fill in the lap between pure academic knowledge and practical extension by awakening the student's mind to the opportunities for prosperity, innovation, expansion, and creative research in this field. Extension is practical education from below, i.e., from the physical to the mental. Development Education is academic education from above, i.e., from the mind to the physical field. In a few years it imparts to the student as knowledge what extension imparts to the adult by a slower process of example.

Development Education covers the entire spectrum from theoretical knowledge to practical programmes. But whereas pure agricultural education emphasises scientific knowledge and technique, Development Education focuses on the potential and strategies for application of science in life.

At the highest level of university studies, Development Education should concern itself with national policies strategies, and programmes by which science may be effectively utilized for the betterment of the country. The phrase "Green Revolution" refers to one of the greatest and most successful experiments in planned development ever conceived or executed. Yet few today understand the full implications of that term. Green Revolution does not just mean the introduction of new high-yielding hybrid food grains, though this was the essential scientific basis. The rapid acceptance and adoption of this technology was made possible because the social energies of the population had been awakened and released by the freedom movement and the social reforms introduced after Independence. These overflowing energies were refined and uplifted by giving them new productive skills through agricultural education, extension, and demonstration. The establishment of the 22 agricultural universities under ICAR and the appointment of scientists to replace bureaucrats in the research institutes were key elements in developing these skills and transferring them to the population. This energy augmented by new skills was channeled in a positive direction with the support of new policies, organisation, systems, and institutions. The fixation of floor prices motivated the farmer to produce surplus foodstuffs for profit, rather than merely sufficient grains for his own subsistence. The establishment of Food Corporation, Fertilizer Corporation, Seeds Corporation, Warehouse Corporation, etc., provided the institutional infrastructure essential for utilizing the new technology and marketing the surplus. It is crucial to the further development of the country that India' s future planners and administrators are educated in all aspects and dimensions of this successful national strategy.

Similar attention must be given to other policy issues, models, and programmes at intermediate levels such as the strategy underlying the success of the Anand Dairy Corporation and its subsequent adoption as the basic pattern for dairy development throughout the country. The Principle demonstrated here is the efficiency of production in the cottage scale when combined with cooperative marketing on a large scale augmented by technology for preservation and manufacture.

At the other end of the spectrum Development Education is needed to educate students, graduates, researchers, and the public as to the enormous practical opportunities agriculture offers them as an occupation for their own personal benefit. Today the sons of prosperous farmers think only of salaried jobs. Agricultural graduates usually seek urban employment. A study by G.P.Pant University of Agriculture and Technology revealed that only 4% of agricultural graduates seek self-employment as compared to 18% for engineering graduates.

Development Education can change this pattern by creating awareness of the economic potential of new techniques, scientific information, and field practises such as the profitability of converting cashew jungle into an orchard crop capable of giving yields 15 times higher or of irrigating coconut gardens which can yield Rs.7,000 to 8,000 per acre.

During the early seventies one university did pioneering research in the field of the jasmine essential oil industry by developing a tiny scale oil extraction unit which can generate profits of Rs.40,000 or 50,000 per acre even for a small farmer. Yet even today the enormous potential of this industry has not been exploited. Development Education can help ensure that opportunities like this are availed of by the agricultural community.

If the existing educational system is effectively adapted to meet this need, there will be certain signs by which its success can be measured, if Development Education is successful:

* There will be an exodus of agricultural graduates from salaried jobs back to the land and they will be unavailable for salaried employment. * Entrepreneurs will insist on establishing only agro-based industries. * Orchards will become status symbol in society. * Flower growing will become a major foreign exchange earner for the country. * Agricultural graduates will excel in value engineers and doctors as bridegrooms

Development Education is the discovery of the greater agricultural potential of the country and its presentation to the younger generation as scientifically feasible, technically proven, real avenues for entrepreneurship; so that the young may see, understand and have confidence in their own future development and that of the nation