Open Distance Learning (ODL) for Sustainable Agriculture among the Small and Marginal Farmers
Dr. P Thamizoli
Ms. R. Rengalakshmi
Agricultural extension system based on technology transfer from lab to land does not adequately address the needs of diversified farming community with women farmers and farm labourers. In Tamil Nadu, India, agricultural extension agent to farmer ratio is low (1:1000) compared to developed nations (1:400). With globalization, coupled with inadequate extension system, demands for context specific extension services are increasing.
This demand requires alternative methods for information and knowledge dissemination and ensuring participation of learning communities in the design and delivery of the programmes.
MSSRF and COL, in collaboration with Reddiarchatram Seed Growers Association, a grassroots farmers association, facilitated the project ‘Capacity Building, Grassroots Institution Building and Sustainable Development’ with the support of modern ICT based Village Knowledge Centres.
Small and marginal farmers and agricultural labourers comprised the target community. Participatory approach was central in the need identification, programme design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation. Database development on location-specific knowledge, curriculum and material development emerged as the focus.
A new approach, based on ODL and ICT, facilitation of linking, networking and formation of farmers association, is presented for overcoming the challenges in extension and to facilitate horizontal transfer of information and knowledge as the way forward in a sustainable manner.
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