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Technologies for Rural Development
Dr. Banarsi Lal and Dr. Pawan Sharma9/5/2018 10:03:27 PM
Agriculture is the backbone of the rural economy. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has rendered great service in the scientific farming and also bridging the gap between lab and land. With the improved agricultural implements and modern machines, farmers are able to increase their agricultural productivity. Assistance for purchasing the modern agricultural machineries is also provided to the farmers. The use of agricultural machines is not uniform as the improvements have mostly seen in the states of the Northern India and in a few other states where irrigation facilities have been developed. We have a technology mission on oilseeds that has achieved a major breakthrough in its production. We have developed more than 600 high yielding, early-to-very early, late maturing, dwarf, disease and pest-resistant varieties of paddy and wheat. In our country wheat contributes around 36 per cent to the total food grain basket. More than 260 high-yielding, disease and pest-resistant wheat varieties having good quality grains suitable in different climatic conditions have been developed. We are at number two in fruit and vegetable production the world after China. We are at number one position in production of mango and banana in the world. Research has led to the development of regular-bearing, dwarf mango hybrids, resulting in increased production and export of mango. We are at number one in milk production in the world. Now drudgery has been reduced in agricultural sector due to availability of quality farm implements for interculture, spraying, harvesting, thrashing etc.
We are so much obsessed with the political somersaults such as rise and fall of governments, insurgencies, various film stories, sports such as cricket; modern fashions etc. that we tend to bypass the changes in rural India. Farmers are really in distress not on account of the availability of inputs in agriculture but because of the neglect they have suffered at the hands of policy makers. We can't deny that technology triggered the Green Revolution that brought spectacular results in the agricultural field. Science has made tremendous impact on agriculture. In present era we talk of integrated pest and disease management, integrated land and water management, eco-farming, low-cost housing and sanitation, training etc. in the use of modern agricultural appliances for greater productivity.
We can't ignore the myriad achievements of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) set up in 1942. Almost one-fourth of the technical grade pesticide production is based on CSIR technology. CSIR has produced specific pesticides and also biological methods of pest control for cotton and sweet potato and also neem based insect antifeedants. It has also promoted technologies suited to local resources endowments for low cost housing, semi-mechanised brick making, construction of rural roads, grain and water storage bins, cultivation of medicines and aromatic plants, extraction of oils etc. The Department of Atomic Energy has also contributed a lot in the area of agriculture and food preservation. Its nuclear energy programme covers development of high yielding crop seeds, fertilizers and pesticides-related studies and radiation processing of food items. The research efforts at Trombay in the field of crop improvement has led to the development of more than 22 high-yielding varieties of pulses, rice, oilseeds etc. One of important achievements in radiation-induced mutation is the development of a green manure crop-sesbania rostrata. This method of green manuring is very cost effective. This can help in boosting the organic farming.
Department of Space has produced rich dividends for the Indian farmers. Remote sensing applications now cover diverse fields of crop acreage, yield estimation, drought warning and assessment, etc. Centre and State Governments get advanced acreage and production estimates for crops such as wheat, paddy, sorghum etc. Our country different extension agencies are also trying their level best to bridge the gap between rural and urban India. It is hoped that India's all the 6 lakhs villages will be having e-connectivity in the coming years. With the support of Tata Trust, a Jamsetji Tata National Virtual Academy for Rural Prosperity has been established at the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) for training and selecting one million rural men and women as fellows of the society. They will be the torch-bearers for the rural people. The ISRO-MSSRF Village Resource Centre programme has already been launched in our country .These kinds of centres will help the villagers to meet their basic needs in education, health, farming, nutrition etc. This satellite based project seeks to achieve digital connectivity to remote villages for providing services such as telemedicine's, tele-education and remote sensing applications through a single window. While inaugurating the Village Resource Centre (VRC) project via INSAT link from New Delhi, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said that unless the benefits of science and technology were taken to the rural areas, the country would not be able to eradicate poverty and illiteracy problems. The concept of VRC was given by ISRO and implemented through a paternership with the MSSRF. ISRO's capabilities in satellite communication and satellite-based earth observation to disseminate a variety of services emanating from the space systems have been integrated with other information technology tools to address the changing and critical needs of the rural communities.
The Village Resource Centre (VRC) works on an interactive Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) network. According to an imminent agricultural scientist Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, the rural economy can flourish if Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are used to create new livelihood opportunities. These technologies could be in the areas of agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, sericulture, food processing, handicrafts etc. Important services such as education and health care can be delivered through ICTs in the rural areas. Computers can be provided in the rural schools and doctors from government hospitals can offer online services to the rural people. The drinking water is becoming the scarcest commodity and countryside, alternatives like desalination though costly method now is being resorted with the purpose of providing drinking water for the rural and urban areas. Department of Atomic Energy is showing the way in this regard. Chennai which is said to be the most water starved city in India is now having Rs.1000-crore desalination plant. As far as fresh drinking water is concerned, the plight of people in the countryside is worsening. Around 296 villages in Ramanathapuram District in Tamil Nadu are getting their quota of drinking water Naripaiyar Desalination Plant.
Many studies on renewable energy sources have been conducted and a large number of solar gadgets such as solar grain dryer, solar water heater, solar fruit and vegetables dehydrator, improved cooking stove, multi-rack solar dryer etc., have been developed. Wooden-based gasifiers have been developed for the production of producer gas. India is among the prominent countries that have developed renewable energy sources, especially for the rural areas. The major sources that have been tapped in this regard have been solar energy, biomass and wind power. Although all these are technological breakthrough, rural India is still looking backward. This indicates that full benefits of the technology have yet to reach to the rural people. Education, health, communication need to catch up with the advancements in the science and technology and their implication in rural areas.
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