West Bengal government plans to extend ‘Matir Katha’, an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) based service providing expert advice to farmers, to the entire state by February, a government official said.
The decision was taken after the successful implementation of the project on a pilot basis in six districts of Nadia, Burdwan, North 24 Parganas, Hooghly, Bankura and Jalpaiguri.
A result of collaboration between departments of agriculture, agricultural marketing, animal husbandry, fisheries and horticulture and the state information technology agency WEBEL, will allow the system farmers to avail services of technical experts through Krishi Prajukti Sahayak (KPS) or agri-tech assistants.
“Under the scheme, KPS is provided with tablets containing ready answers of frequently asked questions concerning agriculture. There is also a panel of experts who analyse and provide solutions to the problems of the farmers that are relayed to them by the KPS,” said Pradip Majumdar, advisor to the chief minister on agriculture and allied services.
“After the successful implementation of the pilot project we will be extending the service to the entire state by February,” added Majumdar.
He was speaking at a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) organised event, which focused on the development of “rural business hubs”.
According to Majumdar, ‘Matir Katha’ provides solutions on a host of issues concerning crop types, prices and availability of seeds, insurance, crop diseases and weather forecast.
Posted in gram panchayat levels, KPS are provided with android tablets and GPRS connection to facilitate real time audio and video messaging, thereby relaying the farmers’ problems to the agri-experts instantly.
Speaking on the occasion, R.S. Shukla, principal secretary of the West Bengal department of food processing, called for devising schemes keeping in mind the farmers.
“Most of governmental projects and schemes are devised by experts without giving much thought about farmers. The need is to keep farmers at the centre of projects so that he may not only provide inputs but also is able to adapt himself to a given situation,” said Shukla.