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SCIENCE IN THE SERVICE OF SMALL FARMERS
INTRODUCTION: Science and Technology have immense potential for improving the quality of life in rural India by providing services such as weather are casting and medical care and generating employment opportunities.
DEVELOPMENT OF THOUGHT: Indian being a predominantly agrarian economy, science and technology can be of great potential use for the uplifting of the farming community. As agro-meteorological advisories for the farming. the community is very essential, a National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting and Development of Agro-Advisories, a multidisciplinary project has been efficiently meeting this objective. By the installation of INSAT II ground receiving system, satellite meteorology services are also being provided. For developing irrigation technology for the marginal farmers a programme has been launched which is a successfully designing device using the latest technology. Seeing the success of watershed development project, which is nearing completion, there is a move to commission land and water management programme on an all India basis. Science has also helped in developing techniques and products for improvements in medical services. In order to popularise S&T the t the grassroots level and to generate sustainable employment the skills of engineers are being used. S&T is also playing an important role in uplifting the women and weaker sections of the society. In order to upgrade the skills of women, they are being imparted training in various fields like poultry, water management, etc. To provide low-cost houses to the poor sections of the social cost reduction techniques are being utilised.
CONCLUSION: Various development programmes have been carried out successfully to benefit the small farmers and the tribal population in rural India. Satellite technology is also now being used now for the benefit of the farming community.
Weather forecasting. climate research, awareness, developing techniques and products for improvement in medical services, popularising science and technology even at the grassroots level generating employment opportunities with improved techniques of production, uplifting rural poor, women and weaker sections of the society with the help of science and technology are potential areas for research it the country.
Being a predominantly agrarian economy, India needs agro-meteorological advisories for the farming community. National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting and Development of Agro Advisories, a multi-disciplinary project has been designed to fulfil this objective. A high-resolution analysis forecast system has recently been installed. In addition graphics software has been developed to plot daily outputs of the model indicating significant weather systems. Based on medium-range forecasts, experimental agro advisories have already been started from state agricultural universities at Anand. Hissar, Ludhiana. Pantnagar, Trichur. Bikaner, Faizabad, Jabalpur, Kanpur, and Raipur.
Under a project entitled “Optimisation of small-scale irrigation technology for the marginal farmers”, a device has been developed on clay emitter system for irrigation, which is a simple fabrication and does not demand any pumping unit with any additional accessories. The movement of the water is governed by the diffusion pressure deficit principle, thereby saving the utilisation of water. A major initiative is being taken to launch land and water management programmes on an all-India-basis, based on the success of the watershed development projects ‘ now in advanced stages of completion.
A large number of people are suffering from polio and other diseases making them dependent on the rehabilitation aids for their Mobility. Because of the functional difficulties, the metallic callipers have every high rejection rate. DST, under its programme on Newer Fibres and Composites, has developed lightweight polymeric Floor Reaction Orthosis with several distinct advantages.
In the field of medical devices, a blood bag for storing blood has been developed. Over 2 million bags are produced every year. The know-how has also been transferred to Egypt. A heart valve production pilot project is underway and trials on human beings have been successfully completed. Further, a hydrocephalus shunt has been developed to help brain surgery.
In order to tap the skills available in engineering colleges for imparting training to the unemployed, a scheme called mass Employment Generation through Science and Technology has been started. Through this programme, it has become possible to generate nearly 20,000 jobs of sustainable nature. Some of the new areas of activities identified include cutting and polishing of artificial diamonds and fibre reinforced plastic products.
For up gradation of skills of the women in fields like poultry and quail farming, training in conservation of soil and moisture by planting specific types’ of plants, involving them in the identification of water resources and maintenance of conventional and non-conventional devices of drinking water and for weaving square and round coir mats and development of improved looms in hill areas, 28 projects have been approved.
Under the project “Development of the Tribal People in Sevarayan Hills. Yarcaud, Salem district, Tamul Nadu” income generation activities like rabbit rearing, beekeeping, housing. etc., have been introduced. Similarly a project on “Technology transfer to tribes of Kolli Hills and Salem district in Tamil Nadu” has been initiated to improve the standard of living of tribal families through the application of science and technology in’ areas of food, shelter, clothing, household equipment, drinking water, sanitation and income generation. Establishment of a model farm, awareness camps, science and cultural education are some of the activities which have been taken up under this project.
A pilot project called “Cost reduction techniques using locally available material” to provide low-cost houses to poor sections of the society has been successfully implemented. The programme involves on-the-job demonstration-cum-training for unskilled workers, masons, artisans, engineers, architects, etc.
Further, a cost-effective method of producing macro concrete roofing which can be laid over a light structure has been standardized at Development Alternative in Delhi. This new system costs only one-third of the conventional asbestos roofs. There has been an excellent response from entrepreneurs for setting up small-scale units for the manufacture of these roofs at the village level.
Satellite meteorology services have also been provided. INSAT-II ground receiving system has been installed and commissioned in synchronism with the operationalisation of the INSAT-if spacecraft. A novel feature is that the earth station or the system has been indigenously designed. It can process both INSAT-1 and INSAT-II signals. Good quality pictures from INSAT-II are being received regularly for assisting forecasters.
The various developmental programmes have thus demonstrated the successful application of science and technology in the service of the small farmer and towards rural upliftment.