By NIZAM A. KHAN
Jan 31 - Feb 06, 2000
Pakistan is an agricultural country. 25% of G.D.P. is contributed by
agriculture and the productivity of land here is one of the poorest in the world. A little
education of farmers can do wonders for the national economy. Imagine just a 20% increase
in agricultural productivity means about 5% increase in G.D.P. which is not a mean
achievement by any standard. Whereas according to experts a potential exists in Pakistan
to almost double the productivity of land. Educating farmers in a systematically
organised, concerted effort in some "good agronomic practices" is the panacea
for all economic ills of Pakistan. Dramatic results can be achieved without making any
significant capital investments.
Long term plan: requires introduction of "basic principals
of agronomic science and practices" as a subject in school syllabi of rural areas.
Moving Government bureaucracy to bring about this change will take some time and effort.
In the mean time what we can do is to get some good textbooks written on this subject; get
them printed in large quantities and distribute them free of cost to farmers and all those
schools, madrassas, institutions etc. who are prepared to teach this subject: Cost of
printing about 20,000, books in the first instance at an average cost of Rs.50/each comes
to about Rupees one million only. Not much for such an important national cause.
Short term plan: using video based training modules would be an
ideal method for imparting such education to farmers on a wide scale. This is a modern
training technique. It can produce the desired results in a comparatively shorter period
at much lower cost. A module consists of a video presentation of 20 - 25 minutes, divided
into 3 or 4 parts. Each part is followed by reading a programmed text and a question
answer session. The whole session concludes in about 2 to 3 hours. At the end of the
session a booklet and a pocket card containing all necessary information is given to
participants as an additional capsule of knowledge in their hands for ready reference at
all times. Medium of instruction for these training modules will be Urdu and/or local
Main advantage of such training modules is that the course conductor or
instructor; you may call him a facilitator, a change agent, a champion of reform or
whatever you like; does not have to be an expert on the subject. He is there just to
facilitate and help participants to absorb the knowledge contained in the modules. If at
any time he comes across a difficult question from a participant, he can always provide it
to him after consulting an expert on the subject.
The quality of instruction provided by these training modules is
another big advantage. It is not only very high but also consistently the same given to
each group and individual, quite Independent of the abilities of the instructor. Retention
percentage is also very high as compared to a lecture by an expert on the subject.
Other advantages are: The knowledge contained in the modules is
specifically tailored to meet the requirements of the farmer and suited to the crop and
the area. No more and no less.
The knowledge is provided to him at his doorsteps; at an appropriate
time of the season.
The instructors do not have to be full time employees for this job.
They will be regular employees of the sponsor companies for this project i.e. agro and
pharma industries and banks, who will be the major beneficiaries of this green revolution.
They will be carefully selected, highly motivated individuals and work on part time basis
for this campaign. They will be suitably compensated on the basis of No. of sessions
conducted or the No. of farmers trained. Plus a suitable travelling allowance calculated
on the basis of actual mileage covered. But their main incentive will be a very lucrative
bonus to be given in direct proportion to the percentage increase of the land productivity
they achieve within the area of their responsibility. For this purpose the areas allotted
to each instructor/ team should be such that reliable production figures and statistics
must be regularly available for it. For example clearly demarcated districts or divisions
The campaign to educate the farmers for each cash crop will be quite
separate and independent of the other. It will be based on a set of about 5 or 6 training
modules. The subjects will be something like this.
Preparation of land.
Seeds and sowing.
Land, water and crop management. Fertilizers.
The total number of modules thus required for the entire campaign will
he around 24 or say at the most 30.
The cost of producing one module, including the video and the print
material etc. is estimated to be around Rupees one lac. The average cost of running a
campaign for one crop in one season throughout the country, if properly organised and
prudently conducted should not go beyond Rupees one million. One time investment required
in the shape of vehicles, video recorders, T V. sets etc. should not exceed Rupees one
million per team. This is only in case when the sponsor companies are not able to share
their vehicles and equipments for this national cause. The cost estimates are given just
to give you an idea to facilitate taking the decisions. As a matter of fact these costs
are nothing as compared to expected benefits and its importance to national economy.
The success of the whole scheme will depend on quality of leadership
for this project and the resources made available to them. It would be a folly to leave it
in the hands of the Govt. and its bureaucracy. The total amount required can easily be
subscribed by a few prosperous agro and pharma industries of Pakistan and some big banks,
who will not mind diverting a portion of their promotional budget towards this project in
their own interest. Because the resulting agricultural revolution will help expand the
market for their products.
Action plan: If the basic idea presented in this paper is
considered feasible and practical then the following action plan can be adopted.
Step-1, find the sponsors:
Since the total amount required for
this project is not much it should not be difficult to mobilise the sponsorship of just a
few multinational companies and banks for it.
Step-2, set up the project organisation:
in the same meeting
wherein sponsor companies commit financial resources they also name individuals from their
regular employer who will run this project. Their compensation, incentives,
responsibilities, targets etc. will be clearly defined as per guidelines mentioned above.
Step-3, prepare the training modules: Responsibility for
preparing the script for each module will be given to a team of 2 individuals, one
agronomist of an agro/pharma industry and another one, an expert from an agricultural
university. The same team will get the training modules made through a laid down
procedure, which must be free from bureaucratic complexities.
Step-4, run the campaign: Set up an organisation to run it.
Select instructor/teams of carefully selected highly motivated individuals from among the
sponsors' organisations. Allot clearly demarcated areas to each instructor /team for which
reliable production figures can be obtained to monitor the results. Provide them with
necessary equipment and facilities. And then let them go.
Step-5. Monitor the results, publicise it widely, create an
atmosphere of competition and keep on modifying and improving the modules and the campaign
based on feedback. The results are bound to surprise every one.
Finally, let me say that it is not necessary to start big and
take up the entire project in one go. It can be started for any one crop for a smaller
area so that big finances are not required at the first instance. The project can later be
expanded to cover larger areas and other corps after carefully evaluating cost benefit
ratios actually achieved in sample cases.