CONCEPT AND OPERATION OF AGRICULTURAL TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (ATMA)

In order to address the key constraints faced by extension system in the country with respect to reducing capacity of public extension services, its lack of decentralized and demand driven focus, the Innovations in Technology Dissemination component of National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP) was implemented in seven States in the country namely, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra and Punjab through four project districts in each State. This component aimed at pilot testing new institutional arrangements for technology dissemination at district level and below in order to move towards an integrated extension delivery. The project process involved adopting bottom up planning procedures for setting the research and extension agency in order to make the technology dissemination farmer driven and farmer accountable. The extension delivery was oriented towards group approach catering to the location specific requirement of the farmers. Gender concerns have been given adequate emphasis under the project.

To operationalize the above reform initiatives under ITD - NATP an Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) has been established in each district as an autonomous institution providing flexible working environment involving all the stakeholders in project planning and implementation. Diagrammatic depiction of composition and processes of ATMA . The ATMA is a unique district level institution, which caters to activities in agriculture and allied departments adopting a Farming System Approach. It can receive funds directly (Government of India/States, Membership fees, beneficiaries contribution etc). Local research and extension priorities are set through Strategic Research and Extension Plans (SREPs) which are developed by using participatory methodologies such as Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA). ATMA is be supported by a Governing Board (GB) and a Management Committee (MC). The programmes and procedures concerning district wise R-E activities are determined by ATMA, GB and implemented by its MC .

In order to manage programme implementation at block level and below, ATMA has established a Farm Information and Advisory Centre (FIAC) at each block in the district. In effect the FIACs acts as extension planning and operational arm of ATMA . These are supported by two groups; one, a group of technical officers at block derived from different functional areas termed as Block Technology Team (BTT), whereas, the others is a Farmers Advisory Committee (FAC) which is a body exclusively of farmers. While BTT develops the Block Action Plans (BAPs) in light of the SREP and is responsible for its implementation, the FAC plays a more proactive role by scrutinizing, improving and approving BAPs, before these are referred to the ATMA GB for its final approval.

Commodity oriented Farmer Interest Groups (FIGs) are promoted at block/village level to make the technology generation/dissemination farmer driven and farmer accountable. These Village level FIGs are ultimately federated at block/district level and represented in FACs and GB. In order to address the extension needs of these groups, ATMA has established close linkages with various players operating at cutting edge level viz. public, private, NGOs, Para extension workers, input dealers, etc.

In order to provide needed HRD support in innovative areas of extension delivery a State Agricultural Management and Extension Training Institute (SAMETI) has been established either by strengthening one of the existing apex training institute in the state or by creating a new SAMETI in a State Agricultural University (SAU).

Project activities, at state level are closely monitored by an Inter Departmental Working Group (IDWG) functioning under Chairmanship of APC or Secretary (Agriculture) of the state. A Project Implementation Cell (PIC) created at the State Headquarter level provides support to the IDWG .

The key functions of ATMA Governing Board would be following

  • Review and approve Strategic Research and Extension Plan (SREP) and annual action plans that are prepared and submitted by the participating units.
  • Receive and review annual reports presented by the participating units, providing feedback and direction to them as needed, for various research and extension activities being carried out within the district.
  • Receive and allocate project funds to carry out priority research, extension and related activities within the district.
  • Foster the organization and development of Farmers Interest Groups (FIGs) and Farmers Organizations (FOs) within the district.
  • Facilitate the greater involvement of private sector and firms and organizations in providing inputs, technical support, agro-processing and marketing services to farmers.
  • Encourage agriculture lending institutions to increase the availability of capital to resource poor and marginal farmers, especially SC, ST and women farmers.
  • Encourage each line department, plus the KVK and ZRS, to establish farmer advisory committees to provide feedback and input into their respective R-E Programmes.
  • Enter into contracts and agreements as appropriate to promote and support agricultural development activities within the district.
  • Identify other sources of financial support that would help ensure the financial sustainability of the ATMA and its participating units.
  • Establish revolving funds / accounts for each participating unit, and encourage each unit to make available technical services, such as artificial insemination or soil testing, on a cost recovery basis moving towards full cost recovery in a phased manner.
  • Arrange for the periodic audit of ATMAs financial accounts; and
  • Adopt and amend the rules and by-laws for the ATMA.

ATMA MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE (MC)

The Management Committee would be responsible for planning and executing the day-to-day activities of ATMA.

Key functions of Management Committee (MC)

  • Carryout periodic Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) to identify the problems and constraints faced by different socio-economic groups and farmers within the district.
  • Prepare an integrated, Strategic Research and Extension Plan (SREP) for the district that would specify short and medium term adaptive research as well as technology validation and refinement and extension priorities for the district: these priorities should reflect during the PRA.
  • Prepare annual action plans that would be submitted to the ATMA Governing Board for review, possible modification and approval.
  • Maintain appropriate project accounts for submission to Technology Dissemination Unit (TDU) for audit purposes.
  • Coordinate the execution of these annual action plans through participant line departments, ZRSs, KVKs, NGOs, FIGs / FOs and allied institutions, including private sector firms.
  • Establish coordinating mechanisms at the Block level, such as Farm Information & Advisory Centres (FIACs) that would integrate extension and technology transfer activities at the block and village levels.
  • Provide annual performance reports to the Governing Board outlining the various research extension and related targets that were actually carried out.
  • Provide secretariat to Governing Board and initiate action on policy direction, investment decisions and other guidance received from the Governing Board.

FARM INFORMATION AND ADVISORY CENTRE (FIAC)

AT BLOCK LEVEL

Under each ATMA FIACs are created at the block level. It consists of two bodies namely Farmer Advisory Committee (FAC) and Block Technology Team (BTT). The FAC is a body of farmer representatives (11-15 members representing various Enterprises and socio economic strata). The BTT on the other hand is a group of technical advisors operating at block level representing agriculture and allied sectors. FAC and BTT, taken together, act as planning and operational arm of ATMA.

BLOCK TECHNOLOGY TEAM (BTT)

It is an Inter Departmental Team of Agriculture and Line Departments operating at block level. An indicative composition of BTT is given below, however, the composition would change from place to place depending on the critical areas pertaining to different states.

Composition

Block level officers of Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, Plant Protection, Veterinary Science, Soil Conservation, Extension, Sericulture, Corporative, Marketing etc.
The senior most officials irrespective of the participating departments head the Block Technology Team as BTT convenor.

Key functions of Block Technology Team (BTT)

  • Operationalize the SREP in each block and move towards single window extension system.
  • Help district core team in up gradation of SREP.
  • Prepare Block Action Plan detailing extension activities to be undertaken.
  • Coordinate the implementation of extension programmes detailed in the Block Action Plan.
  • Facilitate formation of FIGs/ FOs at the block level and below.

FARMER ADVISORY COMMITTEE (FAC)

The Farmer Advisory Committee consists of 11-15 members covering different categories of farmers covering under the given block, with due representation to women farmers and weaker sections of the society. Composition given below with respect to one of the blocks under ATMA-Shimla, other districts may suitably modified in composition as per their agro-ecological situation.

Key functions of FACs

  • Act as an agency for providing farmer feedback mechanism.
  • Help set block extension priorities and recommend resource allocation across programme areas.
  • Recommend Block Action Plan for approval of ATMA GB.
  • Review and provide advise to each implementation unit at block level.
  • FAC shall meet once in a month during the season and quarterly in lean season.
  • Help in formation of Farmer Interest Groups at block level and below.

STATE AGRICULTURAL MANAGEMENT AND EXTENSION TRAINING INSTITUTE (SAMETI)

The State Agricultural Extension Management and Training Institutes (SAMETI) would be strengthened by way of providing training managerial and equipments, communication support, programme cost SAMETIs are proposed to be autonomous institutes with greater flexibility in structural and operational aspects.

Key functions of SAMETI

  • To provide capacity building support in Extension Management related areas to the extension functionaries both from public and private sector
  • To provide consultancy in the areas like project planning, appraisal, implementation etc:
  • Develop and promote the application of management tools for improving the effectiveness of Agricultural Extension services through better management of human and material resources.
  • Organize need based training programmes for middle level and grass-root level agricultural extension functionaries: and
  • Develop modules on Management, Communication, Participatory Methodologies etc, as a sequel to the feedback from training programmes.

STATE LEVEL INTER DEPARTMENTAL WORKING GROUP (IDWG)

In pursuance of the number of mechanisms built into the project design and to ensure effective coordination among the departments like agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, horticulture, soil conservation etc. it is proposed to constitute a state level inter departmental working group under the chairmanship of the Agriculture Production Commissioner/ Secretary agriculture with the following composition:

Key functions of IDWG

  • To provide a mechanism for interactions with the Technology Dissemination Management Committee (TDMC) of the DAC, GOI, guide the human resource development activity and to monitor the district level technology dissemination programme.
  • To oversee and support Agricultural Extension Research activities being undertaken by ATMA and to make policy interventions on inter departmental matters including issues related to Women in Agriculture and co-ordination thereof.
  • To promote and establish integrated approach in Transfer of technology at state, division and district level by agriculture and line departments.
  • To establish effective linkages with different line departments, marketing, input and credit institutions, NGOs, Private/ Corporate sector to promote large scale extension reforms.
  • To internalize new concepts and institutional arrangement successfully demonstrated by the ATMAs; and
  • To deal with any other policy issue related to implementation of the project, which emerges from time to time.

A Project Implementation Cell (PIC) would be established in each States with the office of the Agriculture Production Commissioner (APC)/ Secretary Agriculture/ Director Agriculture. This PIC would monitor project activities being carried out in each pilot district and ensure that project funds released to the States are included within state budget.