Agro officer using WhatsApp to connect with farmers

  • Kamaljit Singh Kamal, Hindustan Times, Gurdaspur
  • Updated: Oct 09, 2014 11:48 IST

Social media sites are not just forte of people living in urban areas, even those from rural areas are also making use of these platforms, perhaps, even in a more meaningful way.

Such sites have also taken the fascination of farmers, who are ever eager to get hooked onto these sites for obtaining solutions to problems being faced by them.

Perhaps a very few use such modern methods of information technology such as Amrik Singh, agriculture development officer (ADO) with the district agriculture department.

He has become another name for ‘ready solution to the problems faced by the farmers’ in the district as well as for other areas.

He tackles the farmers’ problems through traditional as well as modern methods. The traditional methods involve visits to fields attacked by some disease, while the modern means involve effective use of mobile phone to share information on agriculture with farmers. However, the ADO has moved a step forward by effectively using social media sites like Facebook, WhatsApp and email for sharing information with farmers, especially with the youth.

With an aim to create interest among new generation regarding farming, he has formed a WhatsApp group of 43 members of age group 20-35 years with the name ‘Young Progressive Farmers’.

On the WhatsApp, Amrik Singh has uploaded information regarding seed treatment of wheat and paddy, and also about soil testing-based application of phosphatic fertilisers in the cultivation of paddy. He has given details of these agricultural practices having been adopted by him in the cultivation of paddy in Sahari and Deol villages in Gurdaspur district, which resulted in saving Rs 1,300 per acre in both the villages.

On the ‘Young Progressive Farmers’ site, farmers can also get information about adverse impact of burning of wheat and paddy stubble.

He has also laid stress on straw management, which is beneficial to the farmers and helps saving the atmosphere from being polluted.

Amrik Singh successfully created awareness regarding management of yellow rust disease in wheat in the district not just by organising training camps at block and village level, but also through WhatsApp.

All information about the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is available on WhatsApp, which offers a promising alternative to the traditional method of paddy cultivation under which huge quantity of water is required for growing paddy crop.

The SRI is a technique that changes the way of the management of the plants, soil, water and nutrients. The SRI brings about an improvement in the productivity of land, labour, capital and water resources simultaneously.

The latest information uploaded on the site is ‘Single Bud Chip’ method of sugarcane cultivation. This method involves less seeds, less labourers and less investment, while it results in better crops, more yields and more profit.

Four research papers of Amrik Singh, which have been published by him in various research journals, also find a mention on WhatsApp along with details.

Those who interact with Amrik Singh through the social media site are not just farmers of Gurdaspur district, but from other districts of Punjab and other states as well.

The latest addition to the site is Barkat Ali, a farmer at Bikaner in Rajasthan, who is keen to know details of soil testing and its benefits.

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