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INTRODUCTION

"What a man hears, he may doubt; what he sees, he may also doubt; but what he does, he cannot doubt."

Seaman A. Knapp Agriculture Extension

Pioneer (Founder of Concept of Demonstrations)

        One of the major functions of Agricultural Scientists and Extension workers is disseminating useful and practical information obtained through research to farmers. The efficient and effective ways to do this among others, is through well-planned and carefully organized Frontline Demonstrations (FLDs). The on-farm FLDs serve as one of the most effective Extension Education tools ever developed for transfer of technology. Although planning and executing FLDs require considerable time and effort, the payback comes when farmers readily adapt practices they perceive to be appropriate under local conditions. This concept is popularly known as "seeing is believing." And the farmers who observe FLDs on the latest techniques, practices and varieties and then apply them to their own particular situations will become future Extension leaders.

        The FLDs will have tremendous impact on the diffusion and adoption of modern technologies, only when they are conducted with utmost care. FLDs should not be casually planned or implemented. Instead, as the name implies, FLDs should have predictable outcomes based on a research foundation. FLDs should illustrate the application of appropriate technology, that is, technology that fits the local set of conditions. When this occurs, maximum learning will result from the resources invested.

HISTORY OF FLDs

        The need for FLDs was first recognized nearly a century ago by Seaman A. Knapp, an Extension pioneer. Knapp's theory was that farmers would not change their methods as a result of observing farms operated at public expense, but that FLDs conducted by farmers themselves on their own farms under ordinary farm conditions were the answer.

        In 1903, Knapp proved his point through a well planned demonstration. The demonstration included a small farm in Texas planted half to corn and half to cotton. The purpose was to illustrate the effects of using different seed varieties, fertilizers, methods of planting, and cultivation. The farmer made $700 more than might have been expected and the demonstration was a success. Then the opportunity came to use demonstrations on a broad scale in the weevil-infested areas of Texas and two adjoining states. This marked the beginning of FLDs in the Extension Services of the World. Along with many other countries, India also harnessed the power of demonstrations in disseminating the agricultural information in last few decades.

FLDS AND OTHER DEMONSTRATIONS

        Experimentation and adaptation of extension methods had been the case with Indian efforts to disseminate agricultural information for last few decades. The extension methods are meant for extending new agricultural knowledge, skills and technologies to the rural people by drawing their attention towards them, arousing their interest and helping them to have a successful experience of the new practice. One of such methods used effectively in India is method of demonstrations. In practice, India has adapted several kinds of demonstrations. A proper understanding of different types of demonstrations and their selection for a particular type of work is necessary in this regard.

        The terms like On-Farm Trials (OFT), Minikit Trials, Result Demonstrations, Method Demonstrations, Frontline Demonstrations create much confusion to the scientists, particularly non-extension scientists. A comprehension in this regard is essential to carry out these tasks effectively.

Result Demonstration

        Result demonstration is an educational test to prove the advantages of recommended practices and to demonstrate their applicability to the local condition. It is conducted by a farmer under the direct supervision of an extension worker. It is designed to teach others, in addition to the person who conducts the demonstration.It helps the farmers to learn by seeing and doing. This method can be used to show the superiority of practices, such as the use of fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides and high yielding varieties of seeds, by showing the results.

Method Demonstration

        It is used to show the technique of doing things or carrying out new practices, e.g. preparing a nursery-bed, treating seed with insecticides and fungicides, line-sowing, taking a soil sample, grafting fruit trees, etc. This method is usually used for groups of people.

National Demonstrations

        National demonstrations are the "first-line demonstrations," conducted by researchers on the farmers' fields to show how production can be increased per unit of area and per unit of time. These demonstrations usually include the system of multiple cropping and the use of high-yielding varieties, along with the best package of practices. They were first initiated on a modest scale in 1965 and have now become a part of the agricultural production programme of the country.

On-farm Research

        This is a problem-oriented approach to agricultural research that begins by diagnosing the conditions, practices, and problems of particular groups of farmers. Once the problems are identified, a research demonstration program is designed to address them. A key part of any such program is conducting experiments on farmers' fields under farmers' conditions and management.

Minikit Trials

        As the name indicates, the demonstrations are conducted in farmers' fields by providing them with critical inputs in a "minikit" form. Generally minikit trials are conducted by supplying certified seeds of high yielding varieties to the farmers. This kind of trials help in spread of recently released varieties by producing seed locally and in providing the sufficient quantities of seed required by the farmers.

Front-line Demonstrations:

        The Front Line Demonstrations (FLDs) are extension programmes formulated by ICAR and funded by the Ministry of Agriculture for demonstrating and disseminating the research technologies developed at research stations by the scientists in the farmers' fields. Since the technology generators (scientists) are directly involved in the demonstrations, they are called "Front¬¨Line" Demonstrations (FLDs). Usually, these are organized in a post -release stage. The FLDs are one of the four Frontline Extension efforts initiated by the ICAR. The rest three are Lab to Land Programme (LLP), Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVKs) and Operational Research Project (ORPs).

        Different types of demonstrations have definite purpose and design; hence the agricultural professionals need to plan them accordingly.

Figure I : Conceptual Model of Front Line Demonstrations

                     
Concept : Dr. Shaik N Meera (Senior Scientist & CPI)      Copyright ¬© 2010-2012 by DRR Hyderabad. All Rights Reserved.