Thursday, June 18, 2015

Krishi Vigyan Kendras

Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) are the frontline agricultural extension center funded by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). The KVKs focus on training and education of farmers, rural youth, on field demonstration of new and improved farming techniques etc.
It was felt that the Indian Farmers do not have knowledge about scientific farming methods, the soil-crop linkages, fertilizer requirements etc. Hence, KVKs were set up to ensure a last mile linkage, which would provide farmers with information and training about scientific farming, mitigation measures in case of adverse climatic events, consultancy services regarding the type of crops to be sown, the type and amount of fertilizer to be used etc.
However the KVKs have not had the impact that was envisioned.
1. KVKs have different organisational structures. While some come directly under ICAR, others are monitored by State Agricultural Universities or even Civil Society Organisations. This has led to problems of monitoring and co-ordination problems.
2. While the KVKs have had some impact by proving training and some advisory services, their mandate was very expansive which they have not been able to fulfill due to lack of budgetary support.
3. One KVK has been established in every district in the country. However, a district could be very large (Upto 38000 sq kms). Hence, one KVK has not been enough to cover the entire district. Thus, the impact on KVKs has been only in the immediate surrounding areas.
4. The KVKs do not have integration with the weather monitoring and forecasting services. This impacts their ability to advise farmers about the mitigating steps in case of adverse climate.
While KVKs have had some impact, there is potential to do a lot more. The government must look at reviewing the locations of KVKs, meet the manpower requirements and also consider setting up more than one KVK in a district. KVKs are essential in order to reach the goal of at least 4% growth in agriculture. They must be empowered to help proactively in achieving that target.

Street Vendors Act, 2014

By enacting the Street Vendors Act, 2014, the government aimed to balance three key objectives - Protecting the livelihoods of the vendors, ensuring congestion free public spaces and streets and ensuring the convenience of vending services for the consumers. However while the intention was good, it has not translated on ground -
1. The Act aims at ensuring a uniform legal framework to protect the livelihood of street vendors. However, it leaves major areas of regulation to the street vending scheme to be formulated by the state governments and implemented by the local authorities.
2. Formation of the Town Vending Committee with at least 40% representation of street vendors, one third of whom are women is a good step. However, in the creation of the street vending plan or in dispute redressal mechanism, the TVC has no role whatsoever. The national policy on Urban Street Vending, 2009 required that TVCs be consulted while deciding the vending zones.
3. The role of TVCs has been reduced to specifying time limits for issue and renewal of registration and vending certificate. And to store data regarding street vendors like category of vending, stall allotted etc. Since this law supercedes the laws enacted by states like Rajasthan and Gujarat which provided significant powers to the TVCs, it is actually a step backwards.
4. The act specifies that no vendor can be evicted without a 7 day notice by the local authority. Also the vendor will be entitled to a separate vending location. This provision has however been observed only in its breach with vendors being evicted at will based on the whims and fancies of police and local authorities.
While the intentions and the provisions of the law are good, it has not had a material impact on the lives of the vendors themselves. Enacting good laws is not the solution to any problem. It is only the first step. What is more important is how it is implemented. Now that the first step has been taken, the government must ensure that its implementation is in step with the spirit of the law to ensure that the objectives behind its enactment are met.