July 15, 2018
E-governance and dissemination of agricultural information
Under the leadership of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Bengal Government has brought in a lot of positive changes in the lives of farmers. One of the ways has been through the application of information and communication technology (ICT).
The three primary aspects of the e-governance structure that the Agriculture Department has put in place are the Matir Katha web portal, Matir Katha-Krishoker Katha app and Matir Katha Online Licensing System. Under the Matir Katha project, all field-level functionaries at the block-level have been provided with hand-held devices having built-in content.
All departmental offices at all levels – block, subdivision, district, range and state – have been adequately computerised.
Matir Katha web portal: The Matir Katha web portal disseminates information and advisories to farmers. The content of is in two broad categories – scientific practices (both in Bengali and in English) for 93 crops and interactive modules on crop-related questions and answers, including farmers’ training, integrated nutrient management (INM), integrated pest management (IPT), fertilizer and pesticide calculators, and agricultural advisories and activities.
Matir Katha-Krishoker Katha app: Through the Matir Katha-Krishoker Katha app for smartphones and tablets, farmers post their queries directly to officials of the department, which are answered promptly. There is also a toll-free phone number – 18001031100. Farmers’ queries get answered in the shortest possible time. Answers and advisories are also sent through SMS. Till date, 2.6 lakh queries have been handled.
Matir Katha Online Licensing System: The Matir Katha Online Licensing System, operated through the Matir Katha web portal, facilitates ease of doing business. Instead of visiting departmental offices, entrepreneurs interested in doing business in seeds, fertilizers and chemicals can now just log in to the relevant page of the portal and apply for a license, which is issued within 30 days. The applicant has to visit the relevant office of the department only once for the verification of documents, the date being communicated through SMS.
Dissemination of agricultural information
For the dissemination of modern technology up to the grassroots level, the State Agriculture Department organises various types of training programmes for farmers and for farmers’ sons, conducts group meetings and participates in fairs, both in India and outside India, and organises fairs in the State too.
Fairs and festivals: The department participated in World Food India 2017 in New Delhi to promote Bengal’s achievements in the agriculture sector and intimate prospective investors about the opportunities existing for agro-based industries. It turned out to be a big success. Mati Utsav is organised every year in the month of January at Mati Tirtha Krishi Katha in Bardhaman. Mati Tirtha Krishi Katha is a unique centre, set up to facilitate farming, fisheries, animal husbandry, horticulture, floriculture and other soil-based activities. Besides, subdivision and block-level Krishi Melas are organised throughout the state. Remarkable achievements of farmers are recognised through the Krishak Samman and Krishak Ratna awards.
Television and radio programmes: The Agriculture Department arranges for the circulation and broadcasting of agricultural advisories, the latter in both electronic and print media. A live phone-in programme called ‘Aamra Chas Kori Anande’ is aired on All India Radio for bilateral communication between farmers and agricultural experts. Officers of the department participate as experts in the weekly ‘Krishi Darshan’ programme telecast on Doordarshan and some other channels.
Thus, as we see, through the above-mentioned efforts, the Trinamool Congress Government is leaving no stone unturned for disseminating every manner of useful information and advice to the farmers of Bengal. As a result, Bengal is now one of the best-performing States in the agriculture sector.