AIR's broadcasts did make a difference
A phenomenal success was achieved in production through sustained broadcasts during the `Green Revolution period'
THIS REFERS to the article "A two-way channel for development politics" by K. Parameswaran (Open Page, December 10). While describing the role of the government's electronic media, the writer had contended that the credibility of the development stories produced by the government media may be questioned by the common man. His assertion is absolutely wrong for the following facts.
In the 1960s, when the high yielding varieties of food crops, as a part of the Green Revolution, were introduced for the first time in the country, it was All India Radio which undertook a major countrywide campaign on the cultivation of these crops on a sustained day to day basis for over 10 years from 1967.
For this purpose, special units for the production of programmes on the high yielding varieties were formed in many stations of AIR all over the country. These programme units, manned by subject specialists, undertook field visits and recorded and broadcast first hand accounts of the farmers, who started growing the new varieties of paddy and wheat.
In these broadcasts, agricultural scientists and officials of the State agricultural departments played a vital role in helping All India Radio in disseminating appropriate information to the farmers so that at every stage of the farming practices, the agriculturists could follow the prescribed procedures to maximise the crop output.
In order to clear the doubts about farming procedures, the agriculturists were also invited to participate regularly in the discussion forum that was set up at AIR. Many small and medium farmers took active interest in the discussion forum, which was named "Radio Rural Forum" and were benefited by understanding the nuances of the modern methods of cultivation and integrated farming procedures.
In fact, it was a great wonder to see illiterate farmers getting familiar with terms such as endrin, malathion, phosphates, etc., and using these terms frequently in their day to day conversation.
This was possible because the farmers showed great interest in learning through the broadcasts of AIR and reposed total confidence in the content of the broadcasts. They reaped immense benefits by adopting modern farming practices, which were hitherto unknown and alien to them.
The Kuruvai paddy production in Tamil Nadu went up by leaps and bounds to the surprise of many, and the paddy crop variety Aduthurai-27 (kuruvai crop ADT-27) was hailed as `Radio Nellu' (radio paddy) all over the country and abroad!
Had only the Union Government continued with the farm and home units of AIR, the country could have enhanced its agricultural production over the years. (The present day imports could have been easily avoided!) Instead the government chose to virtually close down these programme units by not filling up the vacant posts after 1977.
The government created the posts of "field visitors" in agricultural departments, who could not match the requirements of the vast number of agriculturists in the remote parts of the country. If only these farm broadcasts units had been strengthened at various AIR stations, we could have easily trained the farmers to accept and start cultivating the Bt varieties of crops, that have been introduced some years back, following appropriate farming practices.
Since Independence, AIR had played a very crucial role in improving the economy of the country. A phenomenal success was achieved in agricultural crop production through sustained AIR broadcasts during the "Green Revolution period."
(The writer is former Deputy Director-General, AIR & DD, Prasar Bharati, SZ)
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