An investigative and evaluative study of factors affecting quality of agricultural and farm information services in Kerala
Agriculture is not only a country’s backbone of food, livelihood and ecological security systems, but is also the very soul of its sovereignty. In Kerala population density is high and land is scarce. To achieve sustainable advancement in quality of human life, meeting the domestic food requirement is to be given foremost priority in development plans. As the area of cultivation cannot be increased and growth of population cannot be controlled growth in food production is to be achieved by qualitative improvement in farming. This requires improvements in material inputs, farming techniques, storage technology and research. Effective integration of these factors is tied closely to adequate information flow, which can be ensured only by an efficient information system for agricultural education, research, extension and development. So evaluation and improvement of existing information services is very crucial for sustainable agricultural growth. The study evaluates the existing information resources, facilities, services, possibilities for resource sharing, accessibility of external sources, and the factors that affect the quality and efficiency of information services in agricultural sector. Coverage is limited to the State of Kerala. Sample consist 105 institutions of different levels, and information users consisting of 426 scientists and 220 farmers. Different sets of questionnaires and interview schedule were used to elicit information. The study found that agricultural research conducted at various institutions in the region at huge public expense has generated knowledge for improving production. Along with these huge collections of acquired content is also stored in the sector. But when a farmer, an extension worker, a scientist or an administrator needs information it is not easily accessible. The study found that agricultural sector fails to effectively bank on information resources available due to the lack of an information system and network. Recommends an Agricultural and Farm Information System for Kerala. Suggests a model plan for a computer communication network for resource sharing between the agricultural institutions in the State, which will also ensure, smooth flow of results of research down to the grassroots level to achieve maximum productivity in agriculture.