The Punjab Agriculture Department, Extension Wing has entered into an agreement worth Rs 170 million with an IT firm (LMKT) to develop computer applications, website, call centers, data center and computer networking under the project ‘Extension Services 2.0 Farmer Facilitation through modernised extension.’
Sources in the Department told Business Recorder here on Thursday that the main objective of the project is to increase linkages of field staff of the extension wing with the growers and carry out sampling of land throughout the province as soil analysis is not only critically required for accuracy in fertiliser applications but is also needed to increase the efficiency through soil sample information and soil test calibration.
The goal of soil testing is to provide an accurate assessment of the soil’s fertility status, which can be used to make fertiliser recommendations. Thus in addition to creation of awareness about correct fertiliser application, soil tests can also be used to determine where fertilisers or manure should not be applied. Furthermore, development of soil database by using ICT tools such as GIS is also the need of the day to make this information public with more certainty and reliability. Moreover, any such information or scientific research will have real impact on farm productivity and livelihoods only if this intervention and methodology is adopted, sources added.
“We are supposed to take 2,800,000 samples in five years while till August 2016; the staff has taken some 150,000 samples. We are hopeful to take 600,000 samples during the current financial year and maximum of those will be taken by January next,” said a highly placed source in the Extension Wing of the Department. There is 28 million acres of land being ploughed in irrigated area and the department has divided this land in to grids of 10 acres each, said the sources.
The project’s total cost is over Rs 4.277 billion which will be used not only for developing the ICT tools but also to provide motorcycles to field staff and vehicles to the officers. It also includes GIS mapping, strengthening of capacity of existing soil Laboratories, Identification of Crop Specialists from Universities, Research and Extension Organisations for on line advice to the extension agents and farmers.
The Agriculture Extension 2.0 project envisages a comprehensive soil testing plan in the province and linking that information with ICT-enabled extension staff and system to provide diagnostic-fed informed extension advice to the farmers.
Source: Business Recorder