Agri-technologies and travelling facts: case study of extension education in Tamil Nadu, India
This paper is motivated by two broad questions: how is technology transferred from academia to non-academic domains, and how well do facts within these technologies travel? These questions are explored in the context of a particular extension education program in Tamil Nadu, south India. The paper explores the extent to which fertigation technologies (drip irrigation) and other farm and postharvest technologies travelled from the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University to the farming community in two districts of north Tamil Nadu. The extension effort, involving direct scientist to farmer interaction, sought to push facts about such technologies – termed ‘precision farming’ – to the larger community through demonstration effects. We conclude that although facts about precision farming travelled well, the technologies themselves travelled once certain institutional barriers were overcome. This involved not only overcoming the farmers financial inability to invest in a relatively expensive technology, but also fostering cooperative behaviour and improving individual bargaining power through the formation of local farmers associations. This model of an extension education had an strong demonstration effect that encouraged the travel of critical facts about precision farming.
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