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India: Agricultural Extension
Country Study > Chapter 7 > Agriculture > Economic Development > Development Programs > Agricultural Extension


After independence in 1947, the government's first step toward building an agricultural extension system was expansion of the World War II Grow More Food Campaign. Administrators and extension workers were exhorted to convince cultivators of the gains in yields that could be obtained through the use of improved seeds, compost, farmyard manure, and better cultivation practices. Rural agents, often inundated with other assignments, had little or no training for extension work, however. Gains in yields were minimal, and India's leaders came to realize that converting millions of poor farmers to the use of new technologies was a colossal task.

The Community Development Programme was inaugurated in 1952 to implement a systematic, integrated approach to rural development. The nation was divided into development blocks, each consisting of about 100 villages having populations of 60,000 to 70,000 people. By 1962 the entire country was covered by more than 5,000 such blocks. The key person in the program was the village-level worker, who was responsible for transmitting to about ten villages not only farming technology, but also village uplift programs such as cooperation, adult literacy, health, and sanitation. Although each block was staffed with extension workers, the villagers themselves were expected to provide the initiative and much of the needed financial and labor resources, which they were not in a position to do or inclined to do. Although progress had been made by the early 1960s, it was apparent that the program was spread too thin to bring about the hoped-for increase in agricultural production. Criticism of the program led to more specialized development projects, and some of the functions were taken up by local village bodies. There was only a negligible allocation for community development in the sixth plan, however, and the program was phased out in the early 1980s.

The Intensive Agricultural District Programme, launched in five districts in 1960 by the central government in cooperation with the United States-based Ford Foundation, used a distinctly different approach to boosting farm yields. The program operated under the premise that concentrating scarce inputs in the potentially most productive districts would increase farm-crop yield faster than would a wider but less concentrated distribution of resources in less productive districts. Among these inputs were technical staff, fertilizers, improved seeds, and credit. Under the technical guidance of American cooperative specialists, the program placed unusual emphasis on organizational structures and administrative arrangements. For the first time, modern technology was systematically introduced to Indian farmers. Within a decade, the program covered fifteen districts, 28,000 villages, and 1 million inhabitants. The Intensive Agricultural District Programme was thus a significant influence on the forthcoming Green Revolution.

Last Updated: September 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for India was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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