The Second Education Commission (1964-66) under the chairmanship of Dr. D. S. Kothari, recommended for the establishment of agricultural polytechnics to provide vocational education in agriculture to school dropouts and other rural youths. After careful deliberation by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Agriculture and the Planning Commission and as a follow up of the recommendation, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) appointed a committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mohan Singh Mehta of Seva Mandir, Udaypur in 1973 for formulating the institutional design of Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK) for providing vocational training in agriculture.

The basic principles enunciated by the Mehta Committee (1973) include:

  1. The Kendra will impart learning through work-experience and hence will be concerned with technical literacy, the acquisition of which does not necessarily require the ability to read and write.

  2. The Kendra will impart training only to those extension workers who are employed and to the practising farmers and fishermen. In other words, the Kendra will cater to the needs of those who are already employed or those who wish to be self-employed.

  3. There will be no uniform syllabus for the Kendras. The syllabus and programme of each Kendra will be flexible in nature and tailored according to the felt needs, natural resources and potential for agricultural growth in that particular area.

Krishi Vigyan Kendras (Farm Science Centre), an innovative science based institutions, were thus established mainly to impart vocational training to the farmers and field level extension workers. The concept of vocational training in agriculture through KVK grew substantially due to greater demand for improved agricultural technology by the farmers. They not only required knowledge and understanding of the intricacy of technologies, but also progressively more and more skills in various complex agricultural operations for adoption on their farms. The effectiveness of the KVK was further enhanced by adding the activities related to on-farm testing and Front-Line Demonstration on major agricultural technologies in order to make the training of farmers location specific, need based and resource-oriented.

The training programmes were designed to impart the latest knowledge to the farmers through work experience by applying the principles of ‘Teaching by Doing’ and ‘Learning by Doing’. The prime goal of KVK is to impart training as per needs and requirements in agriculture and allied enterprises to all farmers, farm women and farm youths including school drop-outs in the rural area. No formal certificate or diploma is awarded, irrespective of duration of the courses to avoid the rush for jobs instead of self employment. While designing the courses, the concept of farming system as well as farming situation are taken into account to ensure that the enterprises in which they are trained are commercially and ecologically viable, sustainable and profitable. Such vocational trainings help them to sustain themselves through self-employment and to make them self-reliant economically and thus discourages them to migrate to the urban areas.

KVKs provide training not only in agriculture and allied vocations but also in other income-generating activities that may supplement the income of farm families. The methods employed in training could be formal and non-formal or a combination of both, depending upon the needs but emphasis remains to be on work-experience, as suggested by Mohan Singh Mehta Committee Report that “the programme should be operated as a plan of continuing education both in the technical and general sense.”

Objectives of Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs)

  1. Planning and conducting survey of the operational area in order to prepare the resource inventory with special reference to identifying the training needs of the farming community.

  2. Planning and conducting production- oriented, need-based short and long duration training courses both on campus as well as in the villages for various target groups with priority on the weaker and the poor.

  3. Developing and organizing non-formal educational programmes by way of field days, farm visits, farmers fair, radio talk, Farm Science clubs etc. as the follow up information support to training courses.

  4. Organizing farm science clubs, both in rural schools and in villages in order to induce in younger generation a liking for and an interest for agricultural and allied sciences and scientific farming through supervised projects.

  5. Developing and maintaining the campus farms and demonstration units on scientific lines as the facilities for providing work experience to the trainees as also disseminating the latest technical know how.

  6. Providing practical facilities of the Kendra to the teachers and the students of the vocational agriculture of the higher secondary schools.

  7. Imparting some general education to rural illiterates and school drop-outs in order to make them not only good farmers but also better citizens.

  8. Providing added training facilities in the areas for home making and nutrition education for rural community.

  9. Gradually enlarging the training facilities to encompass other important areas such as home crafts , cottage industries etc. consistent to the requirements of the Integrated rural Development in collaboration with concerned organization.

  10. Implementing all such schemes of the ICAR and other related organizations which intend to strengthen the training programmes of the Kendra.

The first KVK, on a pilot basis, was established in1974 at Pondicherry under the administrative control of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore. The mandates of KVKs are as follows-

  • Conducting “On-Farm Testing” for identifying technologies in terms of location specific sustainable land use systems.
  • Organising training to update the extension personnel with emerging advances in agricultural research on regular basis.
  • Organising short and long term training courses in agriculture and allied vocations for the farmers and rural youths with emphasis on “Learning by doing” for higher production on farms and generating self-employment.
  • Organising Front Line Demonstrations (FLDs) on various crops to generate production data and feed back information.

In order to achieve the above mandates, the following broad objectives would help the KVKs to develop their specific objectives.-

  • To promptly demonstrate the latest agricultural technologies to the farmers as well as extension workers of State Departments of Agriculture/Horticulture/ Fishery/ Animal Science/ NGOs with a view to reduce the time lag between the technology generation and its adoption.
  • To test and verify the technologies in the socio-economic conditions of the farmers with a view to study the production constraints and to modify the technologies to make them appropriate.
  • To impart trainings to the practising farmers/ farm women, rural youth and field level extension functionaries by following the methods of “Teaching by doing” and “Learning by doing’.
  • To back-up with training and communication supports to the district level development departments viz; Agriculture/ Horticulture/ Fisheries/ Animal science and NGOs in their extension programmes.

The KVKs, thus are the down-to-earth institutions committed to vocational training, transfer of latest technologies, on farm research and thus, serving as the light house for overall rural development in the district. The activities of the KVK include technology assessment, refinement and transfer, aiming to bridge the gap between the technology developed at the research institutions and its adoption at the field level by the farmers through demonstration of technology/ products etc. and training of farmers, rural youths and extension personnel. On the basis of “India-2002”, there were 578 rural districts spread over the country and this figure has further been raised to 602 districts as per the latest data available on the internet report of NIC. In view of continuous increase in the number of districts, it is agreed to have one KVK in each district by the end of Xth plan. Realising the importance of technology assessment, refinement and transfer, the Planning Commission has allocated Rs. 500 crores specifically for the establishment of new KVKs during Xth plan period. The DDG(AE) during the 11th EFC meeting of Xth plan, held in New Delhi on 30th Sept. 2003 out lined the importance of two issues in the context of the present scenario of agriculture in India- (i) the technologies have to be assessed and refined before their transfer and (ii) a programme approach involving various technology components relevant to the farmers in varying farming situations will be required for a perceptible change. The concept of technology assessment and refinement is based on participatory mode ensuring greater scientists-farmer linkage and access to agricultural technologies generated by research systems to the farming community. For this, the role of KVKs are of immense importance for overall agricultural and rural development through its various research and technology transfer mechanisms.