ICAR-NRCB has initiated anendeavoron “Banana Farmers to Banana Experts (BF-BE)”with an objective to provide A to Z banana information to the farmers and making them as experts in banana cultivation with the collaboration of Agricultural Technology Management Agency – Support to State Extension Programmes for Extension Reforms Scheme (ATMA-SSEPERS). Under this new initiative, continuous hands-on training programmesfor the duration of one/two/tree days were organized foreleven district farmers viz., Villupuram, Kanyakumari, Chengalpattu, Thiruvarur, Dindigul, Ranipet, Pudukkottai,Nilgiri,Thanjavur, Karur and Theni of Tamil Nadu state. From each district forty farmers were participated and thus 440 farmers were trained during the period of December – January month. Each training programme was formulated with the different modules viz., banana improvement, production, protection, post-harvest and value addition. Extension and filed visits were part of the training. Farmers were provided with holistic view of banana cultivation from selection of suckers to value addition. Dr. S. Uma, Director ICAR- NRCB and Course Director, said the initiative was conceptualized with the amalgamation of both practical and theory components on best practices in banana cultivation. It was designed to help farmers understand the science behind each cultivation practices and they could apply them on field not only for banana but for other crops as well. Further, she added that ICAR-NRCB had completed such initiative initially for 11 districts and still other districts also approaching us for the same kind of initiative. Dr. C. Karpagam, Principal Scientist(Agricultural Extension) & Coordinator of the programme emphasized that the forty farmers from the particular district who trained at ICAR-NRCB will act as a para-extension workers for their respective villages as well as for ICAR-NRCB and this is the uniqueness of this kind of Programme. ICAR-NRCB is maintaining all the 440 farmers’ data base and that will be utilized for the NRCB’s outreachprogrammes in future. Further, he mentioned that already efforts have been initiated to include the 440 banana experts in the ICAR-NRCB extension outreach programme viz., Front Line Demonstration (FLD), On Farm Trial (OFT), Kela Mela, development of banana cafeteria et., at their respective districts. All the Scientists and technicians of different sections of the ICAR-NRCB handled the training classes for all the eleven districts’ farmers.
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