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Krishi Sakhis: Empowering Rural India through Agricultural Development and Community Leadership

The article explores how Krishi Sakhis are spearheading agricultural development in rural India by offering training, community empowerment, and bridging traditional practices with modern innovations.

Shivam Dwivedi
Krishi Sakhis: Empowering Rural India through Agricultural Development and Community Leadership
Krishi Sakhis: Empowering Rural India through Agricultural Development and Community Leadership

In the heartlands of rural India, a quiet yet powerful revolution is taking place. It is driven by an inspiring group of women known as ‘Krishi Sakhis.’ These women, deeply respected and trusted within their communities, are not just participants in agricultural development- they are the driving force behind it. Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, highlights that agriculture is the foundation of India’s economy, and lifting farmers up is important to fulfilling the country’s dreams of progress.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's forthcoming visit to Varanasi on June 18, 2024, marks a significant event in this trajectory. During this visit, PM Modi will release the 17th instalment of the PM KISAN scheme, aimed at directly benefitting farmers across the country. Additionally, he will confer certificates upon over 30,000 self-help groups, acknowledging their role as ‘Krishi Sakhis.’ These women, known affectionately as 'Krishi Sakhis' or agricultural friends, embody the spirit of grassroots empowerment & rural resurgence.

Role of Krishi Sakhis in Agricultural Development

Krishi Sakhis are well-positioned to drive rural development. They serve as an important conduit for a number of agricultural initiatives, including the National Mission of Natural Farming (NMNF), BioResource Centres, and the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). Being local to their communities, they understand the nuances of the local language, culture, and agricultural practices. This intimate knowledge permits them to relate better with fellow villagers and farmers. This helps in effectively bridging the gap between advanced agricultural practices and traditional methods.

Union Minister Chouhan highlights that the Prime Minister aims to create three crore 'Lakhpati Didis,' with one crore already achieved. Krishi Sakhis are a crucial element of this initiative, with many trained to support farmers, thereby earning an additional income of 60-80 thousand rupees annually. The certification of Krishi Sakhis as para-extension workers, a process that has already seen over 34,000 out of 70,000 women certified, underscores their importance in agricultural extension services.

Training and Empowerment

Krishi Sakhis receive extensive training in various agricultural practices, equipping them to support and guide fellow farmers. Their roles extend beyond mere agricultural guidance; they are farmers themselves, trusted community resource persons, and connectors between research institutions and grassroots levels. This dual role enhances the dissemination of technology and innovative farming practices.

The Krishi Sakhi program, currently implemented in 12 states during its first phase, aims to harness the innate potential of these women. These states are Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Odisha, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, and Meghalaya. Krishi Sakhis, identified by State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs), are trained to fill gaps in rural agricultural services, rooted firmly in their farming backgrounds and communities.

Impact on Sustainable Farming

Certified Krishi Sakhis become crucial community resources, creating awareness, building farmers' capacities, and acting as liaisons between farmers and various agricultural departments. Their comprehensive knowledge in agroecology, natural resource management, crop diversity, and health and nutritional security positions them as the backbone of sustainable agriculture.

By organizing awareness meetings on natural farming and soil health management, Krishi Sakhis ensure that the benefits of agricultural initiatives reach the grassroots. These efforts are expected to significantly improve the livelihoods of Krishi Sakhis and extend the reach of agricultural programs and schemes.

Conclusion

Krishi Sakhis are not just transforming agriculture; they're sowing the seeds of a brighter future in rural India. Their dedication is reshaping farming practices and empowering entire communities, placing women at the forefront of sustainable development. As they continue to drive this transformation, Krishi Sakhis are not only changing agriculture but also enhancing the socio-economic fabric of rural India.

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