Atma     Guidelines 

Guidelines of the Programme

"Support to State Extension Programmes for Extension Reforms (ATMA)" is the main scheme to operationalize agricultural extension reforms across the country. Funding support shall be provided to the State for undertaking extension reforms within the broad purview of the Policy Framework for Agriculture Extension (PFAE), complying with its key areas/norms, and shall be operated based on Extension Work Plans prepared by the State. Funds shall be released to the States based on their Extension Work plans developed within the broad framework of the PFAE and areas indicated under the cafeteria of reform oriented activities. The States shall propose the new institutional arrangements, like ATMA, they intend to put in place in the First Work Plan, or even earlier, to be submitted by them to the DAC for approval. This agency will have the responsibility of implementing the extension reforms at district level.

Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) is a district level body which is an autonomous institution with participation of all the key stakeholders involved in agricultural activities for sustainable agricultural development. It has the flexibility to receive funds directly (Government of India/States, Membership fees, beneficiaries contribution etc). ATMA has the main responsibility of all the technology dissemination activities at the district level. It has linkages with all the line departments, research organizations, non-governmental organizations and agencies associated with agricultural development in the district with a substantial representation of farmer organizations. Research and extension units within the district, such as KVKs, ZRSs, Department of Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, Sericulture, Marketing, etc. are constituent members.

ATMA would be supported by a Governing Board (GB) and a Management Committee (MC). Under each of the ATMA, block level Farm Information and Advisory Centers (FIACs) have been created which are operated by a Block Technology Team (BTT) of technical advisors and a Farmer Advisory Committee (FAC), a group exclusively of farmers. Commodity oriented Farmer Interest Groups (FIGs) are promoted at block / village level to make the technology generation / dissemination farmer driven and farmer accountable. In order to provide needed HRD support in innovative areas of extension delivery, a State Agricultural Management and Extension Training Institute (SAMETI) has also been established in the project states.

The ATMA presents model of a decentralized and demand driven extension mechanism operating on the comparative strength of different stakeholders. ATMA provides flexibility to the states to propose institutional framework suited to its own situations. The decentralized institutional framework proposed by the states should also be consistent with Article 243 G of the Constitution.

Strategic Research and Extension Plan (SREP)

One of the first tasks of ATMA is to facilitate the preparation of Strategic Research and Extension Plan (SREP) of the district. The SREP is prepared through participatory methodologies such as Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) involving all the stakeholders and farmers. The SREP contains detailed analysis of all the information on existing farming systems in the district and research extension gaps required to be filled-up. It also prioritizes the research extension strategies within the district. It becomes the basis for development of work plans at block/ district level.

State Extension Work Plan (SEWP)

Based on the research-extension strategies given in the SREPs, block/ district level plans shall be developed by each ATMA. The State Extension Work Plan developed at state level shall contain a consolidated activity-wise plan incorporating all the District Action Plans (DAPs) in the state and state level activities to be carried out with activity-wise budgetary requirement as per the norms prescribed in the cafeteria. It will also indicate all other extension activities that may be undertaken from out of resources provided under any other scheme of the Centre/ State Governments. The DAPs developed under the scheme should be processed consistent with Article 243 ZD of the Constitution.

Cafeteria of Activities

The Cafeteria includes cost norms and ceilings applicable for each activity. Under the Cafeteria, activities to be undertaken at State and District level are categorized separately. The state level activities include support for upgrading state level training institutions such as SAMETI, HRD of extension functionaries, organization of state level Exhibitions and Monitoring and Evaluation of the Scheme.

The district level activities are further categorized in four groups namely, farmer oriented activities, farm information dissemination, research-extension-farmer (R-E-F) linkages and administrative expenses. Farmer oriented activities include development of SREP, mobilization of farmer groups, training/ exposure visit of farmers, field demonstrations, all aimed at empowering the farmers and improving their participation in technology dissemination process. Under the category farm information dissemination, local level agricultural exhibitions, information dissemination through printed materials and development of technology packages in electronic form are covered. The R-E-F linkages based activities include organization of Farmer-Scientist Interaction at local level, organization of Field-days and Kisan Goshties and support for local level researchable issues emanated from the SREP. The administrative expenses under district level activities provide support for running ATMA and block level Farm Information and Advisory Centers. The sum total of all activities specified in the cafeteria is more than the funds likely to be available for State/district level activities. States will have to prioritize their proposed activities based on gaps identified in the SREP.

Source of funds

The resources required for the scheme shall be shared between centre and the state in the ratio of 90:10. The 10% state's share shall consist of cash contribution of the State, beneficiary contribution or the contribution of other non-governmental organizations.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Project activities at district level shall be monitored by the ATMA Governing Board at periodic intervals. At State level, the project shall be monitored through a mechanism similar to those existing in ATMA, i.e., an Inter Departmental Working Group (IDWG) functioning under Chairmanship of Principal Secretary (Agriculture) of the state. The monitoring mechanisms shall include quarterly reports, field inspections, workshops, etc. The Cafeteria specifically provides for third party Monitoring and Evaluation to be organized as a state level activity. The DAC will also organize concurrent Monitoring and Evaluation, including impact evaluation, as needed as part of its scheme "Extension Support to Central Institutions".

Important additional guidelines for implementation of the Scheme
1. KVK should be an active partner to operationalize the ATMA model. There should be no duplication between the activities of KVKs and extension activities to be taken up under the scheme. ICAR should ensure that research priorities of KVK are fully aligned with and sensitive to SREPs at the District level.
2. Macro Management programmes and Centre/State sponsored schemes for agriculture and allied sectors should be integrated with the activities of ATMA by creating desired linkages for effective convergence and delivery.
3. Base line surveys should be undertaken in each ATMA District against which the scheme impact should be evaluated. Baseline survey should be made an integral part of the Strategic Research and Extension Plan (SREP) process. Adequate funds would be provided to ATMAs for baseline surveys.
4. The States may consider associating Panchayati Raj Institutions at all levels of institutional framework under the Scheme.
5. The Secretary of Department of Panchayati Raj of the State Government should be included as a member of IDWG.
6. ATMA should propagate only economically viable and proven technologies since it aims to help resource poor families.
7. ATMA should be part of an integrated extension system consisting of farm schools in the field of farmers, KVKs, agri-clinics and agri-business centres.
8. The ultimate aim of ATMA should be to make small farmers credit worthy (without collateral).