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Friday, October 20, 2017

Focus Group Workshop on 1917 iTEAMS

                                                                             - By Canning S Shabong



Smt.H.Lyngdoh, Director of Horticulture Meghalaya welcoming the dignitaries


INTRODUCTION:

The 1(One) Day Focus Group Workshop on 1917-Integrated Technology Enabled Agri Management System (iTEAMS), is the first workshop held with a section of stakeholders, in order to sensitize, inform and educate about the new program of the Department of Agriculture, which is being prepared for roll out in the State. The workshop invited stakeholders comprising farmer leaders, agro-entrepreneurs, KVK Subject Matter Specialists (SMS), Block Technology Managers (BTM) and Assistant Technology Managers (ATM) of ATMA's and Departmental officers. The Inaugural Function was attended by Commissioner & Secretary Agriculture, Shri. P.S.Kumar, IAS, Joint Secretary Agriculture Department Shri, B.Mawlong, MCS, Director of Horticulture, Smt. H.Lyngdoh, Director of Agriculture (R&T), Smt. B.N War and Officers from Directorate of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry led by Dr. Rijal, Director. The Chief Guest of the workshop is Dr. Mukul M. Sangma, Hon'ble Chief Minister incharge Agriculture & Horticulture etc.

Objectives:  The main objective of the workshop is to understand the views and opinions of the various stakeholders about the 1917 iTEAMS program, inform educate and sensitize the various stakeholders about the goals and objectives of this new initiative which is planned for roll out in a short time by the State Government, using a multi modal and multi sectoral technology platform.

INAUGURAL FUNCTION:

Speaking at the inaugural function during the 1917 iTEAMS Focus Group Workhop, the Chief  Minister of Meghalaya incharge Agriculture & Horticulture, Dr. Mukul M.Sangma reiterated that the 1917- Integrated Technology Enabled Agri Management System (iTEAMS) is a very important initiative of the State Government for the farming community.  In the era of technology driven economy, the CM said that "there is need to ensure that we leverage upon  technology that is available and technology that is evolving, thereby ensuring that farmers have access to the latest scientific information in order to make farming more remunerative. Farming will become remunerative when farmers are able to realise optimal benefit from their land resources.

Further, Agriculture is the "On thing and will remain the On thing so long as this planet exist"  the Chief Minister told the participants of the focus group workshop. When farmers are empowered with knowledge and skills, only then the State will be able to overcome the challenge of food and nutritional security. Farmers are the most important stakeholders of our program and there is a need to involve them and connect them to this program from the very beginning, the CM opined.

iTEAMS is borne out of the fact that there is a huge need for creating a knowledge bank which is accessible to farmers as well as provide comprehensive support system to ensure farmer's produce reaches the nearest markets and ensure last mile connectivity. There is also an urgent need to minimise post harvest losses to optimise farmer's income. This 1917 iTEAMS program is a comprehensive, exhaustive and technology driven initiative, which needs domain specific expertise. The Toll free Number 1917 will ensure on demand evacuation service for farmer's produce from their villages to the nearest markets.  

Through this Program farmers will have comprehensive information about their land, the nutritional status of the soil, the moisture content, the micro climatic condition around their area, the sunshine duration etc. Today with the help of technology platform, we are now in a better position to provide these information to farmers.  

Nations who focused on agriculture are able to come out of poverty level as well as job and unemployment related issues. Farming has to be designed to attract the younger agro entrepreneurs in order to make agriculture more remunerative, attractive and sustainable. We need to create extensive awareness and educate the people about the magnitude of opportunities that agriculture sector can provide, including the quantum of entrepreneurship that can be generated in the agriculture value chain.

We want the World to know that we are creating an enabling environment and we want all friends to partner and participate in this program to show the World that we can grow and prosper, even in the midst of adversity. Agriculture will ultimately determine our future and we need to have the courage to dream big and also empower the farmers to dare to dream big, the CM concluded and set the tone for the workshop to deliberate and brainstorm. 

WORKSHOP:

The Focus Group Discussion was chaired by the Commissioner & Secretary Agriculture. Shri.B.Sohliya, OSD Meghalaya Institute of Enpreneurship gave an overview about the 1917 iTEAMS program through a power point presentation. He explained about the key concept, rationale, the program objectives and the architecture of the program, which is planned for roll out by the department.

A Q&A session followed thereafter where the stakeholders representing each group were given opportunity to share their opinion and raise questions about this program. Some of the stakeholders also give suggestions on integrating Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLE) from Common Service Centres (CSC) into the program. The VLE present also expressed their willingness to join as franchisees. The consensus that emerged from this workshop is that the program, will indeed be very useful for the farmers of the State and can potentially be a game changer in the agriculture development of the State.

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