Management Agencies (ATMAs)
In order to address the key constrains faced by extension system in the country with respect to reducing capacity of public extension services, its lack of decentralized and demand driven focus, the innovations in Technology Dissemination component of the National Agricultural Technology Project(NATP) was in seven states in the country namely, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra and Punjab through four project districts in each state. This component aimed at pilot testing new institutional arrangements for technology dissemination at district level and below in order to move towards an integrated extension delivery. The project process involved adopting bottom up planning procedures for setting the research and extension agency in order too make the technology dissemination farmer driven and farmer accountable. The extension delivery was oriented towards group approach catering to the location specific requirement of the farmers. Gender concerns have been given adequate emphasis under the project.
To organized the above reform initiatives under ITD-NATP an Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) has been established in each district as an autonomous institution providing flexible working environment involving all the stakeholders in project planning and implementation.
The ATMA is a unique district level institution, which caters to activities in agriculture and allied departments adopting a Farming System Approach. It can receive funds directly (Government of India/States, Membership fees, beneficiaries contribution etc). Local research and extension priorities are set through Strategic Research and Extension Plants (SREPs) which are developed by using participatory methodologies such as Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA). ATMA is be supported by a Governing Body (GB) and a Management Committee (MC). The programmes and procedures concerning district wise R-E activities are determined by ATMA, GB, and implemented by its MC
In order to manage programme implementation at block level and below, ATMA has established a Farm Information and Advisory Centre (FIAC) at each block in the district. In effect the FIACs act as extension planning and operational arm of ATMA
. These are supported by two groups; one, a group of technical officers at block derived from different functional areas termed as blocked Technology Team (BTT), whereas, the others is a Farmers Advisory Committee (FAC) which is a body exclusively of farmers. While BTT develops the Block Action Plan (BAPs) in light of the SREP and is responsible for its implementation, the FAC plays a more proactive role by scrutinizing, improving and approving BAPs, before these are referred to the ATMA GB for its final approval.
Commodity oriented Farmer Interest Groups (FIGs) are promoted at block/village level to make the technology generation/dissemination farmer driven and farmer accountable. These Village level FIGs are ultimately federated at block/district level and represented in FACs and GB. In order to address the extension needs of these groups, ATMA has established close linkage with various players operating
at cutting edge level viz. public private, NGOs, Para extension workers, input dealers etc. In order to provide needed HRD support in innovative areas of extension delivery a State Agricultural Management and Extension Training Institute (SAMETI) has been established either by strengthening one of the existing apex training institute in the state or by creating a new SAMETI in a State Agricultural University (SAU).
Project activities, at state level are closely monitored by an Inter Departmental Working Group (IDWG) functioning under Chairmanship of APC or Secretary (Agriculture) of the state. A Project Implementation Cell (PIC) created at the State Headquarter level proves support to the IDWG.