The State government has firmed up plans for giving a boost to the agricultural activities in the State through, what it claimed, a well organised agriculture extension network with qualified multi-purpose extension system.
Accordingly, the government has decided to appoint qualified Multi-Purpose Extension Officers numbering 6,354, one each for every 1,000 hectares of the net cropped area of 63.54 lakh hectares on contract basis. In addition, Rythu Mithra Groups, one each for every 100 hectares, would be formed with objective of facilitating extension reach to farming community, address the immediate needs of farmers in case of adverse seasonal conditions and sensitise farmers on the steps needed to enhance productivity.
The government’s order comes in the light of abolition of the Adarsha Rythu, model farmers scheme, initiated by the then Chief Minister late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy that faced criticism of corruption and nepotism.
The MPEOs would be paid a consolidated honorarium of Rs. 8,000 a month and preference would be given to those with B.Sc (Ag) and B.Sc (Hort) followed by agriculture polytechnic diploma holders (recognised by the ANGRAU) and science graduates with specialisation in Botany.
The selection would be made on the basis of merit (80 per cent) and interview (20 per cent).
The government had issued a series of guidelines relating to the functioning of the MPEOs. The MPEOs should accordingly reside in the cluster headquarters as decided by the district administration and sensitise farmers on different issues related to crops. They should assist the extension functionaries in communicating needy information to farming community with regard to different departmental schemes and latest/improved technologies besides maintaining the record of the acreage under his/her area.