Technology Transfer in Agriculture
Indian agriculture has undergone many profound changes after Independence. If we check the records, then from 1950-51 to 1975-76 the agricultural output has seen an unprecedented growth rate of 2.6% per annum as compared with the paltry rate of 0.8% that was registered during the first half of the century. It has been agreed by most of the people that the application of modern Science and Technology has played a crucial role in the transformation of agriculture in the irrigated parts of India.
Although many strides had been made in the development of better seeds and Agricultural practices during the 40’s and 50’s, the advent of a Borlaug seed fertilizer Technology during the late 60’s has marked a new stage in agricultural transformation.
The Borlaug seed fertilizer technology which is commonly known as the ‘Green Revolution’ has attracted the attention of several social scientists from all over the world and many Scholars express their serious reservations about the strategy of wholesale transfer of modern technology to the traditional agriculture sector in India.
But on the other hand, many others hailed the advent of new technology and they argue that new technology has helped India come out of stagnation and help in achieving self sufficiency in food, helping the agricultural workers as well.
The agriculture sector started with the domestication of useful plants and it began the process of technology development. Traditional agriculture is an accumulation of farmers’ knowledge and their experiences over many generations and it helped to be in harmony with nature and the farmer, but the increasing human population pressure and the industrial requirements of the agricultural raw materials has distorted this equilibrium and therefore new knowledge and Technology has been the requirement of the hour.
Many technologies have evolved since then but still the equilibrium with nature has never been restored and this has been done because of over exploitation. Some recent concerns have added a new dimension to the technology development and its transfer process. Many efforts are also being made to achieve a new equilibrium with nature, also making the agricultural sector self sustainable and increasingly productive.
When scientific knowledge is put into routine use for the purpose of benefiting mankind it is called ‘Technology‘ and every new technology to find acceptance it must be competitive in today and tomorrow’s environment and it should bring some economic benefits to all the levels of society maintaining eco friendliness, self sustainability of the system and social and cultural compatibility as well.
The development of Technology is an ongoing response to these scientific knowledge requirements of society and it focuses on the target group by keeping in mind the resource base, the socio-cultural factors and some government policies so as to exploit the available opportunities and match these scientific knowledge with the requirements.
For upgrading the existing technology, the generation of new scientific knowledge and a strong and well focused research program is very essential. These research programs should involve both on station and off station research which should complement each other and help in developing the most appropriate Technology developments.
On the basis of the current agricultural context, the development of new technology involves increasing the productivity at the farm level in an eco-friendly and sustainable manner. The farmers and extensionists involved in the process helps in maintaining the focus and relevance of the technology to the real farm situation.
Instead of aiming for Green Revolution, it is important to carry on a stepwise progression for upgrading the technology to achieve sustainable agriculture and it is very important to identify the constraints that affect production at the farm level and then devise appropriate solutions to overcome them.
The farmers should choose the whole package or some selected components of the technology depending on the benefits and for sustainable development they should create a balance between the short term and long term gains.
Technology transfer is a structural process of learning where it requires a careful, well thought out plan and clearly communicable ideas and a range of formal and informal cooperation between the technology developer and the technology recipient.
The new technology is accepted depending upon its ability to bring about the economic benefits at all levels of the society and also maintaining the eco friendliness, self sustainability of the system and social and cultural compatibility.
The technology is used to produce goods and services like a new plant variety, improved breeds of animal and plant species, several new agriculture practices or methods to get a better yield, packaging materials for transport of produce, methods to convert the farming waste into some new high value resources and also preventing environmental pollution, high efficient irrigation system, traditional knowledge for use of medicinal plants and traditional practices for treating some indigenous diseases. These Technologies are aimed at the farm level in an eco friendly and sustainable manner thereby safeguarding the plant and animal lives through proper prophylaxis and Management.
Examples of Technology Transfer in Agriculture
Here are a few examples related to the Technology Transfer in Agriculture. They are:
- New Crop varieties – High yielding or disease resistant strains which are often genetically engineered.
- Manufactured inputs – Fertilisers, Pesticides and other agricultural Chemicals.
- Machinery – Tractors and Cultivators. Green drying equipment and other post harvest technology.
- Management techniques – Computers, financial statements and Tillage practices.
- University Research and Training – Biotechnology and new crop varieties. Training for scientists and farmers.
Channels of Technology Transfer
There are 2 channels through which Agricultural technologies are transferred. They are:
- Public Institutions
- Government research centres
- Extension services
- Direct aid programs
- International Agricultural Research centres
- Private firms
- Multinational Enterprises
- Licensing new production methods
- Sales of technically advanced products
- Joint ventures overseas
The private firms are becoming very important in agricultural technology transfer which are aided by various government policies and market conditions which provide incentives for the private investment in resource and technology transfer. The technology transfer costs become lower when the technology is well understood by the transferring party and the technology is older and there are other firms who use the same technology in the recipient country.
What draws firms into Technology Transfer?
Technology transfer provides these firms the opportunity for profits. If we consider these two factors we can understand it very well.
- Market factors
- The rising demand for a technology based product
- High yielding crop varieties use Chemicals and other manufactured inputs
- Growth in world agricultural demand
- Policy factors
- The government policies encourage business involvement
- Patent systems protect firms’ rights to the innovations and to any profits that result
- Less direct government role in Technology transfer
Technology Transfer Activities
The different activities included in a technology transfer are:
- Securing patent and intellectual property rights
- Accessing the commercial potential of innovations and inventions
- Marketing technologies to potential licensees and partners
- Joining up research with commercialisation principles and strategies
- Assisting with startup creation and development
- Securing funding for Research and startup
- Negotiating licence agreements and partnerships
- Creating a business plan
- Building innovation ecosystems and structures to support and promote Innovation and economic development
- Encouraging innovation and engaging in entrepreneurship to bring a commercial product to market.
Phases of Technology Transfer
The technology transfer activities is broadly splitted in three phases:
which are in turn affected by technological, organisational and environmental factors.
Technology transfer process is divided into 6 steps which are:
- Invention disclosure
- Patent application
- Assessment and Marketing
- Patent licensing
These steps take the innovation forward to a commercial product through market evaluation, intellectual property protection and licensing, and promotion and commercialisation for the marketplace as well.
Technology transfer serves to join research with real world products and it can provide benefits to the society and find solutions to the problems, and at the same time generate profit which can be used to fund further research and development. It is particularly important to small and medium sized enterprises who are able to leverage the outside expertise and Research to develop and create new innovations which are ready for the marketplace.
Technology development and transfer is a dynamic process but it can find affordable, impactful, and safe technology for the ever ready progressive farmers and highly educated entrepreneurs. For increasing the sustainability in agriculture, we need to develop a farm led, market driven, rural business oriented innovation agricultural system where Technology transfer should accelerate via both horizontal as well as vertical modes. If the entrepreneur and a progressive farmer is rightly guided and they are equipped properly with relevant advanced technologies, they can be expected to feed many other families besides their own through Employment generation.