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Just like other school children, students at Swami Vivekanand Vidyalaya at Molgi in Nandurbar district of Maharashtra anxiously wait for the sound of the bell at the end of the day. But they are not eager to rush back home; they are excited because they are going to attend their favourite class—Krushi Shala. Around 250 students from classes 8 to 12 gather in the school playground to know about compost fertiliser, organic pesticide, irrigation, seed treatment, etc. As the name suggests, Krushi Shala, held once a month after school hours, imparts various theoretical and practical lessons in agriculture.
The concept was introduced at a small school of Shinde village in Nasik two years ago by Suyash Charitable Trust, an NGO founded by Yashprabha Group of Companies in 1980, which works for tribals. To prepare young minds for farming as a career, Krushi Shalas are conducted by representatives of Suyash at 74 schools in North Maharashtra, Vidarbha, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Orissa.
"We have been having these classes for our students for the past two years. Since all these children come from families where the sole source of income is agriculture, having knowledge of modern techniques of farming will increase the earnings of their families," says Kailash Khonde, principal of Swami Vivekanand Vidyalaya.
Danyanoba Shrikrishna Shelke, agriculture coordinator at Vikramgadh in district Thane, has been conducting a Krushi Shala at Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram for 45 students staying in the hostel. The boys, from classes 5 to 8, are studying at different schools in Vikramgadh and Vanganpada villages. The lessons given on farming are theoretical and practical. While the former include lectures on the benefits and methods of agriculture, the latter include lessons on seed treatment, water management, making organic manure, use of quality seeds and organic pesticides. "Once the students finish their education, they migrate to big cities. But not all of them end up getting jobs. But they can't even come back to agriculture, as they do not have the know-how. Krushi Shalas make agriculture a back-up option for them," says Shelke.
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