Agriculture Information Service

Agriculture Information Service (AIS) a communication department under the Ministry of Agriculture, located at Khamarbari, Farmgate, dhaka. Activities related to agricultural information and communication started with the establishment of the Agriculture Information Service in 1961. The main objectives of AIS are to: (i) produce training aids, and provide information and educational materials for field staff and farmers in support of improved techniques and better methods of cultivation; (ii) create agricultural literature on site specific information in English and Bengali; (iii) establish distribution channels for the produced materials of communication throughout the country; (vi) train field staff in use of information materials; and (v) motivate rural people for formation of Chasi (farmers') clubs, Jele (fishermen's) clubs, etc.

Organisational structure and management The director is the administrative, financial and operative head of the organisation. He is responsible for overall management and planning of the organisation, and is supported by the Chief Information Officer, the Deputy Director (mass communications), and some specialists. At present AIS has seven regional offices stationed in chittagong, sylhet, mymensingh, rangpur, rajshahi, pabna and khulna. A total of 189 personnel, including 16 officers, now work for this organisation.

Agriculture Information Service underwent certain changes in 1985 on the basis of a decision of the cabinet division. As a result, it was bifurcated and one-third of its total manpower and equipment was transferred to the Ministry of livestock and fisheries. At present, AIS serves about 15 organisations, including the Department of Agricultural Extension, different agricultural research institutes, the Forest Department, the Department of Agricultural Marketing, the soil resources development institute, bangladesh agricultural development corporation (BADC), and associate organisations under the Ministry of Agriculture. Besides, Agricultural Information Service also provides information to non government organisations (NGOs) associated with agricultural development.

Major functions/programmes The Agriculture Information Service disseminates information primarily to extension workers and then to farmers by way of package information through different media. Its major functions include publication of a monthly magazine (Krishi Katha) and extension newsletter (Samprosaron Barta) in Bengali pertaining to important crops with particular emphasis on modern technologies; production of educational and information materials; dissemination of information through farm broadcasting programmes such as Mati-o-Manus; and production of documentary films, filmstrips, slides, video film, training aids, etc. AIS also organizes and conducts short intensive information communication training programmes and workshops at national and regional levels. To provide better agriculture information and communication services, a new project entitled 'Strengthening of Agriculture Information Service (SAIS)'; is now under way at comilla, barisal, rangamati, and Rajshahi. The major objective of the project is to improve the socio-economic status of rural farm families, including attaining self-sufficiency in food within June 2002 by providing agrotechnology based media support to AIS. [Md. Shahidul Islam and Fazlul Haque Rikabder]