He sounded American on phone. I would have taken him to be one, had I not read about Rikin Gandhi and his work , of spreading awareness among farmers about improved farm practices through video-clips . Mr Gandhi helms Digital Green , NGO that produces farm community related video shorts, and shows them to village groups on DVD, laptop and rural cable network.
My purpose in phoning Mr Gandhi was to put him on to Mr V Haridasan, Chennai-based farm expert dedicated to value-addition in farm produce at the village level, and promoting organic retail outlets in cities. Mr Haridasan, with hands-on experience in value-addition and in marketing a wide range of value-added organic produce, shares his experience with farmers on TV and in periodic workshop held in Chennai. Farmers, many of them uneducated and from remote parts of rural Tamilnadu have benefited the most from Mr Haridasan’s TV appearance in a Saturday phone-in programme – Uzhavar Santhai – on Makkal TV. Widespread use of cell, notably in rural areas, and access to cable TV network have contributed to a growing awareness, even among unlettered farmers, about the economics of value-addition to farm produce and their marketablity through urban network of organic retails.
My thoughts, on reading about Digital Green, were 1) Mr Gandhi and Mr Haridasan are up the same street, in reaching out to small farmers through digital technology; 2) Low literacy level of our farming community is no constraint in digital communication; and 3) A Gandhi-Haridasan tie-up can help snergize their efforts to optimize farm output and raise rural living standards. It is reckoned that nearly 80 percent of 37,000 farmers, exposed to Digital Green videos, have adopted fresh farm ideas, in contrast to the 10-15 percent success in respect of conventional extension approach in farming.
Mr Gandhi’s NGO has archived over 1,100 video-clips on a range of farm practices – ‘weeding in paddy’,'staking in mango’, preparing vegetable nursery bed, crop sowing practices , SHG micro credit, pulses seed storage, marigold cultivation, tomato transplant, vermi composts. Video clips are in the languages/dialects of the areas where Digital Green has its presence – Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, MP, and Karnataka. Apart from the mainstream regional languages of the relevant states, they have produced video films in Gondi, Bhili, Neemadi, Malvi, Santhali and a host of other tongues.
Tamil is not among them , because Digital Green has, till date, no presence in Tamilnadu. And Mr Haridasan and Makkal TV work mainly in Tamilnadu. This need not be a constriant. In fact, it can be turned into an opportunity, if only Digital Green and Makkal TV adopt a pro-active approach in reaching out to each other, in their efforts to improve the lot of our small farmers .
Digital Green could work with Makkal TV to produce Tamil version of relevant archive footage, and also film fresh video clips in Tamil. Mr Haridasan can draw on the experience/expertise of Mr Gandhi in producing instructive video clips on value-addition to farm produce, on the setting up of organic retail outlet for domestic market, and on exports potential for value-added farm produce.
Contact details : Mr Rikin Gandhi - firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 011-41881037 and 41881038.
Mr V Haridasan - email@example.com Cell: 94441 46807 / 94442 83129 ; Makkal TV – 044 28261111