Of Digital Green and Makkal TV

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 -   rikin@digitalgreen.org   Phone: 011-41881037 and 41881038.
Mr V Haridasan -  nvelaanmai@rediffmail.com     Cell: 94441 46807 / 94442 83129 ;  Makkal TV – 044 28261111

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