Nitpicking ?

Whatever happened to the old-fashioned  ‘visitors’ ?  ‘Footfalls’ may be ‘cool’ ,  but its usage here  sounds  ‘ smart Alec-y’ .  Besides  ‘visitors’ is a simpler,  shorter word,  and,  presumably,  more easily  understood by traditional readers of The Hindu.

How many are too many ?

accidentSeven dead,  two rescued when  a three-wheeler carrying them plunged into  Tungabhadra  canal near Bellary.  An obvious question that springs to mind is,  how come there were so many travelling in that autorickshaw ?  We don’t get an answer in this 12-para news report.  In fact,  the question remained unasked by the reporter, even in a subsequent report.

Notably,  the media report refers to a gallant rescue of the two women struggling in water.  A passer-by promptly removed his dhoti and held it out as the lifeline that saved the two women from drowning . Rescue workers  later recovered five bodies,  four of which from inside the submerged autorickshaw.  It was so over-crowded that,  perhaps,  they couldn’t get out ,  and tragically went down with the sinking vehicle.   Maybe overcrowding was a factor that caused  the accident.  Maybe the driver lost control of the vehicle  that plunged into the canal. Passengers,  all women,  were farm workers.  The driver was among the dead.

Case for Doordarshan Farming channel

Scene-1

farmweeklyCanegrowers association in Mysore  and  neighbouring  districts  publish a  farm weekly – Raitha Dwani – to share information on farming,  notably,  cane and paddy.  The one-year-old publication plans to increase its subscriber base,  from 1,000 to 5,000 farmers  in six months. Much too modest a goal; and,  presumably, not cost effective either.

Scene-2

farmweekly 002In  neighbouring Tamilnadu  they have a website –  Chandhai.com –  that seeks to bridge buyer-seller gap  caused by  lack of information on commodity prices,  poor marketing,  exploitative middle-men  and inadequate infrastructure.  Online market such as chandhai.com connects buyers and sellers for meaningful trade.

The website provides information pertaining to commodity prices,  cropping pattern,  seeds and fertiliser availability,  agro-based business opportunities,  veterinary,  organic farming,  self employment training,  herbal medicines,  value addition in farm produce and  farm credit. But then the digital divide and illiteracy limits the reach of cyberfarming  among  farmers in  our country.  An overwhelming majority stay untouched by cyberfarming.

Scene-3

farmweekly 005A Tamil channel – Makkal TV –  runs a phone-in programme – Uzhavar Sandhai – that covers the same ground,  and,  given widespread TV viewership and extensive use of cell phone even in rural areas,  telefarming of the type adopted by  Makkal TV  has a reach among illiterate farmers.

At a recent Uzhavar Sandhai programme a  farming expert, responding  to viewers’ questions, came up such info.:

1) Fruit-growers in Cumbum (TN),  where they grow grapes on 2,000 plus acres,  should  come together to put up a  juice-making unit.  In the absence of such value-addition the farmers are constrained  to  sell their grapes  for  Rs.15 a kg .

2) A farmer seeking guidance  on  growing   lemon is advised  to visit Gudur (AP)  where they grow lemon of varied grades on a large scale.

3)  A retired army officer in Chennai has set up a unit that markets lemon concentrate in small sachets, with capacity to make  two glasses of juice.  The sachets have potential for retailing  at grocery stores,  pavement paan-bidi shops,  and platform vendors in railway stations.

4)  With ever-increasing vegetable prices,  people in cities take to roof-top kitchen gardening.  A variety of vegetables,  and spinach, can be grown on roof-top,  with no more than  two feet deep soil cover.  The expert on TV spoke of someone who has grown even  plantains on roof-top.

During an hour long programme  they can’t take very many questions  from viewers.  Besides, Makkal TV runs Uzhavar Sandhai only once a week,  Friday.  There may be a case for such interactive  programming on a daily basis;  even for a full-fledged farming channel.  We have channels dedicated to healthcare,  religious discourse and bhajans.  Why not a TV channel to address concerns of farmers –  about marketing their produce,  procurement of seeds, fertiliser, opportunities for agro-business,  horticulture,  livestock and farm equipment maintenence?

Ad. and sponsorship may be  inhibiting factors for  private channels.  Doordarshan, which apparently has no such concerns and is  not dirven only by ratings  coud think in terms of  a full-fledged channel for farmers.  A krishi channel  would get more ad. revenue for DD than the  Lok Sabha channel.