Agriculture is crucial to human civilization. If not for the farmers who toil, we would be starving. It is imperative for us to understand that agriculture is sensitive to variations in climatic conditions and that farmers often have to the face the challenges of increasing agricultural output while adapting to external changes.
Many acres of fields are witness to agricultural innovations initiated by our farmers. The problem is: how do we get ideas from Farmer A who is using a technique successfully, to Farmer B, who wants to do the same, but can’t afford experimenting with untested techniques?
Digital Green has pioneered a system to raise the livelihoods of smallholder farmers across the developing world through the targeted production and dissemination of agricultural information via participatory video and mediated instruction through grassroots-level partnerships. Currently prevalent in Karnataka, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa, this unique social organisation is reaching out to at least 60,000 farmers and 900 villages.
The unique components of Digital Green are: (1) a participatory process for content production, (2) a locally generated digital video database, (3) human-mediated instruction for dissemination and training, and (4) regimented sequencing to initiate a new community.
The videos can be found online. DVDs are sent to various villages. DVDs are received by local village mediators who engage the community by pausing and rewinding the videos, fielding questions, and encouraging group participation. Unlike broadcast programs or standalone kiosks, the mediators take the shared TV and DVD players to farmers at their choice time and place and serve as a feedback mechanism for farmers.
In the cities, Digital Green is organising workshops where farmers can discuss their practices and teach city-dwellers urban farming. “We are aiming to connect urban consumers with the people and experiences of rural India,” says Rikin Gandhi, CEO of Digital Green
“The farming community, their long-term interest and their confidence, are affected by the broader perceptions and culture of our society. Amid a nascent but growing movement toward sustainable and local foods in cities, it makes sense to screen films that are relevant to and will connect the two groups — essentially sending out the message that anyone can be their own farmer.”