Picture this: scorching heat, a spade in weather-beaten hands, a drop of sweat slowly on tensed calves weeping into rich compost and a judicious humble mouth talking to the camera. Digital Green is a unique initiative that is upping the ante of agricultural practices by introducing the digital medium to India’s farmers. 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. With Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Ministry of Rural Development as investors, this non-profit organisation has made heads turn and listen, since 2008.
What’s the buzz?
With World Environment Day round the corner, you can meet these farmers this weekend, watch their videos and learn the best of farming practices firsthand. Rikin Gandhi, Chief Executive Officer at Digital Green, tells us more: “Farmer Funda (the event) aims to bridge the gap between urban consumers and experiences of rural India. Digital Green primarily works with farmers and trains them on improved practices in rural India, but these communities are also affected by broader perceptions, specially culture, of society in their interest and confidence to farm.”
With urbanites getting piqued about how to stack their shelves and jars with healthy produce, Gandhi informs, “We are bringing together partnerships that we have in rural communities, like Samaj Pragati Sahayog in Madhya Pradesh, and like organisations and individuals in urban communities to share films that are relevant for both (eg, practices such as composting, mixed cropping) and demonstrating how to produce and cook with local and seasonal foods — essentially, enabling anyone to be their own farmer.”
From farmer to filmmaker
Awestruck with the fact that our ‘backward’ farmers can be on the same page as their ‘modern’ consumers, Gandhi, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate asserts, “The farmers and local community members shoot films themselves.” The organisation taps into the network of NGOs with similar goals of propagating sustainable agricultural practices and trains four-eight individuals from the community in each district as filmmakers to record existing one-to-one demonstrations on video, to share them across the community.
As these videos are screened in villages by community facilitators that use battery-operated pico projectors among women’s self-help groups, we capture data and feedback on the community’s needs and interests,” informs Gandhi, the visionary who once harboured aeronautical dreams. Keeping the diversity of cultures in mind, all videos are shot in local languages and dialects.
You Can Sign Up
Check out their Facebook page as well as play an ubercool game called Wondervillage, another brainchild of theirs.