Home-grown video promotes better farming in rural India

Local facilitation is key to community adoption.

I've written a couple of times here about the Smallbean Citizen Archivist project , which is outfitting students in Africa with digital video cameras and solar-powered notebook computers to help them document their world. I heard about a similar project involving the use of video to share community stories, called Digital Green, in Boston during the EmTech@MIT emerging technologies conference, hosted by publication Technology Review.

Originally conceived during founder Rikin Gandhi's stint with Microsoft Research, India several years ago, the non-profit Digital Green was dreamed up to help with the government's goal of encouraging better farming practices in extremely rural areas. The premise was that the farmers in these areas of the country were more apt to learn from advice that was borne out of their own community, rather than something that was mandated or dictated from on high.

By supplying farmers with pocket video cameras and the means of keeping them charged in the absence of an established electric grid, Digital Green has helped encourage the grassroots production of 586 videos, which have received almost 10 times as many screenings, involving roughly 17,500 farmers. This isn't just some huge agri-video content library, though. There is an interactive component: videos are screened by a local facilitator, to keep it more real. So, this is a margin of social media with face-to-face reinforcement.

The sample I have embedded shows techniques for sowing beans, but the topics are far-ranging.

One could conceive of the Digital Green concept being used in other rural agricultural communities across India. But by using the local facilitators, the organization ensures that the videos are viewed in a context that is specific to every community's unique needs.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com