The World is Flat

Thomas L. Friedman believes that technology is one of the reasons for flattening of the World, allowing the flow of communication and information from one part of the world to the rest. I witnessed this for myself during my visits to Khagaria district in Bihar.

In Bihar, we are working in partnership with Bihar Rural Livelihood Promotion Society (BRLPS) in a total of 18 districts , integrating our video-enabled approach of knowledge building and awareness creation among the rural communities in self-help groups on themes like livelihood, health and nutrition using the platform created by BRLPS functionaries.Through community-sourced videos, villagers in these districts learn and adopt new methods like system of rice intensification (SRI) and system of wheat intensification (SWI), seed treatment, poultry, dairy, nutrition garden etc. practiced in other villages or adjoining districts like Nalanda, Purnea, and Gaya. These videos are hugely popular and accepted by the community members as these are in the local dialect, feature local members as actors, showcase local practices and are produced and screened by a team comprising community members trained on video production and dissemination.

I was particularly happy to see the response of the villagers of Bhutauli Malpa village. They were very excited to take us to their field and show the practices that they have adopted after watching the videos. I met Anamika Devi, who has watched videos on seed treatment for different vegetables, including okra (ladies’ fingers). She says that, I like to watch the videos shown by Rita Didi. I get to learn new practices from the videos. She has also adopted the practices of SRI and SWI shown in the videos.

Brajkishore Prasad, master resource person who observes the way video screenings are facilitated by village resource persons (VRPs) and verifies that the farmers have adopted the practices featured as reported by the VRPs says, Didis (women self-help group members) who watch the videos now want the shoot to take place in their fields so that they can feature as actors in the videos.

Satibhama Devi, Usha Devi, Nirmala Devi and Bina Devi have fields close to each other. They watch the videos together, share their opinions and adopt the practices. Nirmala Devi says that, When we watch a video, it remains in our mind for a long time, especially since we watch it together.

It is interesting to know that these community members relate closely with the actors/facilitators in the video. They easily grasp the new techniques shown in the videos. We have also observed while interacting with the VRPs that they are pretty confident in transferring the knowledge and technology to the community members through videos.

Technology is playing a vital role in boosting the extension services, maximizing their reach and motivating the farmers to adopt new practices. These videos also present opportunities for the community members to explore and showcase their talent and creativity in directing, acting in and screening the videos, which leads to increased respect within their local community. The community members tell me, watching the videos involve two sensory organs, eyes and ears, and therefore the retention of messages is more among them than those who are informed of new techniques orally as in the traditional extension method.

The pocket-sized pico projector which beams the short videos is quietly flattening the world, one video at a time.

Photographs of some of the community members I interacted with in Khagaria district, Bihar

Skilling new teams and building new partnerships

Text and photos contributed by Ajinkya Deshmukh, Program Manager


The National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) is an ambitious flagship programme of the Government of India both in terms of its scale and intent. It aims to reduce poverty and increase gainful employment across millions of rural households in India within this decade. A critical piece in the success of an operation of this scale has been human resources. The NRLM has laid strong emphasis on building local capacities of actors to help them implement the programme. Since 2011, digitalGREEN has played a small, yet significant role in skilling various stakeholders such as community members, partner staff in this process.

Case in point: Just last week, I was in Jaipur to help kick-off our partnership with the Rajasthan Grameen Aajeevika Vikas Parishad (RGAVP) the Rajasthan state rural livelihood mission. It was remarkable to see how various state agencies such as RGAVP and erstwhile Andhra Pradesh’s Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) came together to orchestrate NRLM’s mandate. One of the biggest challenges in knowledge-based interventions, such as the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices, is the sheer number of potential audiences.

While SERP helped by sending in its seasoned Community Resource Persons (CRPs) to train local CRPs in Rajasthan, Digital Green conducted a five-day skill development training workshop in video documentation and editing for the field-level CRPs from the districts of Banswara and Tonk. To make the most of this visit, RGAVP graciously hosted a Himachal Pradesh team from the MKSP agency CORD.

By day three of the training workshop, equipped with the skills to script and shoot videos, the CRPs visited a village in Tonk where they shot two videos – one on the making of the natural fertilizer ghanajeevamrit, and another on the construction of a compost pit for organic manure. Pleasantly, we had peacocks for company while shooting these videos!

With an initial plan to reach 40 villages across the two districts through these videos, we wrapped up the training workshop with high hopes for this new partnership. Over the course of the next year, RGAVP and digitalGREEN will use the audio-visual medium to enhance the skills of CRPs and women from self-help group on topics of agriculture, livestock, and alternate means of livelihoods.