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

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