Gomeshri Munda is a seemingly ordinary farmer. His village, Ulatu, is a remote village in Namkum block of Ranchi district in Jharkhand. It is picturesque, far from the crowd and nestled in a verdant and mountainous setting. Most of the villagers are low-literate smallholder farmers. Nothing is taken for granted in Ulatu. Electricity, rain, water, life. People carry on with the humdrum of their daily lives, unaffected by the digital revolution of urban cities. A smart phone is a rarity here. And so is a well-informed farmer. “It is difficult to know when it will rain. A look up at the sky, with a hand to the forehead and making a guess is as close as it gets. If you are right, your crop survives. If not, it’s fate.” But Gomeshri is brewing change here.
Triggering change, one video at a time
In 2007, Gomeshri was struck by the desire to help the women in Ulatu, by forming self-help groups for women. He was the bookkeeper for these groups, a role he continues to play. He noticed that most of them struggled to make enough income since they were illiterate and knew little about best practices in farming. Realizing the need for “doing by seeing” approach, he got in touch with Digital Green, a NGO that produces videos about best practices for agriculture, livelihood and health using small, inexpensive video screen equipment.Gomeshri was trained to disseminate best practices through videos to self-help groups. Today, Gomeshri screens videos to several women's self-help groups in Ulatu. Through these videos, he tells them stories of how they can grow the best crops, improve their health, use organic manure, and everything else they need to know about farming. Many of these practices get adopted, in a testament to the impact of the video-enabled behavioural change.
Gomeshri’s dream is to see his community move out of poverty and for his village to be as developed as an urban area, in terms of infrastructure and education. “None of the women in our village have attended school. But name a crop and I can tell you how much urea and DAP one should use. I learnt how to make organic compost and pesticides through videos and now I train others.”, beams Jedauli Devi, a mother of five.
How You Can HelpThis project aims to make these informational videos accessible to 5000 women farmers from 100 villages. The farmers will have access to timely and accurate information on locally relevant best practices to improve their yield. By empowering women to train others in their communities, this initiative will become self-sustaining in a few years.
In today's age of a digital revolution, anything and everything we need is available at our fingertips. But what about those people who need it the most and don't have access to it? There are some exceptional individuals like Gomeshri who are bringing about a revolution in parts of rural India. It is necessary that we maintain this spark and bring out a change in the lives of our farmers. You can help in this cause too.
A donation of Rs 2,500 will train 2 women and help them create and share videos for a year. Rs 12,500 will procure one set of video screening equipment that can cover 50 farmers. Every donation made by you, is matched by Mahindra and Mahindra, creating double the impact.