Saturday, October 10, 2009

Case for a farming channel

Scene-1
Canegrowers association in Mysore and neighbouring districts publish a farm weekly - Raitha Dwani - to share information on farming, notably, cane and paddy. The one-year-old publication plans to increase its subscribers, from 1,000 to 5,000 farmers in six months. Much too modest a goal;and, presumably, not cost effective.

Scene - 2
In neighbouring Tamilnadu they have a website - Chandhai.com - that seeks to bridge buyer-seller gap caused by lack of information on commodity prices, poor marketing, exploitative middle-men and inadequate infrastructure. Online market such as chandhai.com connects buyers and sellers for meaningful trade.

The website provides information pertaining to commodity prices, cropping pattern, seeds and fertiliser availability, agro-based business opportunities, veterinary, organic farming, self employment training, herbal medicines, value addition in farm produce and farm credit.But then the digital divide and illiteracy limits the reach of cyberfarming among farmers in our country. An overwhelming majority that needs such farming guidance stay untouched.

Scene-3
A Tamil channel - Makkal TV - runs a phone-in programme - Uzhavar Sandhai -that covers the same ground, and, given widespread TV viewership and extensive use of cell phone even in rural areas, telefarming of the type adopted by Makkal TV has a reach among illiterate farmers.

At a recent Uzhavar Sandhai programme a farming expert,responding to viewers' questions, came up such info.:

1)Fruit-growers in Cumbum (TN), where they grow grapes on 2,000 plus acres, could come together to put up a juice-making unit. In the absence of such value-addition the farmers ae constrained to sell their produce for Rs.15 a kg.

2)Those planning to grow lemon would do well to visit Gudur (AP) a well known lemon growing area.

3) A retired army officer in Chennai has set up a unit that markets lemon concentrate in small sachets, for making two glasses of juice. The sachets can be retailed through grocery stores, pavement paan-bidi shops, and platform venders in railway stations.

4) With ever-increasing vegetable prices, people in cities take to roof-top kitchen gardening. A variety of vegetables, and spinach, can be grown on roof-top, with two fot deep soil cover. The expert on TV spoke of someone who has grown plantains on roof-top.

During an hour long programme they can't take very many questions from viewers. Besides, Makkal TV runs Uzhavar Sandhai only once a week, Friday. There may be a case for such interactive programming on a daily basis; even for a full-fledged farming channel. We have channels dedicated to healthcare, religious discourse and bhajans. Why not a TV channel to address concerns of farmers - about marketing produce, procurement of seeds, fertiliser, opportunities for agro-business, horticulture, livestock and farm equipment maintenence.

Ad. and sponsorship may be an issue that inhibits private channels. Maybe Doordarshan, which is not ratings driven, could think in terms of a full-fledged farming channel. Apart from serving the interests of farmers, such a krishi channel would get more ad. revenue for DD than the Lok Sabha channel.

2 comments:

Sunita said...

I wish they would start one soon. I watch quite a few of the farming programmes which air early in the morning. Unfortunately they're all in Kannada, Telugu, Marathi ... languages I dont understand. But I still watch them hoping that I can at least learn something by seeing if not by hearing. English or Hindi sub-titles would be fantastic for farmers from other states who still get the programme or channel, thanks to cable TV but who dont understand that particular language. And though politicians may not like to acknowledge this fact, English is still a great leveller for people living all over India (you only have to see the demand for admission to English-medium schools to realise that).

Swarna said...

Just fyi - a few of the good agriculture-based TV programs - 'Haritha Bharatham' on Amrita TV- (daily 5 pm and weekends 7:30 am), 'Krishi Deepam' on Asianet, Asianet News, 'Pon vilayum Bhoomi' on DD Podhigai (6 am and 6 pm weekdays).
Hope the dedicated channel materialises sooner rather than later.