Is farm broadcasting going waste?

BY sevanti ninan| IN Books | 18/07/2014
When current farm telecasts miss their targets on account of power cuts and wrong scheduling, is a Rs 100 crore farm channel going to help,
asks SEVANTI NINAN. PIX: Farmers in Kalahandi, Odisha, talk about their farm broadcasting needs.

On budget day last week, the finance minister announced a Rs 100 crore allocation to launch a 24 hour channel for farmers, part of a wider package for the revival of agriculture and the augmentation of irrigation. 

The Kisan TV channel dedicated to agriculture and allied sectors is to be launched in this fiscal, ostensibly for disseminating information to farmers on new farming techniques, water conservation, organic farming etc.

As part of a multi-faceted, two-year study on the digitisation of television and public broadcasting, the Hoot has conducted focus group discussions across the country. This series looks at what farmers think about the programmes broadcast for them. It is based on field research in four states —Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, and Odisha. (The study was conducted before the creation of Telangana.)

Encapsulated in the quotes below from farmers are the range of issues that affect them. Whether or not a Rs 100 crore farm channel is the answer can be judged by first taking a look at both the information needs of farmers today, and their responses to what they receive.   

From general satisfaction in Odisha to a more nuanced take on the limitations of farm broadcasts as expressed in Andhra Pradesh, this first part of the series looks at grassroots demand for such a channel. The demand and potential are huge, but power cuts and scheduling issues are a deterrent.  

Cultivators, Village Kanakpur, Kalahandi, Odisha  

Q. …This cultivation you had done…where did you get the information?…

A. …The information we had got from TV…had got from horticulture….from ‘Krishi Vigyan Kendra’…and we had done it mixing the all…it was good….we had also made phone calls to Bhubaneswar asking them about the remedy in the chilli cultivation… 

A. Some time the current failure continues for 3-4 days…so when we want to watch agriculture programme the current is not available…for that reason mostly we can’t watch. 

I’ve seen on Delhi Doordarshan, they are teaching going in to the field by folding their trousers…they are teaching the farmers…in Odisha the officers look like officers…the officers of Delhi are looking like farmers…if you see an officer of Delhi he is a farmer…if we see an officer here he looks like an officer… there is the difference ….regularly I watch Delhi Doordarshan, they are doing very beautiful programmes…I have learned many things from them….about sugarcane cultivation…now I’m cultivating 1 ½  acres of land by following them and getting benefit…


Village Debipalli, Sambalpur, Odisha  

Q. Do you think something better should come than "Krishi Darshan"?  

A. For now all is well...they showed everything for paddy harvesting. 


Village Badabahal, Redhakhole,  Sambalpur, Odisha   

Q. Have you applied anything you learn from TV?   

A. Yes   

Q. For example?  

A. …suppose paddy…adopting SRI method…fish culture…programmes on diary…goatery…mostly on paddy…we didn’t know about SRI method…now we have adopted it…then there is hybrid paddy…in our village almost all are doing line roping… 


Farmers, Bhilai, Chhattisgarh 

“Actually there should be a channel on agriculture and horticulture since 75 per cent of our population is dependent on agriculture.  Today we have a lot many channels but there is none on agriculture.” 

In Chattisgarh, we have only one type of farming, cultivation of rice. Now Mr Chief Minister has been talking about multi cropping but not many people are aware of this. Media can help deliver this message. All the channels including Doordarshan should have a moral responsibility. The thing is if a farmer gets good information on DD, he will leave other channels and watch that.   


Village Kandul, Raipur, Chhattisgarh


In agriculture programme the information is insufficient. The condition of our land is differnt from that TV land.


Rajim village, Chattisgarh 

Q.  What information would you want from TV?   

A. “Whatever schemes are there under panchayat, we should get information about them, like the schemes for pulses and oilseeds.   

A. “How to do farming in less water as the availability of water is decreasing."   

A. “Whatever government benefits are there, they should be available to each farmer.”   


Village Korenda, Bastar, Chhattisgarh 

A. Krishi Darshan we watch in Halbi (a tribal dialect) and in Chhattisgarhi. (On the narrowcasting transmission from Jagalpur).

Q. How do you access that? Don’t you watch TV on DTH?   

A. I pull out the connection and put in the Doordarshan antenna connection.   


Village: Gundampally, Adilabad,  (now in Telangana)

A. We see Saptagiri (Doordarshan’s Telugu transmission) Agriculture News.

A. We see Annadata, Jai Kisan. We need programmes where new technologies are shown, these are very few.   

A. There is nothing on agriculture during the time we watch. It would help us if there was one. We really have little time to watch TV, 7-9 pm only. At 8.30. 


Village Erraguntla, Karimnagar (now in Telangana) 

A. One or two rich farmers regularly watch Annadata, but we are all busy with our cows and buffaloes in the morning and do not find time to watch TV agri programmes.


Village Mylavaram, Krishna, Andhra Pradesh 

Q. Do you get information on TV? 

A. Erratic power supply, timing of programmes is such that  we don’t see agriculture on TV. In any case, farmers come home tired, then only entertainment. 

Q. So how do you get information? 

A. I download from internet. Sometimes, TV and print media portray model farmers – these people also talk about using old methods. 

A. Agri experts here do not come to farms – you have to go there. No information on government subsidies, technology – TV channels – no info on agriculture. Then there is no power also – only 2-5 hours, rest of the time in darkness. 

Q. Annadata – any benefit? 

A. They are good to listen to. But every advice increases costs. Easy to say fly to Delhi, but you need money to do that isn’t it? TV/Internet, cannot teach small farmers. 

A. My advice – any number of channels, TV programmes, people sitting at tables discussing agriculture, all these are useless if rate is not tackled. This is the most important. Also, there is adulteration in products and farmers are being cheated in seeds, fertilisers and pesticides. Nobody talks of losses, quality of output. Only solution – better price.   


Village: Kamavarapukota, West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh 

A.  All channels have Annadata/Annapurna type of programmes. They demonstrate in half acre. These are not reaching properly. Farmer is unable to listen to them as he is at work and he is also not able to implement. 

A. Many schemes of government are also told on the TV. But it is of no use for the farmer. There is a scheme of subsidy for natural manure – we had to run around the agri offices 10 times. Leave our work and go there. I had to give bribes to get and then it is not worth it. 

A. On DD they showed is a special kind of hoe/tiller with a subsidy of Rs 15000. 15000 subsidy, 10000 bribe!    

A. Agricultural officer is busy with politicians and bureaucrats. No help from there. No channel tells us about the long term impacts of fertilization/cropping. No channel tells us about the existence of a subsidy for vermicompost.  

A.  We require a 24 hours agri channel. 

Q. Do you use Saptagiri and other channels for phone in programmes?   

A. Timings of those phone ins not suitable. Need one dedicated channel.   


Bhuj, Kutch, Gujarat  

A. We also watch Doordarshan to access information related to agriculture   

A.  We watch Doordarshan for some informative programs like “Khetikimahiti” drip irrigation.  


(Methodology: 37 focus group discussions were conducted in these four states on a range of issues). 

Part two will look at what Doordarshan offers currently by way of farm programming and the limitations of its farm telecast network. 

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