Young entrepreneur brings smart farmer learning to Bihar, India
When 27-year old Neeraj Kumar heard about the Access Agriculture “Young Entrepreneur Challenge Fund 2019” announcement, he was excited to learn that winners would receive a Digisoft portable smart projector. Neeraj is co-founder of Khetee, an NGO based in Durdih village in Bihar, a state in eastern India.
What impressed him most was that the projector contained the entire Access Agriculture library of over 200 videos on agroecology and rural entrepreneurship in more than 80 international and local languages. Moreover, the projector comes with a battery and a portable solar panel, so videos can be shown off grid and without internet to remote rural communities.
Neeraj’s organisation ‘Khetee’ – which means ‘farming’ in Hindi language – focuses on community development and training programmes for farmers and rural community. It has introduced a farmer-focused intervention model to make farming sustainable and profitable in rural Bihar by promoting ecological agroforestry.
“Many of our farmers are not aware of sustainable farming practices that improve productivity and profit, while reducing environmental damage,” explained Neeraj. “So, we organise meetings and training programmes on natural farming and organic manure application, among others. We were keen to have the smart projector and Access Agriculture videos to make our training programmes more relevant and meaningful.”
Access Agriculture is a world-leading organisation for quality agricultural training videos in local languages, working across the Global South. Its video-learning approach has enabled over 60 million smallholders to learn about agroecological principles and rural entrepreneurship, leading to improved rural livelihoods and sustainable food systems.
The Access Agriculture Young Entrepreneur Challenge Fund requested young people to propose innovative ideas to make a business around the dissemination of agricultural videos. Neeraj was one of the six inspiring and promising young entrepreneurs, who won and received a Digisoft smart projector in August 2019.
“As soon as we received the smart projector, our team and volunteers took it to the communities in and around Durdih village, enriching our training programmes with Access Agriculture videos,” said Neeraj. “Here, people understand Hindi or some dialects of Hindi. So, we mostly play videos available in Hindi. However, based on the demand of community farmers, relevant videos available in other languages are also played.”
The videos are helping the rural communities to discover various farming techniques and methods which are more productive, sustainable and ecological, leading to an improvement of their skills and competence in agricultural production and an increase in their revenues.
“They are a great resource for farmers in our area. For instance, we have learnt step by step how to grow paddy with less water and manage weeds more easily,” said one farmer. “It is easy when we learn from smallholder farmers from other places. The videos also help us correct some of our mistakes.”
According to Neeraj, the Access Agriculture videos on mulching, vermicompost, conservation agriculture, good microbes for plants and soil, seed preservation and storage, floating vegetable gardens, and livestock have greatly helped the rural communities, especially marginalized youth and women farmers.
Praising the smart projector and the video library that comes with it, he said, “It is a kind of video dictionary, farmers can understand, choose for themselves what to learn and take the best out of it.”
Related video : Entrepreneurs for Rural Access - India https://agtube.org/en/content/entrepreneurs-rural-access-india
Acknowledgement: The first batch of winning young entrepreneurs were supported with the monetary reward received for the Prize D4D, a biennial initiative of the Belgian Directorate-General for Development Cooperation in collaboration with the Africa Museum.