Need of the hour: Assamese language training videos on agroecology and organic farming
Emphasising the relevance of the Assamese language versions of ‘Access Agriculture’ training videos on agroecology and organic farming for the smallholder farmers of Assam state in northeastern India, Dhirendra Nath Kalita, Head of Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) of Kamrup district, called it the “the need of the hour.”
Dr. Kalita was invited as a distinguished guest to give his remarks during the review session of a Video Translation Workshop, which was organised by Access Agriculture, 1-3 November, in Guwahati, Assam, as part of the ‘Support to Agroecological Transformation Processes in India’ (SuATI) project.
Jyoti Bikash Nath, Senior Specialist for Communications and Extension of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), based in Guwahati, who was also one of the guest-reviewers, congratulated the participants for their excellent work and gave a few suggestions for improvement.
The SuATI project is being implemented in India by the German development agency, GIZ, in close collaboration with governmental and nongovernmental partners. The main objective of the project is to strengthen agroecological transformation processes of agricultural and food systems in India, with focus on the states of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Assam.
With over 2 million small and marginal farm families, Assam is one of the most vulnerable states to climate change in the Indian Himalayan region. Equipping these farmers with reliable, relevant knowledge in their own language using videos, which can help them retain information more effectively is critical, so that they can produce and market food in a sustainable manner while adapting to climate change risks.
High-quality training videos on organic and ecological farming practices, food processing, marketing and rural entrepreneurship are freely available on Access Agriculture (www.accessagriculture.org) platform, which hosts over 250 videos in more than 100 international and local languages.
As part of the SuATI project, 70 most relevant videos from this collection have been selected by Assamese stakeholders for translation into Assamese to help local farmers. Access Agriculture is building capacities for the translation, distribution and use of the videos to support the SuATI project.
The 3-day Video Translation Workshop included hands-on sessions on translation of video scripts into Assamese using farmer-friendly terminology, audio-recording, sound-proofing techniques and audio editing.
The participants worked on four videos relating to soil fertility management, drip irrigation, community seed banks and a participatory guarantee system. The Assamese versions of these four videos are now available and ready for uploading on Access Agriculture platform.
Pradipta Kishor Chand, Agriculture Advisor, and Manoshi Chakrovorty, Junior Agriculture Advisor, GIZ-SuATI in Assam, applauded the participants’ accomplishments, observing that the videos will be an asset for the state. They expressed their gratitude and appreciation to Access Agriculture.
“For me, this is really the agroecological transformation process in action and the participants are like the Good Samaritan as they are generously contributing their time and expertise to help our farmers,” observed Mr Chand. He hoped that the collaboration would continue in future to document success stories on the agroecological transformation process.
The participants, representing researchers, translators, communicators and media professionals, were selected from Assam based on their expertise and skillset. Working in teams, they showed keen interest in learning new skills and expressed their commitment to follow the strict quality standards of Access Agriculture videos.
At the closing ceremony which included the award of certificates, the participants conveyed their appreciation to GIZ and Access Agriculture for giving them this wonderful opportunity to enhance their multimedia skills and knowledge of eco-friendly agriculture.
“The low-cost technology shown in the videos is very appropriate for smallholder farmers in Assam,” commented Khagendra Sarmah, Retd. Deputy Director of Agriculture, Government of Assam, who participated in the workshop. “I am extremely happy to be associated with this programme which will be valuable for our farmers.”
Mr Sarmah provided strong support to the workshop teams, serving as subject matter specialist. In addition to his long experience in leadership positions in agriculture and horticulture departments, he has been actively involved in mass media extension support and in Krishi Darshan, an Indian television programme that disseminates agricultural information to farming communities.
The comments from the other experienced and qualified participants included praises for the priority given to quality, attention to detail and the conversational language used to explain scientific principles in the videos and also the value of teamwork for quality video output. They were especially appreciative of the constant support from the Access Agriculture resource personnel: Atul Pagar, Kevin Mutonga (who assisted online) and R Raman.
“You are the real superstars, because for the first time we now have Assamese language videos at Access Agriculture thanks to you,” said Phil Malone, Access Agriculture Co-founder, who joined the workshop online at the closing ceremony of the workshop. “We must always remember that we are doing this as a service to farmers who work in remote parts of India, building on their knowledge, so that agroecology can be a real success.”
He encouraged the participants to continue with the same enthusiasm and thanked the experts for their valuable feedback. He recognised the special help offered by Dr. Sangeeta Kakoty, Deputy Director, Electronic Media Production Centre (EMPC) & Station Manager, Jnan Taranga Community Radio, Krishna Kanta Handiqui State Open University, Guwahati, Assam, who recommended many of the participants for the workshop and is eager to promote the videos through the community radio programmes.
Phil concluded by expressing heartfelt thanks to GIZ partners for their strong support to the SuATI project and complimented the organisers for the successful workshop. This marks the beginning of a long-term partnership for the benefit of smallholder farmers.