From plough to pen:agriculturists promote farm journalism

BY Frederick Noronha| IN Media Practice | 28/03/2002
From plough to pen:agriculturists promote farm journalism

From plough to pen:agriculturists promote farm journalism
From Frederick Noronha

Farmers have a lot to say, but simply don¿t get a chance to say it. This is the experience of an organisation working in nearby rural North Karnataka, trying to give a voice to those working in the fields.

CAAM, or the Centre for Alternative Agricultural Media, was set up in December 2000, and since then has been working to promote alternative efforts in agricultural communication and help the farmers¿ cause, "using communication as the main tool".

Farmers have jumped on the bandwagon, and the experiment has grown. "It grew swiftly in various dimensions it has caught the attention of scores of personalities in the field," Dharwad-based CAAM director Shivaram Pailour told this correspondent, on marking its first anniversary. Its efforts have won it praise from even distant US, and farmers have found their initiatives to write on relevant subjects getting a boost. CAAM, as part of its venture, currently runs a website (www.farmedia.org).

To mark its first year, this network held a two-day workshop titled ¿giving a pen the to farmers hand¿. This workshop was held on December 3 in Hulakoti near Gadag. Gadag is a district headquarters near the north Karnataka district of Dharwad, just outside the western coastal state of Goa. Farmer-journalist Shree Padre, development journalists and organic farmers have been sharing ideas with farmers in this largely rural northern Karnataka hinterland, and explaining concepts of ¿farm writing¿.

To fill in the gap for much needed agri-related information, over the past one year, the centre released some 19 e-bulletins written by analysts and development journalists. These bulletins have covered farm and environment related issues and developments in the farm policies.

"CAAM¿s library has a fair collection of books and journals on farm and environment related topics. This has helped quite a good number of students and researchers who are interested on the subject," says Pailoor.

To focus on this emerging concept as a theory, the network started farm journalism workshops in colleges and universities. CAAM says it is "targeting" mass communication and agricultural extension students for this. This network also played an active role in drawing nationwide attention to the ¿endosulfan tragedy¿ in certain districts of Kerala. Pesticides aerially-sprayed on cashew crop in the region are suspected to be behind health problems in some villages along the Karnataka-Kerala border, though pesticide companies deny the charge.

This network was recently selected by the Earth Island Institute of America for the Positive Notes award. Pailoor feels the work suggests "a promising future in creating issue-based awareness through Internet". Its plans include adding a section in the local Kannada language, to help local farmers and vernacular press to access information easily. It is also planning to provide a section for organic farmers to publicise their produce.

Recently, two local farm writers were presented awards, to strengthen "need based, farmer-friendly journalism" by encouraging farmers to take up writing based on their experience.

 

 

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