India's Farming Women Use Cameras to Share Lessons

A nonprofit with Microsoft roots helps farmers share lessons
A videographer watches as farmers demonstrate techniques in Uttar Pradesh Courtesy Ayushi Singh/Digital Green

Kavita Devi has spent 50 years farming the way her elders taught her. Until recently, that meant working other people’s land in the northeastern Indian village of Gosaibigha in exchange for 10 pounds of rice once a season. But since July, twice a month she’s been joining about 30 women neighbors in saris who file into a makeshift movie theater in a buffalo shed, where they watch videos from a battery-powered, handheld projector shown on a fuzzy brown blanket hung on a wall. In the videos, which run for 8 to 10 minutes, women from nearby villages demonstrate ways to boost rice yield by spacing the seedlings farther apart and using compost instead of fertilizer. “They look very successful,” Devi says later. “I would like to be one of them.” Since July she’s been leasing a small patch to plant her own crops.

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