These YouTube kisans make farming easy
Young farmers are racking up lakhs of views through their videos that share gyan on everything from fertilisers to farm equipment repair.
Six months ago, Santosh Jadhav, a farmer from Sangli, Maharashtra, posted a video of a rain pipe irrigation system which is ideal for vegetables. With more than 5 lakh views so far, the video has generated more than 200 comments from other farmers asking for more details. How much does it cost? Is there a cheaper option? Won’t the pipe burst if a cow or buffalo steps on it?
Videos on farming made by young, social media-savvy kisans are clocking lakhs of views and subscribers on YouTube. They have become the Krishi Darshan of digital age, sharing gyaan on khaad (fertilizer) and kharpatvar (weeds). Shot on mobile phones and cameras, most of these videos are wellproduced, well-presented and tightly edited.
Jadhav, 26, started his farming channel Indian Farmer in 2018 after friends said they liked the way he explained complex farming techniques in a simple and engaging manner. “The first video I shot was on a Samsung Galaxy J7 Max while standing in a lush sugarcane field,” Jadhav remembers. As his channel subscribers grew — 2 lakh-plus is the latest count — Jadhav bought a Canon DSLR camera. A friend helps him with shooting and editing.
“I try to focus on farm technology and government schemes and subsidies,” says Jadhav, a second generation farmer who is a natural in front of the camera. Dressed in track pants and tees with a scarf thrown around his neck, a confident Jadhav shows ways to fix a leaky pipe, kill weeds and some DIY mechanical quick-fixes.For example, how an old tractor was upcycled into a 3-in-1 jugaad that can till the soil, sow the seeds and remove weeds.
MP Farmer's videos get him foreign trip
In July last year, farmer Nandkishor Dhakad got his first chance to travel abroad for 10 days on the invitation of a Nigerian papaya farmer. The Nigerian farmer had seen a YouTube video uploaded by Dhakad, who lives in Bhimsukh village in Neemach district in Madhya Pradesh, on the ‘five secrets of papaya farming’. “He called me and said the papayas he grows remain small and the soil lacked nutrition. I showed him the right amount of water to give to papaya plants and also weed control. Later, he called me to say that the fruit size is bigger now and he got a good harvest,” says Dhakad, 28, who runs Desi Kheti channel and has 1.5 lakh subscribers.
A Class XII passout, Dhakad launched his channel in November 2017, after he learnt bee farming by watching YouTube videos. “I thought I too should give it a try,” he says. His videos inform farmers about efficient alternatives to traditional crops. “For example, in summer when the water is less, farmers can grow tilli (black sesame) instead of the traditional moongphali (groundnut). Tilli needs less water, is resistant to disease and fetches Rs 10,000 for a quintal while moongphali fetches Rs 4,000,” says Dhakhad, who shoots videos on his One Plus Five phone and edits them using a free software.
For Indian farmers, these videos are not only a rich source of information and helpful hacks, they also help in building a community of farmers. “More than 50% of India’s workforce is employed in agriculture but most of them are illiterate. So we have each other to fall back on, to educate,” says Jadhav.
Learning mushroom farming from videos
It’s not just farmers but also wannabe farmers who are watching these videos. Gitanjali Sahu, 25, from Raipur, Chhattisgarh picked up the skills required for mushroom farming online and is now training other women in her village, Biroda. A masters in economics Sahu took to farming because she couldn’t find a job. “I used to ask people in my village about how to grow mushrooms but nobody knew about it.” Sahu then turned to an Internet Saathi, as rural women who are part of a digital literacy programme run by Google in association with Tata Trust are called. Today, she gets 3-4kg mushrooms from each of her 20 beds, and sells the produce at Rs 200/kg in market.
Darshan Singh, who runs the channel Farming Leader (with 18 lakh subscribers), says he gets a lot of calls and queries from people who want to learn to grow food. “These are mostly from people with jobs in cities. But we tell them the reality of farming — that it’s not easy and needs lot of patience,” says Singh, 27, who after shooting 470 videos, is now going to start a training centre for aspiring farmers next month.