Shankar Bhat Vadya, a farmer from Puttur taluk in Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district, has begun to grow organic crops now. Not only that, he has begun to implement traditional practices from the knowledge he has acquired from… Guess where?

Facebook. Many farmers such as Vadya are now taking advantage of social media sites like Facebook to improvise farming and improve their incomes. In particular, a Facebook group “Hasiru” (which means ‘green’ in Kannada) is attracting the interest of farmers and has over 1,000 members now.

Started by Ramesh Kaintaje, a farmer from Bantwal taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, on April 28, ‘Hasiru’ had only 50-75 members initially.

“I live in a rural area and have a farm. I was basically interested in knowing more about Nature and its diversity. Then I thought, why not start a group to learn more about the green aspects of Nature,” said Kaintaje.

‘Hasiru’ now has members from across the country. The group members have come across over 1,000 plants through their interactions. “The information may be about a fruit, vegetable or any other interesting aspect of Nature. We are seeing 50-100 posts, on an average, every day the last two months,” said the group founder.

Now, Kaintaje and a few like-minded associates have been visiting progressive farmers frequently. They share information on the crops and best practices gained from such visits with group members. “We have met more than 20 farmers in the last two months,” he said.

“I think we already have a collection of 5,000 or more nature pictures, many of which have been taken by the members,” he said.

Narayana Upadhyaya, a post-graduate in horticulture and working in Bangalore, says the group has been documenting the biodiversity in Dakshina Kannada. It has brought to light some little-known crops, vegetables and fruits, through its efforts.

Dinesh Maneer, an engineer whose hobby is photography, says he has come to know of many new nature-related matters — ranging from fruits and insects to farmers and agricultural practices — through the group.

Kaintaje, who moderates this group, does not have broadband Internet connectivity. He attributes the success of achieving 1,000 members to the friends who are trying to expand the group.


(This article was published on October 2, 2012)
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