Jeevika: Rural Folks Learn to Earn – Dr N Vijayalakshmi

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Dr N Vijayalakshmi,  Chief Executive Officer, Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society (Jeevika), Government of Bihar

A World Bank-aided programme to promote livelihood activities, ‘Jeevika’ uses videos to bring about a positive change in the lives of the rural masses, writes Dr N Vijayalakshmi, Chief Executive Officer, Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society (Jeevika), Government of Bihar

The Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society (BRLPS), popularly known as ‘Jeevika’, is an initiative of the Government of Bihar, started with the support from the World Bank. It has been designated as the State Rural livelihoods Mission to cater to the activities of livelihoods promotion, including formation and nurturing of quality community institutions, in the State of Bihar under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission. Jeevika is now working in all 534 Blocks of Bihar with manpower strength of more than 6,000 employees stationed at Village, Panchayat, Block, District and State levels. It has formed more than 3 lakh Self-help Groups (SHGs) with 36 lakh members and more than 1.5 crore families under its fold.

Jeevika works with the poorest of the poor in rural areas to bring about a positive change in their lives. The objective of the institution is to capacitate the rural poor, create livelihoods and enhance their productivity and income by bringing new technologies and expanding the existing resources.

Agriculture Intervention

Most of the SHG members of Jeevika are small and marginal farmers and Jeevika strives to bring in new technology and best available agricultural practices to enhance productivity. The model used for scaling up of various agriculture interventions combines technology and social organisation to maximise the potential by building the capacity of community members on improved sustainable agricultural practices.

The objective to introduce technology was to serve the Community Farmer Field School (CFFS) as an effective centre of local knowledge repository, capture feedback data for local learning and best practices by using videos, introduce videos during the trainings and capacitate the Village Resource Persons (VRPs) on the use of technology.

Methodology Adopted

VRPs among the SHGs promoted by Jeevika were identified and trained in video production, story board and editing, and dissemination of videos. These VRPs share videos among the SHG members and motivate them to adopt the new agriculture practices.

As BRLPS moves towards institutionalisation of women farmers in the form of producer groups, farmer field school has been made an integrated component under it. The objective of Community Farmers Field School is to provide first-hand information to the farmers in their fields by using technology and enable them to compare and adopt the best crop production and protection practices

Also Read: Education Gets Technology Push

Information Flow

1. Dissemination schedule: A detailed schedule is prepared for dissemination at the SHG level. This includes date, time and place of dissemination, along with the names of two SHGs, which would be combined for dissemination.

2. Selection of video production team: A video production team is formed through selection process in each district. Three VRPs become the part of video production team. The team is trained on the process of video production and they are defined with few specific roles and responsibilities.

Their major responsibilities include content/subject/ best practices identification through interaction with community members, approval of story board from thematic experts, and preparation and dissemination of video among community members.

3. Special care is taken by the production team to ensure that only local protagonists feature in these videos. VRPs identify the SHG member to feature in a particular video after ensuring that she has been practising the intervention on which the video is to be made. This serves a dual purpose; firstly, it recognises the best practices being followed by an SHG, and secondly, utilising local resources makes the video more relevant and familiar to the targeted audience.

Diffusion Phase

This is a phase that involves video dissemination and getting the feedback from the field. The two major processes involved in the phase are:

key-Result1. Dissemination:

Dissemination refers to the communication and spreading of information to the community by showing them locally produced video films. The dissemination model being followed in the pilot intervention is VRP-driven, i.e. the VRPs have been given Pico-projectors to show video films to SHG members. These VRPs act as video dissemination mediators and their performance is measured against the number of disseminations, attendance of members and adoption of the practice in the field. Different types of forms are also distributed among the VRPs like dissemination form, adoption form, etc, for feedback and attendance recording purposes.

2. Feedback:
This project has been able to establish a fairly efficient channel for backward information flow from the field for monitoring the progress. In the fortnightly meetings with the VRPs, new videos are loaded into their Pico-projectors and the practice on which the video is made is also explained to them. The technical issues with the projector are discussed and sorted out in these meetings by the Digital Green personnel.

Also Read: IT Reshaping Urban Landscape in Bihar

Dissemination form contains the details of the number of members to whom the video has been shown along with the farmers who are interested in adoption, while adoption form contains details of the farmers who have already adopted a practice. The data from these forms becomes the base for the feedback system.

Achievements so far

  • Better Cognition: Wherever the dissemination have taken place so far, the SHG members were unanimous on the fact that watching videos have helped them in better understanding and better application of the practices being described. Videos act as a virtual on-field exposure for the women as they are able to see live examples of application of various techniques and practices.
  • Uniform Information: The videos have also been a great help in eliminating the gaps or distortions in the information being passed on to the field. The video acts as a standard information package uniform for all the audience. This reduces the chances of the VRPs missing out on any critical point or passing on incorrect information.
  • Better Adoption: Though it might be too premature to assess the impact in terms of adoption, the results so far have been encouraging. In SRI (System of Rice Intensification) and SWI (System of Wheat Intensification), better adoption rates can be expected in the coming seasons as more and more people have shown interest in taking up the practice.
  • Reduced Transaction, Time & Cost: The new process has helped in significantly reducing the transaction time and cost for both VRPs as well as the villagers. There is better flexibility in terms of timing of the video shows as per the demand of the SHGs. Also, more number of people are being served at the same time unlike the earlier method where the VRPs used to visit individual households or farms to educate people.

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