Filmmaker-farmer duo script a story of transformation with natural farming

Vishy, a Rex Karmaveer Chakra Fellowship awardee advocates promotion of natural farming and popularising his co-award winner Narayanappa’s farming practices

December 08, 2023 04:13 pm | Updated December 15, 2023 03:41 pm IST

Vishy and Narayanappa making a presentation at the Karmaveer Chakra Award 2023 function held at Faridabad, Haryana, on November 27, 2023.

Vishy and Narayanappa making a presentation at the Karmaveer Chakra Award 2023 function held at Faridabad, Haryana, on November 27, 2023. | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

In the heartlands of Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, a farmer, Narayanappa, hailing from Mallapuram village, has not only transformed his own livelihood but has also become a beacon of hope for sustainable agriculture across India. His journey, brought to light by Hyderabad-based filmmaker and communication professional Vishy, recently earned them global recognition at the prestigious Karmaveer Chakra Award and Rex Karmaveer Chakra Fellowship function held in Faridabad, Haryana.

The Karmaveer Chakra Award is a distinguished global civilian honour presented by the international confederation of NGOs, iCONGO, in collaboration with the United Nations, recognising commitment and relentless courage in positively impacting society.

Narayanappa’s success story revolves around the innovative ‘Any Time Money’ (ATM) model that Rythu Sadhikara Samstha (RySS) developed. This model, aimed at bringing young people back into farming, has not only garnered accolades but has also demonstrated the potential to revolutionise the entire agricultural landscape of the country.

Sharing stories

Vishy filming Narayanappa on his iPhone

Vishy filming Narayanappa on his iPhone | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Vishy, a seasoned communication professional and Director of the Communication Resource Centre, played a crucial role in bringing Narayanappa’s story to the forefront. His dedication to capturing and sharing stories of vulnerable communities through video has been evident in the past three decades. The meeting between Vishy and Narayanappa during one of the community meetings in the Andhra Pradesh Community-managed Natural Farming (APCNF) programme marked the beginning of a partnership that would eventually lead to global acclaim.

The power of storytelling through video became evident when Vishy, using his iPhone Max, created a compelling narrative of Narayanappa’s journey into natural farming. Despite being accustomed to professional crews, Vishy’s belief in the inspiring nature of Narayanappa’s story prompted him to use a more personal approach. The result was a video that highlighted the challenges faced by smallholder farmers and showcased the transformative potential of natural farming.

Vishy’s encounter with Bruno Dorin, an economist and natural farming proponent in 2022, further amplified the impact of the video. Bruno provided valuable insights and suggestions, emphasising the need to articulate economic benefits for an international audience. The film was subsequently edited with French subtitles by Bruno’s colleague Oumar Lo from ISRA-BAME, an organisation working in Senegal, making it accessible to a broader global audience.

The role model

Narayanappa’s Any Time Model (ATM) of natural farming stands out as an eye-opener, says Vishy, adding, “By cultivating 30 diverse crops in a 30-cent land, including legumes, cereals, and vegetables with varying harvest times, he not only secured a consistent income of ₹2 lakh per annum but also rejuvenated degraded and compacted soils. The model’s success lies in its ability to regenerate soils, save costs on artificial fertilizers, energy, and water, and foster biodiversity by cultivating multiple crop species.”

Honouring civilians
The Karmaveer Chakra Award is a distinguished global civilian honour presented by the international confederation of NGOs, iCONGO, in collaboration with the United Nations. This prestigious accolade is bestowed upon individuals worldwide to recognise their commitment to positively impacting society.
This award pays homage to the legacy of A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the 11th President of India, who was the ambassador for the awards.

As a Rex Karmaveer alumni, Vishy championed Narayanappa’s cause by proposing his name for the awards. He says, “The video was a powerful tool to contextualise Narayanappa’s contribution to food systems change and promote the urgent need for a shift towards agroecology and regenerative approaches, especially in the face of climate change challenges.”

Media impact

Vishy emphasises the pivotal role of awareness in driving the adoption of natural farming. “With the advent of social media, platforms like YouTube have become instrumental in showcasing the impact of natural farming. Farmers, in particular, need to be convinced of the positive outcomes before embracing a new approach. Vishy believes that ‘people’s films’ have immense potential to bring about behavioural change among farmers, making video a potent medium to enhance the adoption of natural farming practices in India.

In the ongoing Conference of the Parties (CoP 28), the eighth United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai, there is a resounding call for a tenfold increase in annual investments in agroecology and regenerative approaches. Narayanappa’s success story and Vishy’s impactful video serve as a testament to the transformative power of natural farming, inspiring a shift towards sustainable agriculture practices and a healthier, more resilient future for India’s farming communities.

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