Community Correspondents

Dasharathi Behera

Dashrathi works with villages spread across 100 kilometres in Deogarh. Soon after his graduation in Social Work, Dashrathi found it difficult to begin a career in the development sector and that’s when he found VV knocking at his door. Since then, he has made videos on farmers’ rights, especially on issues like irrigation, insurance subsidy, Minimum Support Prices, and how the tiff between central and the state government has been affecting farmers’ lives.

With more than 250 farmer suicides in Bargarh district in two years due to debt or failed crops, it became absolutely important for Dashrathi to promote mixed farming methods of cultivation which proved to be prosperous in his district.  His contribution has enabled the state of Odisha to collect and conserve 1000-1300 varieties of organic seeds.

Dashrathi Behera is an activist from Deogarh district, Odisha, and is currently associated with Desi Beej Suraksha Manch, a platform working for farmers’ rights and agricultural techniques. They motivate farmers to take up practices which will eliminate the use of fertilisers and pesticides in order to prevent diseases associated with them, thereby promoting a healthy lifestyle. Endorsing a poison-free cultivation, pushing the idea of organic farming for at least self-consumption if not commercial purposes.

“I really enjoy making videos on health, education, art and culture or any issue that needs immediate attention. I observed how the mainstream media does not cover any rural local news. In contrast, my videos have successfully engaged with a lot of people from the locality. People are also frank about sharing their views and opinions with me. I don’t pose like the stereotypical journalist, the motive is to gather information and make it available to the masses, these videos are on the issues that surround us to generate awareness. However, there is resistance both by people and political groups and they ask me the reason of my visit and what I will do with these videos; it takes time to develop trust.” says Dashrathi.

Makadiya Sai Basti village is a habitat to 60 Adivasi families with just one tube well functioning in order to access drinking water, Behera’s video coverage on the issue caught the attention of Public Health Engineer and the target officer promptly responded to the community’s plight.

These videos, as Dashrathi believes, have a very high degree of visual impact transcending what verbal awareness creates. It leaves an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of the people, encouraging them to share ideas, opinions and discussions, and also becoming an imminent tool of education.

When the leading paper manufacturing company JK Paper Limited set up a mill in Rayagada district, Odisha, people were asked to give up traditional farming and plant eucalyptus trees in order to cater to their vested interest. This lead to a loss of 70 varieties of organic seeds.

Advocating sustainable and loan-free farming, Dashrathi decided to intervene in the matter and made a video about the same. His video on sustainable mixed farming won accolades and he was felicitated at the Samvaad Film Festival organised by TATA Steel and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. His film also won an award at the prestigious CMS Vatavaran Film Festival, in 2017.

“VV is the medium through which I have made my presence felt in the community and I have managed to earn a name for myself, these people acknowledge my work. VV has made me stand to their expectations and my family. I have been able to find a new Dashrathi in myself. I feel amazing! All of this has made me gain so much personally as well. Today, I have a house built on 600 sq. feet. of land. All my dreams have been fulfilled!”

An extremely motivated Behera aims to utilise the visual form to bring out the atrocities faced by the people of his community, and to make these stories reach the majority of the of people in the country.

Videos from Dasharathi

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Odisha’s Next-Gen Organic Farmers

/ April 1, 2019

An initiative by Deshi Bihan Surakshya Manch where students in Odisha are being taught organic farming in schools.

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Green College: Education with a Purpose

/ January 2, 2018

The Green College in Odisha is leading by example in the field of rural innovation and sustainable livelihoods.

Odisha’s Wonder Oil Makes These Rural Women Economically Independent

/ April 21, 2017

The women of Bijogri village, Odisha are becoming independent after having mastered an age-old art of making a wonder oil from the flowers of Mahua, an Indian tropical tree.

Seeds of Life: A Quiet Revolution is Underway at the Foothills of Niyamgiri

/ April 7, 2017

With help of local organisations, the Panga Kodhs have gone back to traditional, organic, mixed farming methods. Even the forests are benefitting.

Impact: A Functioning Rural Water Supply Scheme!

/ March 13, 2014

Community Correspondent Dasarathi Behera shares how he got a working hand pump for 60 families: Makdiasahi is a tiny village in Deogarh, Odisha. The community comprises of about sixty families, most of whom earned their living by braiding & selling ropes made from material sourced from the ample forests of...

How Mahua seeds made rural women independent

/ January 3, 2017

“Now we step out of our homes confidently. This is our achievement”. This statement sums up the spirit of euphoria of the members of “Bansidhara Producer Group Of Women”, a Self Help Group formed in Bijgori village of Odisha. Around 36 women members from Bijgori village joined to form Bansidhara...

Farmer rally for stop farmer suicide in Odisha

/ June 15, 2016

“5000 farmers from western Odisha, marched to the main square, Gangadhar Mandap, of Sambalpur city in agitation as Odisha government refuses to link farmer suicides to crop failure. The state inquiry reports state that the farmer deaths are mainly due to family disputes and excessive liquor consumption and not due...

Survivors of Perished Farmers lead a movement against Odisha Govt

/ June 30, 2016

5000 farmers from western Odisha, marched to the main square, Gangadhar Mandap, of Sambalpur city in agitation as Odisha government refuses to link farmer suicides to crop failure. The state inquiry reports state that the farmer deaths are mainly due to family disputes and excessive liquor consumption and not due...