A-farming, we will go

By TheHindu on 17 Nov 2016

The #Be a Farmdost intiative from TAFE aims to raise awareness about farming as a profession and inculcate respect for farmers

My daughter came back from school and eagerly filled me in on a wonderful interactive programme at school called Be a #Farmdost. The students were given a short, but effective, lecture on the importance of the agricultural sector and a kit to start their own little farms. The kit consisted of a packet of seeds and instructions on how to grow them. My daughter got spinach and lady’s finger while others had spinach and cluster beans. The instructions were very detailed and precise. The students were also encouraged to think about the different kinds of containers in which they could grow their plants. “Don't go and buy pots,” they were told. “Look around your house; you can use an old broken bucket, tin can, mud pot ... Just make holes at the bottom for drainage.” And the school’s recycling lesson was reiterated.

The ‘Be a #Farmdost’ kit not only consists of seeds and compost mixture but also a very important message to both the parent and the student. The #Farmdost representatives also want the kids to share this activity with relatives and friends. It could be a wonderful way for families to bond and together they could spread the message that we should be proud of our farmers. They are every bit as important as any other professional in the service industry, if not more so.

The first phase has been launched in Tiruchi, Madurai ,Coimbatore and Chennai. The #Farmdost Facebook page has over 1,00,000 fans. Each stage of growth from shoot to mature plant has to also be clearly documented through photographs. There are rules and regulations for how these pictures should presented. This will be judged as an ongoing competition. A healthy and friendly competition among schools adds to the excitement of growing their own plants.

The school that uploads the maximum number of pictures and has the most number of enthusiastic little farm hands will find a special mention. There are different categories of awards (see box).

The #thank you farmers award is what I like best. This involves students visiting a farmer in their area and acknowledging them in an innovative manner.

Giving thanks could be a home-cooked meal for the farmer, spending an hour with them in their environment or maybe even writing a verse in appreciation of their hard work.

The most innovative gesture will be highlighted. This is the great way to teach them to appreciate the farmers’ contribution to their lives. The good news is that the #Farmdost is not just for students. Anyone who is willing to contribute can be a Farmdost. You can order your own free Farmdost kit and get started on your own farm. At every stage, you can upload pictures and videos of your progress and share it on social media by hashtagging Farmdost.

The idea is to bring about “a paradigm shift in the way the urban society looks at farmers and engages with them”. It will include outreach programmes that will tackle different needs of the agricultural sector and how the general population can work towards meeting them. The #Farmdost initiative is committed to putting the ‘pride’ back into farming.

Awards galore

#ThankYouFarmers Awards: Three awards from each city for individual students who have met three farmers and thanked them with the most innovative gesture

Best #FarmDost Student contest: Three individual awards for participants in each city

Best #FarmDost School Awards: Top three schools in each city with the highest percentage of participation in the Best #FarmDost Student contest

#ThankYouFarmers School Awards: Top three schools in each city with the highest percentage of participation in the #ThankYouFarmers Student contest

Champion of Champions Award: One school will be selected based on the overall participation percentage in all the activities among the four cities.

More details on www.farmdost.com