Saving the Land with Video


"The Deccan Development Society is projecting a working model for the people oriented participative development in the areas of food security, ecological agriculture, and alternate education. It is also trying to reverse the historical process of degradation of the environment and people's livelihood system in this region through a string of land related activities such as Perma-culture, Community Grain Bank, Community Gene Fund, Community Green Fund and Collective Cultivation through land Lease etc. These activities, along side taking on the role of Earth care is also resulting in human care, by giving the Women a new found dignity and profile in their village communities. The Society is trying to relocate the people's knowledge in the area of Health and Agriculture."

The Deccan women's video workshops have active for over ten years. Deep Dish commissioned the women to update the documentary that they had made about their work in 1998. These are some excerpts from that initial documentary and statements by recent participants. Now, more than ever, the work they are doing is important. Their tapes of saving local seeds and their documents of biodiversity are crucially important in an era when "Free Trade" regulations are imposing corporate farming practices in rural India.

"The Deccan Development Society (DDS), is a two-decade old grassroots organization working in about 75 villages with women’s Sanghams (voluntary village level associations of the poor) in Medak District of Andhra Pradesh. The 5000 women members of the Society represent the poorest of the poor in their village communities. Most of them are dalits, the lowest group in the Indian social hierarchy. In 2001, the video and radio women formed themselves into a rural women’s media collective known as the DDS Community Media Trust which includes their own radio station. The DDS FM Radio is five year old and has canned nearly five hundred hours of programmes.

They predominantly work with issues like agricultural needs of semi-arid regions, education and literacy, public health and hygiene, environmental and ecological issues, biodiversity and food security, gender justice, local/indigenous knowledge systems and emphasis on traditional folk culture. The Community Media Trust (CMT) has an active community video and radio unit. They have been producing audios and videos for the past six years now. The radio station is very keen on a participative approach to media. Independent registration of the CMT validates that the station is moving towards self sustainability, community management and ownership. The content produced by the media trust reflects community needs by creating awareness and by promoting community participation."

For a photo essay about the Deccan work, go to the article by Alfonso Gumucio Dagron at: