MSUToday
Published: March 14, 2017

MSU to partner with Indian media giant, helping local farmers

Contact(s): Amol Pavangadkar Media and Information office: (517) 355-7628 amol.pavangadkar@gmail.com, Nikki O'Meara College of Communication Arts and Sciences office: (517) 353-0706 wickhamn@msu.edu

Michigan State University and Indian media company Ramoji Film City are partnering to help farmers better produce food for India.

The project involves the university’s communication and agriculture experts and the Ramoji Media Group, a multi-media giant that reaches some 620 million Indians with television stations, films, newspapers and online media.

The Hyderabad-based Ramoji is launching a new channel for farmers struggling to feed a growing population. MSU will help Ramoji identify stories about agricultural innovations that can help meet climate change, drought, flooding and other production challenges.

The partnership includes an exchange of materials between MSU and the media company, such as education and research, publications, academic information and media content. MSU faculty and research scholars aim to work with producers at RFC to create television programming in multiple Indian languages.

“This project is an important intersection of content, distribution and expertise,” said Amol Pavangadkar, director of Sandbox Studios and senior specialist with media and information in MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences. “MSU knows agriculture and communication and RFC has the creative programming capacity and reach needed to engage farmers and other stakeholders.”

MSU officials from the colleges of Communication Arts and Sciences, Agricultural and Natural Resources, Education, Engineering and Business, as well as International Studies and Programs and MSU Extension, signed an agreement to work on the project during a recent visit to India. They met with government, higher education, foundation and corporate executives and reviewed partnership options. Each college has submitted development ideas, research and concepts for consideration to pitch to RFC for future programming.

“This cross-continental partnership, involving a media empire and a higher educational institution, is unusual in that complementary institutional strengths are being leveraged to address global issues,” said Satish Udpa, executive vice president. “The goals of the partnership are truly aligned with the rich traditions of MSU in transforming lives and advancing knowledge.”

The project will also benefit from The Food Fix, a multi-media news service produced by MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, that reports on food systems innovation as part of MSU’s Global Center for Food Systems Innovation.

“We’re looking forward to helping Ramoji identify and produce similar stories,” said David Poulson, senior associate director of MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. “The kind of research MSU supports provides plenty of material about safely producing and distributing food. These important stories need to be told globally.”

The project also continues the long relationship between RFC and MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Science, established by Pavangadkar through his study abroad program. The students undertake production workshops and seminars on Indian and world cinema and translate their experiences in India into a script for a short film, which is then produced and premiered at the end of their trip.

“The MSU partnership with Ramoji Film City offers a number of opportunities for collaboration,” said Prabu David, dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. “With a reach of more 600 million people through cable TV channels in 14 languages, RFC offers a big audience for MSU researchers in areas such as education, agriculture, health, entrepreneurship and childhood development.”

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