Great find, more people being proactive, But the end of Permies?
It would seem to me that on Permies it is not farmers risking being destitute if their farm fails. We have the luxury of other food and income, and have more "common general knowledge" than an isolated ag town in a 3rd world country. Not to say they do not know things about their locale that we do not.
Having said that, in order to answer some of the tough and specific question the farmers have. Using the example on the page. The Kenyan question translated into Spanish and then answered by a Peruvian farmer, is a direct question and answer format, limited to 160 letters each text. While Permies is an open discussion with unlimited capacity and video and pictures and pod-casts, and outside links to boot.
From that perspective, Permies looks like a repository of information and ideas crucial to answer questions with a fuller compliment of different peoples knowledge. I would be weary to trust in a single persons answer to any problem of mine, no matter what their qualifications. What if the Peruvian farmer is wrong? How does he/she get feedback from the Kenyan farmer? Is there a way to track information and keep people accountable for the things they say?
Rather than have a field of Kenyans staring at their phones, what a horrible thought!, why not make computers more available? They are better suited to education IMO. There is already a group getting solar powered, tough built, $100 laptops out to as many children as possible. One computer screen with a few people sitting around it, watching videos and participating in forums and other online communities. That to me sounds like what the cell phones would be trying to accomplish. You do not even have to boot the kids out of the $100 laptop charity. Children can teach themselves how to use a computer and surf the net. Then relate it to their parents, bringing two generations into the conversation.
and here is a video on children teaching themselves how to use the internet in English, in rural India. This guy seems to be as world renown like Tesla, which is to say his genius is not known enough at all.
Besides . . texting is good and all, but there is a certain romance to a message board.
Wow! They got $300,000 in actual money and they hope to reach 20,000? I run permies.com in the red and I reach a lot more than that.
And then the question was "I'm growing a monocrop and having problems, what do I do?" and then there is a lot of one-on-one work through cell phones and the response is "Work harder." --- I hope permies is of more help.
I think this is a good thing, though not quite as "deep green" as permies.
As a botanist and grower I think the easiest way to get the maximum amount of eco-benefit is to take a "harm-reduction" stance with these third-world monoculture-type farmers. The cotton & corn farmers down where I live, I have no sympathy for: they are rich, spoiled, and willfully ignorant. But these third world type farmers are pinned in situations where they likely face ruin with the failure of the current crop. These people cannot afford to experiment, and often the choice for them is use toxic crap to kill the pests resulting from poorly managed monoculture, or lose their ability to earn for their families.
I know first hand how bad these damn diseases monoculture farmers deal with, just moving to a heavily agricultural area I got simultaneous infections of fusarium oxypetalum and erwinia cactivora in my current crop of endangered-species cacti. If I hadn't had immediate access to a biological control for these guys (trichoderma + bacillus subtilis) I would have had to treat everything with captan and banrot within a day, or lose my ass this year, and work all year to lose money overall.
I'd sign on to answer text messages. I know a lot about which industrial crap is the "least worst". And I'd get to scold them for using pesticides other than dish soap to kill aphids and whiteflies. Or getting glyphosate farmers to use this stuff: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonium_nonanoate
Ain't perfect but better than roundup (or worse diquat/paraquat/2,4-D) by a loooooong shot, analogous to giving clean needles to heroin addicts so they don't get aids on top of being a heroin addict...
OK, it is kind of like a permies twitter mashup. I can see value in that, as way more people have cell access than internet.
It would take a lot more money to reach them in the first place, since you can't use the internet to do it.
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi.
"Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus