At Digital Green, we identify most impactful agricultural practices that maximize profits for farmers by partnering with researchers and practitioners. And by spending time in the field to understand the challenges faced by farmers. We look at the resources they can and cannot access, and the potential of the practices to increase productivity and income. We then use information and communications technologies that are most accessible to the communities to disseminate this information, are cost effective when aiming for scale.
Our video-based extension approach has been found to be 10 times more cost effective and seven times more effective in improving adoption of new practices. Our approach has resulted in an increase of 24-74% yield across various commodities.
Through the TARA project, Digital Green aims to improve resilience and livelihoods of smallholder farmers by enabling efficient delivery of targeted, relevant and timely extension advisory recommendations and improving access to markets and market information. Digital Green will also build out our FarmStack data interoperability back-end system architecture that helps to integrate helpful information for guiding farmers (soil, weather, seed and planting information) by adding farmer profile data capabilities and building out consent-based architecture to better enable this work.
We expect that delivering localized, targeted extension messaging through this proposed grant project will result in improved rates of adoption of promoted production practices, resulting in 37,500 hectares under improved management.
This improvement paired with digital tools that improve FPOs’ ability to access competitive markets will raise farmers’ incomes by both increasing the percentage of farmers participating in FPO sales and increasing FPOs’ revenues.
This project aims to reach 75,000 farmers (30% of them women farmers) with targeted agriculture extension messages via video, IVR and WhatsApp and to train and build capacities of of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) in the area of marketing by increasing their revenue from sales by 20%. Digital Green will also develop and test market discovery tools and buyer discovery maps and omni-channel sales dashboards to strengthen these FPOs.
The project aims to test, evaluate and demonstrate a scalable and replicable digital model that integrates appropriate technology tools and platforms to deliver timely, high-quality advisory messages to chili farmers in AP and connect them to buyers.Digital Green will lead this project support delivery of digital extension to improve production quality for at least 10,000 chili farmers by training a cadre of video resource persons in association with ITC while aligning with Dept of Horticulture, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh to produce localized, targeted videos that feature smallholder farmers successfully applying cost-effective and less resource-and labor-intensive farming practices.
Digital Green will also train extension agents of ITC on video dissemination, to work with chili farmers in the target region. They will be trained using Digital Green’s in-person and mobile-based virtual training courseware to deliver the package of practice to the farmers. Digital Green and ITC will collaborate with Accelerating Growth of New India’s Innovations (AGNIi) to identify and test relevant technologies, design pilots of 2 or 3 selected technologies among 100-200 farmers and assess benefits for farmers’ livelihoods and potential for transportability to other geographies and use-cases.
Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek had a vision for big, bold ideas to change the world. In 2020, The Roddenberry Foundation’s US$ 1 million biennial prizes, designed to advance the vision of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry quickly pivoted to engage organizations who have demonstrated their agility and innovation on the frontlines of Covid-19 and was awarded to four organizations (including Digital Green) working to better humanity amidst the challenges of the global pandemic.
COVID-19 threatens both the health and livelihoods of rural communities and has already been a large shock to smallholder farmers, disrupting traditional supply chains. With food supplies disrupted, widespread hunger is a growing concern. Changes to traditional markets and difficulty relying on informal traders have highlighted the need for a new digital marketplace infrastructure that enables lower transaction costs for buyers and sellers, and greater value capture for smallholder farmers.
Digital Green is addressing the immediate economic effects of the pandemic in India and building the resilience of farming communities by using digital technologies to pivot from in-person extension and advisory services to delivery of advisory messages directly to farmers’ cell phones; and by connecting farmers to buyers directly via digital marketplace through which buyers can discover local produce, assess quality via photos, and purchase directly from farmers.
Digital Green’s assets and capabilities uniquely position it to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on farming communities globally. Their proven approaches include developing customized and relevant content, strengthening digital behavior change communication, managing farmer feedback and data as well as improving market linkages and building extension system capacity.
With the US$ 250,000 award Digital Green reformatted its digital video library into short-form videos and audio messages deliverable via WhatsApp and is developing an AI chatbot to send those advisories directly to farmers in two Indian languages (Hindi and Odiya). Farmers can interact with the chatbot using local language text-based input. Additionally, to increase its interactive functionality, we are adding speech recognition functions to the chatbot in these two local languages. This will help scale remote delivery of advisory information and enable efficient data collection from farmers with which to auto-populate the supplier directory. This is expected to deliver advisories to 200,000 farmers and enroll the same number in the digital marketplace supplier directory.
Digital Green is working in partnership with the Andhra Pradesh Department of Agriculture and Cooperation to further incorporate its video-based extension approach within the Department, and scale up its use in all of the state’s 13 districts. In the first two years, the partnership is extending the model across 2500 new villages to reach 300,000 smallholder farmer households.
The goals of the project are to: 1) successfully integrate appropriate and cost-effective use of ICTs to deliver information to farmers in a timely manner; and 2) increase adoption of climate-resilient agronomic practices. The partnership is centered around promoting Andhra Pradesh Community Natural Farming (APCNF) practices, which address soil degradation, biodiversity loss and water scarcity. APCNF practices include in-situ biological resources (rather than chemical inputs) to rejuvenate the soil, with a focus on increasing yields, restoring ecosystem health and promoting climate resilience and food and nutrition security through diverse cropping systems.
In this project funded by the Walmart Foundation, Digital Green is developing and testing a digital platform prototype that integrates localized and relevant information from multiple sources for dissemination via mutually reinforcing analog and digital channels. Two use cases were used to demonstrate the efficacy of the technology for improving the productivity of smallholder farmers and the efficiency of agriculture extension advisory provision. Based on discussions with farmers, which elicited overwhelming demand for information to improve yields and manage infections of cashew crops, the first use case is focused on providing timely agronomic advisories that improve flowering by preventing flower drop and flower burn. Although agronomy experts in Andhra Pradesh know that flower drop can occur in prolonged drought-like conditions or frequent fog, and that flower burn is an attack by a fungus that occurs with frequent fog, there is no system for using weather data to formulate targeted advisories about either condition.
Our work bridges this gap by integrating village-level weather data and forecasts with farm-specific data and soil information to contextualize and inform timely advisory messages. Messages reach farmers via two complementary channels —Digital Green’s video-enabled approach and interactive voice response (IVR) —so that farmers can take preventive measures to protect cashew trees. Delivery of critical weather-related information, like other dynamic content, is best suited for IVR, whereas video is more suited to static content. The prevalence of low literacy levels among the target population calls for the use of non-text based information delivery channels.
Digital Green works with the Government of India’s National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) to engage with rural communities across nine states to promote uptake of best practices related to agriculture and livelihoods, non-farm practices, financial inclusion and institution building.Nearly 13,000 frontline extension agents use Digital Green’s video-enabled approach to promote uptake of best practices in 13,195 villages, reaching more than 1.1 million farmers (94% women). More than 55% of farmers have adopted at least one practice promoted in a video they viewed, and many adopt more. A randomized control trial in Bihar state found that the video-enabled approach increased adoption rates by 50% over Bihar’s traditional extension approach.
Farmers who have adopted practices have, on average 22% higher production levels and 16% higher incomes.Through a two-year partnership with Andhra Pradesh’s Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Digital Green is experimenting with innovative digital tools such as use of hyperspectral imagery to predict and prevent pest infestations; use of photo-and ground-based diagnostic and advisory services that enable farmers to make real-time, site-specific pest and farm management decisions; and use of an app through which farmers in low-bandwidth areas can access videos on good agricultural practices from their cell phones. Use of IVR to efficiently deliver timely reminders and supplementary information to farmers and front line workers has increased adoption of promoted practices and increased interest/engagement among farmers who have not attended video dissemination sessions. A partnership with Skymet Weather Services provides localized weather information, which is used to contextualize recommendations and help farmers make informed decisions regarding irrigation and fertilizer and insecticide application.Digital Green is also developing and testing a series of prototypes to contextualize advisory service provision to farmers. These prototypes integrate our extensive data system and video library with content and data from other sources to cost-effectively provide farmers with more timely, targeted and higher quality information.Our Government of India partners have committed funding to sustain and scale the video-enabled extension approach well beyond the life of this investment to reach 7 million more farmers within the next five years.
In collaboration with various NGO partners, and with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Digital Green leveraged our Community Videos solution to disseminate better agricultural practices and technologies to 1,200 Indian villages.
Together with our partners, we produced, disseminated, and catalogued over 1,500 short videos featuring local smallholder farmers in familiar resource-constrained situations adopting better agricultural practices and technologies. We also created a replicable model and the institutional infrastructure to enable even broader applications of the Digital Green approach.Over three and half years, we improved the cost-effectiveness of our partners’ existing people-based extension systems by a factor of three times, per dollar spent, and improved the livelihoods of 60,000 smallholder farmers.