Access to locally relevant, trustworthy information can help smallholder farmers leverage climate-resilient agricultural practices. Through integrated use of participatory community video, interactive voice response (IVR), SMS, and mobile applications, Digital Green has cost-effectively increased smallholders’ access to and uptake of accurate, timely, and localized advisory messages. Our work is helping smallholder farmers to become more resilient to environmental shocks by sustainably increasing land productivity and rural livelihoods while preserving natural resources.
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 will 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 ( VR ) — 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 dellivery channels.
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 to 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.