India has an estimated 300 million farmers and farm laborers who struggle to earn a living through the market channels available to them today.Farmers are increasingly coming together to form producer groups through which they can realize economies of scale, reduce input costs, strengthen their bargaining power, and access finance for working capital and purchasing catalytic infrastructure. Thereare approximately 6,000 active producer groups in India today and the government aims to mobilize a further 10,000 in coming years. While still nascent, only about 30% of these groups are well organized and have reached maturity to take on primary value addition activities like aggregation, grading and sorting, arranging transport logistics and managing customer support. They are universally seeking innovative sales and marketing tools and services.Digital Green is working with small farmers to digitize their sales transactions and generates a rich dataset of hyper-local prices and customer preferences, which are translated to market insights that enable farmers to increase their earnings.An earlier pilot of Digital Green, Loop,was successful in operating a shared transport service which helped 23,000 farmers move 123,000 tons of produce worth about USD 17 million to local markets and realize price increase and cost savings.
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.