Reaching Farmers in Times of COVID-19

By: Team Digital Green


COVID-19 is creating challenges for our day-to-day project implementation plans, in particular, how we work with farmers. Digital Green established task forcesto explore how we can adapt our approaches and leverage technologies to communicate vital information amidst social distancing and lockdowns and to support smallholder farmers in coping with the economic impacts of COVID-19.The task forces shared the following innovations they are implementing to support farmers under the unprecedented challenges ofthis pandemic

Surveys to understand farmer needs

Digital Green is collaborating with its government partners in India to gather ground-level data via phone and WhatsApp surveys. The goal is to survey 800 farmers (200 each in AP, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha) and provide government agencies with information to help them to proactively respond and prevent agricultural shocks and food security issues. Key questions in the survey include the challenges around the completion of the Rabicrop harvest, crops and acreage planned for Kharifcrops, and inputs needed for theKharif season.

Results from the survey indicate that

Integrating digital channels of content delivery

Based on these findings, Digital Green is prioritizing radio, IVR and SMS as communication channels that do not require in-person presence for sharing information. Potential content delivery includes information about traders/buyers via IVR on a regular schedule, digitally linking farmers with potential buyers in collaboration with local government, providing digital extension information (agronomic and livestock handling practices), and early warning information regarding weather, disease and pest outbreaks.

Supporting market linkages

Digital Green launched a directoryto help buyers discover local smallholder farmers with available produce.This responds to concerns from farmers near Bangalore, whose crops were going to waste on the farm given that the traditional markets (mandis) were disrupted by the lockdown. This directory helps create market linkages, prevent crop loss, support food security, and ensure farmers are still able to sell their crops.Digital Green is also evaluating ideas for new products and services that build on our existing solutions and helps smallholder farmers increase income and realize operational excellence in a commercially viable, scalable manner. We are exploring themes like marketplaces, traceability of produce, and agronomic advisory services.

Direct support to partners

As noted above, the surveys are not only providing valuable information on farmers’ needs and how to best address those, but the results are shared with government partnersin order to support their efforts to address the impacts of COVID-19 on agriculture.Our government partners are requesting support to ramp up their digital responsesfor example (1) provision of remote/virtual training on new technologies and practices; (2) co-funding for radio, poster production, microphones and fuel and other means to broadcast public health messages in villages, as well as personal protective equipment
for extension staff and laborers; and (3) financial support to cover content production and broadcast costs to reach farmers with agricultural messaging using regional radio.How are you and your organization supporting and reaching farmers during this pandemic? If you see opportunities to collaborate with Digital Green, please reach out to us too! Share your ideas and feedback at