Digital Green

Digital Green was incubated in Microsoft Research India’s Technology for Emerging Markets team in 2006. Spun off as an independent organization in 2008, Digital Green now works with public, civil and private sector extension systems across 1,500 villages in India, Ethiopia, and Ghana

Digital Green partners with existing public, civil, and private sector extension agencies to bring together technology and social organization to improve their efficiency and broaden the participation of the communities that they work with. In each district, 4-6 members of the community are trained to produce videos that are by farmers, of farmers, and for farmers to exchange agricultural practices that can boost their productivity. These short, 8-10 min videos are vetted by the domain experts of each partner and are distributed on memory cards for playback on battery-operated, pico projectors. In each village, 6-8 groups of 15-20 farmers each, mostly belonging to women self-help groups, participate in screenings of the videos every two weeks which are mediated by a service provider from the community who understands the local social dynamics in an interactive, reflective forum. The first two questions that farmers often ask when they see these videos is 'What is the name of the farmer in the video?' and 'Which village is he or she from?' to authenticate its source. Seeing often can be believing. Some farmers even compete to appear “on video” to be seen as a role model in their community.

Digital Green’s website provides a platform for institutional sharing of the more than 2,500 videos in 20 different languages produced thus far and tracks each video’s reach, the feedback of farmers, and the adoption of featured practices and technologies. The community’s feedback assists in targeting videos based on location- and time-sensitivities as well as a partner’s existing interventions. These analytics are built upon a data stack which captures the histories of each of the 125,000 farmers (>70% women) that Digital Green works with to inform and be informed by agriculture research agencies and private suppliers of relevant goods and services. In a controlled evaluation, this approach was found to improve the efficiency of conventional extension systems by a factor of 10 times, per dollar spent. Digital Green negotiates cost-sharing agreements with each partner and the communities that it works with. Digital Green is also linking offline networks of farmers that its work with in the field to online social networks with a Facebook game, called Wonder Village, to connect consumers and producers of food in a fun and educational way.

Digital Green was incubated in Microsoft Research India’s Technology for Emerging Markets team in 2006. Spun off as an independent organization in 2008, Digital Green now works with public, civil and private sector extension systems across 1,500 villages in India, Ethiopia, and Ghana. The approach leverages investments like the approximately $150m that the Government of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture spends on extension services each year by enabling agents with tools that enhance their ability to communicate with farmers, build their own capacities over time, and bring greater transparency and accountability to their work. Farmer groups which provide the primary forum for the screenings of videos are also strengthened by videos which serve as a focal point to bring together people around educational, entrepreneurial, and entertaining content. Digital Green is in the process of extending its approach to engage at least one million farmers in 10,000 villages over the next four years and is exploring opportunities to converge interventions in food and nutrition security.

http://www.digitalgreen.org
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