Digital Green is dedicated to improving the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of small farmer livelihoods. We aim to raise the livelihoods of smallholder farmers across the developing world through the targeted production and dissemination of agricultural information via participatory video and mediated instruction through grassroots-level partnerships. This work begins by disseminating targeted agricultural information to small and marginal farmers using a cost-realistic media exchange that is supported by existing, people-based extension systems and local facilitators. The unique components of Digital Green are (1) a participatory process for content production, (2) a locally generated digital video database, (3) human-mediated instruction for dissemination and training, and (4) regimented sequencing to initiate a new community. Unlike some systems that expect information or communication technology alone to deliver useful knowledge to marginal farmers, Digital Green works with existing, people-based extension systems and aims to amplify their effectiveness. While video provides a point of focus, it is people and social dynamics that ultimately make Digital Green work. Local social networks are tapped to connect farmers with experts; the thrill of appearing “on TV” motivates farmers; and homophily is exploited to minimize the distance between teacher and learner.
What we deliver
Using cost-realistic technologies, like TVs, DVD players, and camcorders, Digital Green cultivates an ecosystem of educational, entrepreneurial, and entertaining content. Local relevance stimulates the viral diffusion of agricultural practices. In fact, some farmers compete to appear on a sort-of “Farmer Idol” program which reinforces existing social networks and generates motivational “currency”.
Whom we deliver
A key factor that resulted in the substantial gain of Digital Green over Training & Visit is the sustained presence of a local facilitator who regularly engages his or her community. In addition, Digital Green improves the efficiency of extension officers who can reach a greater number of villages and communities with the support of a local facilitator and shared TV and DVD player. The on-demand nature of video offers the capacity for repetition to ensure that concepts are grasped and novelty is introduced by building “critical mass” of farmers adopting practices.
Why is the project unique?
Digital Green is unique in the sense that 1. It uses locally produced video and mediated instruction to amplify efforts in agriculture extension, or disseminate agricultural knowledge to marginal farmers. Digital Green is a combined system of technology and social organization that consists of locally produced videos of farmers taking up better agricultural practices, and mediated screening sessions in which farmers regularly gather to watch videos in the presence of a local facilitator who frequently pauses the video and provokes discussion. 2. Digital Green has been shown to be at least ten times as effective, per dollar spent, in converting farmers to better farming practices, than a classic Training & Visit-based approach to agriculture extension. On a per-farmer basis, Digital Green’s costs are actually lower than the traditional, government-supported system of agriculture extension.
Digital Green addresses to two key areas where agricultural extension has historically faced major shortcomings: production of relevant content and distribution to small-scale farmers. Classical extension programs have typically followed either a top-down, push-based approach in which information is broadcast to farmers or a pull-based approach in which farmers pose questions to experts. These systems have shown some success in the field; however, the programs are either too general because they aim to be highly scalable (push-based) or too costly because they require experts to provide advice on an individual basis (pull-based). Digital Green integrates the use of locally recorded video, “mediated instruction,” and existing extension systems to increase adoption rates among farmers of new practices and technologies, and to sustainably raise farmer incomes for the long-term. Because audio-visual formats are likely preferred to mostly illiterate, visually-oriented groups, the idea is to encourage the use of video (using a combination of DVD players and TVs or handheld Pico projectors) to reach out to farmers. “Mediated instruction” is a particular use of video and audio in educational contexts, where a facilitator, who is not necessarily a subject matter expert, is present to pause, playback, ask questions, encourage discussion, and otherwise provoke participation. This kind of tutored video instruction has been shown to be very effective. By building on extension systems, we take advantage of existing social networks that farmers already have. It is a known sociological phenomenon that uptake of new ideas happens through social networks, traveling between social connections. Farmers are most likely to adopt new technologies and farming practices when they hear about them from other farmers and see them successfully locally demonstrated. Thus, Digital Green uses local farmer-generated content as a means of advocacy. Digital Green serves as a collaborative platform for exchanging locally relevant knowledge using a digital pipeline comprised of cost-effective technologies.
Mr. Rikin Gandhi
Second Floor, Building 2A, Corner Market, Malviya Nagar
New Delhi, India
URL/Website – www.digitalgreen.org