Updated Oct 17, 2019

Community video

We cost-effectively increase smallholder farmers’ access to and uptake of critical agricultural and nutrition information by partnering with existing extension providers to produce short videos featuring local farmers demonstrating improved practices

https://www.digitalgreen.org/videos/

Rebekah Stutzman

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Stage 5: Scaling

We have facilitated production of more than 6,000 localized videos in 50 languages and dialects, which have been screened by 17,000 frontline workers to reach 2.3 million rural households (77% women).

Registered as a Non-Profit in United States.

Focus Areas:

Livestock & Agriculture, Nutrition, Digital Development and 1 MoreSEE ALL

Livestock & Agriculture, Nutrition, Digital Development and Climate Change and ResilienceSEE LESS

Implemented In:

India, Ghana, Ethiopia and 11 MoreSEE ALL

India, Ghana, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Guinea, Niger, Senegal, Malawi, Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, Kenya and South SudanSEE LESS

2,500,000
Lives Impacted to Date
14
Countries Implemented In
2,300,000
Customers
115
Employees

Problem

Although smallholder farmers produce up to 80% of the food supply in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, the highest incidence of poverty globally is associated with agricultural employment. In developing countries, the number of small and marginal land holdings is growing along with rural populations while average farm sizes shrink. Small-scale farmers are acutely vulnerable to shocks and changing climactic conditions, making them more likely to be malnourished. Although raising smallholder farmers’ yields and incomes is critical, lack of access to relevant, actionable information constrains farmers’ capacity to improve their livelihoods.

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Solution

We bridge information gaps by developing innovative, appropriate, and cost-effective technologies that enable poor, rural people to access information and make informed decisions that improve their lives. Our core approach is to partner with and train agricultural and health extension providers to produce, disseminate, and monitor the impact of short, locally-relevant videos that share knowledge and prompt adoption of practices that improve agricultural production, livelihoods and nutrition.

Target Beneficiaries

Our beneficiaries are poor, frequently food insecure, and economically vulnerable farmers, primarily in India and Ethiopia, who farm very small plots of land (one hectare or less). These smallholder farmers typify national statistics for undernutrition (40% of rural children under five years old are stunted) and poverty (33% of Ethiopia’s rural population and 15% of India’s rural population earn less than $1.90/day). Farmers we work with typically have 3-4 years of education, and over 33% cannot read or write. In India, more than 90% of beneficiaries are women; in Ethiopia, men comprise about 75% of beneficiaries.

Innovation Description

We cost-effectively increase smallholder farmers’ access to and uptake of critical agricultural and nutrition information by partnering with existing extension providers to produce short videos featuring local farmers demonstrating improved practices. Peer community members and extension agents screen the videos among farmer groups and women-led self-help groups using battery-operated mobile projectors, facilitate interactive discussions and gather feedback, and subsequently visit viewers’ fields and homes to observe uptake of promoted practices. More than a message delivery vehicle, our approach has organized timely exchange of locally relevant knowledge, and strengthened the social structures that meet to discuss them. We have facilitated production of more than 6,000 localized videos in 50 languages and dialects, which have been screened by 17,000 frontline workers to reach more than 2 million rural households (77% women) across 10 countries in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, primarily India and Ethiopia. More than 50% of viewers have adopted at least one practice (3 to 4 on average), representing 3.5 million total adoptions. A controlled evaluation in India found that our video approach resulted in a seven-fold increase in uptake of improved practices, making it 10 times more cost-effective than conventional extension methods. The 43 million views received on our YouTube channel demonstrate the demand for this information. Integration of data and farmer feedback has given farmers a voice, increased their production and incomes, and helped national extension systems better respond to community needs. By prioritizing promotion of agricultural practices that provide the highest return on investment, we have increased farmers’ yields by 22% and incomes by 16%.

Competitive Advantage

Our video-enabled approach is an adaptable, scalable, cost-effective solution to reach large numbers of rural community members. Partnering with existing extension providers allows us to tap into trusted networks operating in remote rural communities, enabling rapid scale-up. Our focus on capacity building for long-term sustainability, and our role as facilitators rather than implementers are key differentiators. We involve national and regional-level directors in decision-making and work closely with staff at national, regional, district and village levels to foster ownership and understanding of roles. We have facilitated system-level changes to sustain the approach, including incorporating responsibility for video production and facilitation, and data collection and entry into job descriptions and performance reviews; improving partners’ data analytics systems to track performance and inform decision making; and developing national policies and allocating budgets to manage activities. Based on past success, some partners have applied our approach to other topics, including family planning, off-farm income generation, household budgeting and farmer group capacity building, showing its transferability.

Milestones

Jul 2019
New Country Implemented In
South Sudan
Jun 2019
New Country Implemented In
Kenya
May 2008
Recognition ReceivedPENDING
Mar 2008
New Country Implemented In
India
Mar 2008
New Product or Service
Launch operations in India as Digital Green, the first non-profit spin-off of Microsoft Research