Project Progress and Results
Progress
General Progress
Digital Green has primarily scaled by building on its partnerships with seven non-governmental organizations- namely, PRADAN, BAIF, Samaj Pragati Sahayog, ACCESS, Action for Social Advancement, PRAGATI, and VARRAT - and recently began a partnership with the Government of India's National Rural Livelihoods Mission. As described in our 2009-10 annual report, these partnerships were established after a competitive review and due diligence process that evaluated the domain expertise, operational strength, and community-level rapport of each organization. Sub agreements then were finalized in which mechanisms for cost effectiveness, quality assurance, and sustainability were emphasized. Digital Green's team bootstrapped the technology and social organizational elements of the model with each partner and progressively transitioned to regional offices in Bangalore, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, and New Delhi to provide the necessary technology development and resource agency support to each partner. The Digital Green system now involves 58,902 farmers across six states in India: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Orissa. Supporting these activities, the Digital Green team includes 22 core team members, 102 partner staff, and 524 community intermediaries. On average, it took 1.3 days to operationalize each additional village in the first year and 0.6 days in the second year, a 2-fold gain in the efficiency of our own work.

As Digital Green system has scaled, we have focused on enhancing the system to support the scope and diversity of stakeholders at the institutional-level partners as well as grassrootslevel communities that we work with. An internal team has been established to refine our training programs to advance the capabilities of the community intermediaries involved in producing videos, mediating video screenings, and capturing farmerlevel feedback to sustain participation and adoption levels over time. We also initiated an effort to improve upon our quality assurance framework by building on our primary objective of improving the efficiency of our partners' existing extension operations using our technology and social organization based model to now evaluate the ultimate productivity and income improvement that the content and our approach provide to the farmers that we work with. In a preliminary assessment with two partners, PRADAN and VARRAT, in Orissa, we found that the classical extension systems that these NGOs operated had a cost per adoption of US$ 10-18 whereas the Digital Green model integrated with their existing extension operations had a cost per adoption US$ 3-4- an improvement of 45 times, per dollar spent. Additionally, a very prelimianry, limited sample analysis found that in the first 8 months in which the Digital Green system had been deployed resulted in an average cumulative increase in incomes of US$ 242 per farmer in one cluster of villages in Orissa. We have planned a more rigorous evaluation of the efficiency and efficacy of the Digital Green both internally as well as in collaboration with researchers from Innovations for Poverty Action, Yale University, and University of California, Berkeley using multiintervention, randomized controlled trial methods for the next phase of our work.

We continue to iteratively develop our standard operating procedures (SOPs) framework based on the learnings and experiences that we have with each partner and each community. The SOPs essentially frame the technology and social organizational components of the Digital Green system - from topic identification to video production to dissemination to feedback analysis - which ensure coherence and consistency in the processes and outcomes of the model while allowing for locally appropriate adaptation. We have also refined our backend technology stack to better capture and analyze progress data and farmer feedback from areas that have limited to no electricity and Internet connectivity through a combination of paper-, phone-, and web-based channels. We have identified four areas in our work that require particular focus: partnership management, impact assessment, quality assurance, and sustainability. Internal teams have been constituted to investigate each of these areas by surveying our existing work across partners and geographies and capturing the challenges and learnings that we have had till date. A combination of small-scale pilots and reflection exercises are then used to develop our capabilities in each area. We have also strengthened our organizational capacity with an expanded board of directors, improved personnel policies and procedures, and a robust financial management policy.

We also received a two-year, US$ 200k learning and planning grant from the Ford Foundation to assess how farmers might individually access the content produced across our network of partners and communities as mobile data connectivity expands in rural areas and the ability of mobile phones to create and share rich media content improves. We are working with a manufacturer in India to develop and employ a mobile device that combines the functionality of a cell phone, camera, and pico projector that is currently priced at US$ 135. We envision that such a device could replace the standalone pico projectors that we currently use within the next 5 years and that the price point could reduce to a level that would be affordable to a larger fraction of rural consumers.