In 2012, we initiated our partnership with Govt. of India’s flagship project National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), integrating Digital Green’s approach with NRLM’s existing extension systems. We have exceeded the mandate of reaching 10,000 villages and one million farmers by reaching over 12,000 villages and over 1.1 million farmers across 10 states through approximately 3,000 participatory community videos. The focus of this project was to improve the efficiency of agriculture and livelihood interventions by promoting relevant best practices around agriculture and livelihood, non-farm practices, financial inclusion, and institution building. We’ve been able to exceed our objective that half of the farmers reached adopt one or more of the practices shown in the videos they’ve watched by reaching an adoption rate of 56%.
This project enabled us to work closely with the state rural livelihood missions and partners in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Odisha. The success of this project can also be measured by the strong buy-in among State partners many of whom have now mainstreamed the approach within their extension strategy. Most partners have now also extended its use beyond agriculture to also include livestock management, health and nutrition, value chain, etc.
In addition, the program has been strengthening farmer extension services via digital tools and innovations such as IVR, Training Courseware, satellite-based yield estimation, market access, digital payments, self-service tools, and nutrition-sensitive agriculture. Digital Green has partnered with Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, Govt of Andhra Pradesh to test these tools, measure their efficacy as well as cost-effectiveness and scale these for front line cadre as well as farmers in the state.
You can find the various papers and case studies from this project here:
Project Samvad, is a five-year, USAID-funded project that promotes a participatory approach, using locally relevant content created by, of and for the communities in which we work. Digital Green applies its video-enabled approach to peer-to-peer learning, addressing Family Planning, Maternal Child Health and Nutritional goals.
We use 360 degree communication approach to reach the target populations with focused nutrition messaging. Through this project, we aim to reach 300,000 women across five Indian states, and indirectly engage over 1,000,000 individuals by 2020. Since its inception and until September 2017, the project has reached a total of 162,900 women in 2,416 villages across Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha.
Loop is a human-mediated mobile phone application that is increasing smallholder farmers’ income and reducing their costs by improving their access to markets and market information and increasing their negotiating power. Funding from Cisco has helped us refine Loop to increase its efficiency and return on investment to farmers, and propel it toward financial sustainability and widespread replicability. Since we launched Loop in Bihar in January 2016, more than 3000 farmers in 110 villages have used Loop to sell 6000 tons of vegetables, recording more than $1 million in cash transactions.
In 2017, we expanded Loop to the state of Maharashtra, India, with support from British Asian Trust, and in Bangladesh, as part of the Feed the Future Developing Local Extension Capacity project.
An award from Goldman Sachs helped speed Loop’s development
Maternal and child undernutrition is one of the world’s most serious health, economic, and human development challenges, and its prevalence remains unacceptably high in South Asia. Through a series of pilots and projects, Digital Green has adapted its Community Videos solution to health and nutrition–and particularly to promote maternal, infant, and young child nutrition (MIYCN) behaviors and practices.
Building on a set of promising pilot and feasibility studies, Digital Green will be conducting a four-year, three-arm, cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) to assess the impact and cost-effectiveness of two variations of interventions we have used to improve agricultural and nutrition outcomes. The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) will lead the project, which will evaluate the efficacy of (1) an agriculture extension intervention that combines low-cost participatory videos and facilitated discussions with women’s groups and (2) the same intervention combined with social and behavior change communication (SBCC) for MICYN. These two groups will be compared against a control group, which does not receive either of the aforementioned interventions, but may receive standard agriculture, health, and nutrition related training provided by the Government or other organizations. The findings and recommendations generated from this rigorous evaluation will be instrumental in guiding Digital Green’s program implementation strategy in the future, and valuable for other stakeholders and organizations working to improve nutritional outcomes.
Digital Green is partnering with the Mann Deshi Foundation Farm to pilot and launch Loop in the Maharashtra state to increase smallholder farmers’ income by increasing their access to markets. The Loop program uses technology to create greater market access and improve transaction efficiency for farmers at a few targeted, key points in the value chain–which results in higher net earnings for farmers.
We will be working with the Mann Deshi Foundation’s Farm to Market Project to expand Loop to smallholders in the Satara district. Additionally, we will be replicating Loop in high vegetable-producing belts. Over the duration of this project, we aim to reach 50 villages, and at least 1,000 farmers–and, throughout the project, we will learn and iterate with our partners and other stakeholders to identify opportunities to maximize the impact of Loop on farmers’ livelihoods.
Using a web-based learning and assessment platform, we train farmers as community knowledge workers (CKWs), enabling them to educate other farmers on practices to boost their productivity and nutrition behaviors. This education takes place through videos produced by farmers and for farmers; the CKWs disseminate the videos to other farmers would stand to benefit from this knowledge. Our training courseware, made possible by funding from Oracle, includes both offline and online components, using a combination of practical instructional videos and a mobile training application that guides trainers and assesses the mastery level of CKWs. Learn more about these tools here.
Through this project, Digital Green aims to train 7,000 farmers as community knowledge workers (CKWs) through a web-based learning and accreditation platform. CKWs are at the frontline of the India’s National Rural Livelihoods Mission, and play a critical role in disseminating knowledge on locally relevant agricultural best practices, health, and nutrition. The new blended training course will enable a greater number of CKWs to participate (with fewer resources)–and the CKWs will in turn train farmers in their communities on locally relevant agricultural best practices, using videos produced by farmers and for farmers.
These CKWs are expected to reach 850,000 farmers in their communities, helping them to boost their productivity by 20 percent and reduce the cost of cultivation by 15 percent — ultimately increasing their socioeconomic well-being in a sustainable manner.
Following a successful pilot with Strengthening Partnerships, Research, and Innovations in Nutrition (SPRING) to adapt Digital Green’s approach to promote maternal, infant, and young child nutrition (MIYCN) behaviors and practices in 2013, the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council Grand Challenges (BIRAC) funded a subsequent project to build on lessons learned through IFPRI’s evaluation of the initial pilot. The BIRAC-supported project explored how the Digital Green / SPRING approach could be modified to increase adoption of MIYCN recommended practices.
We partnered with the Voluntary Association for Rural Reconstruction and Appropriate Technology (VARRAT) to implement the project in the same region–working with 112 women’s self-help groups in 30 villages across Odisha. We also worked with Ekjut, a civil society organization, to design a structured participatory learning and action (PLA) approach to engage the women in the information being disseminated. Through a randomized controlled trial, we tested both Digital Green’s existing approach and the newly designed PLA approach, and found that participants in both groups demonstrated significant increases in nutrition knowledge. This study led to the design and funding of a four-year, three arm, cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) to assess the impact and cost-effectiveness of the program approaches piloted in the BIRAC project on agricultural and nutrition outcomes.
To learn more about the RCT you can find the full results here.
In 2012, the USAID-funded Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project launched a collaboration with Digital Green and the Voluntary Association for Rural Reconstruction and Appropriate Technology (VARRAT) to assess whether Digital Green’s approach–which had been focused on adoption of agricultural practices–could be adapted to promote maternal, infant, and young child nutrition (MIYCN) behaviors and practices.
Digital Green worked with SPRING and VARRAT to implement a 12-month pilot across 30 villages in Odisha, which sought to develop local NGO capacity in MIYCN and to produce and disseminate 10 videos featuring MIYCN practices. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) conducted a study to examine the feasibility of using the new Digital Green/SPRING approach to promote adoption of MIYCN behaviors during the course of the pilot. The study found that the approach was highly promising, as the videos proved to be one of the key sources of nutrition-related information within the communities, and demand for them was high among the project’s target audience (women in self-help groups) and frontline workers. The full report can be access here. The results of the pilot and feasibility study led to a subsequent project in Odisha to advance IFPRI’s recommendations, and later inspired additional SPRING / Digital Green collaborations in additional geographies. The full report of the pilot and feasibility study can be found here.
With support from the Ford Foundation, Digital Green implemented a series of pilots to better understand opportunities and challenges related to rural internet connectivity and social media. In 15 villages in the Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh, we conducted an internet access pilot, in which 15 farmers were chosen to receive mobile projector phones and SIM cards so that they could select, screen, and lead discussions about community-produced videos. During the pilot, the farmers screened 26 videos during 433 disseminations, which engaged approximately 1,888 viewers and resulted in 400 new practice adoptions.
Digital Green also experimented with the use of social media by developing new platforms to facilitate learning and sharing of agricultural knowledge (through Farmerbook, a Facebook for farmers), and to connect urban populations with the agricultural lifestyle (through a Facebook game called Wonder Village). Farmerbook enabled Digital Green and partner organizations to learn about video-viewing and practice adoptions of the individuals within their groups, and to identify the most influential farmers within a given area. With enhanced perspective on how farmers could (and would) use mobile platforms if they had better internet connectivity, Digital Green organized a knowledge-sharing workshop focused on leveraging mobile platforms for rural social networks, with the aim of collectively working to establish more regular dialogue with government and telecommunications operators to increase mobile network penetration and bandwidth in rural areas, and especially in tribal communities.