MEAS Case study # 7: Digital Green
Lessons Learned from Locally Produced Videos – the Approach of Digital Green in India
The mission of Digital Green is to increase the productivity of smallholder farmers by making agricultural extension services more effective. To do this, the organization partners with NGO and government extension agencies to provide training, data management and support services. Their approach centers on supporting the production and dissemination of locally produced videos about low-cost and high-productivity farming methods. In collaboration with partners and local communities, farming needs are assessed and farmers trained in producing videos that address the identified needs through sharing best practices.
The case study (available for download to the right) details five lessons learned in working with local stakeholders to provide extension services through alternative methods. These lessons include:
Stay flexible, stay relevant
An effective extension program has the flexibility to adapt its messaging to meet the needs of farmers operating in different contexts. Extension agents, no matter how expert, may not have sufficient location-specific knowledge about all of the diverse agricultural contexts they serve. Video-led extension allows for the low-cost creation of videos that are tailored to local conditions.
High quality local partnerships matter
Local partners who are familiar with the target farmers and their social and agricultural contexts are essential. No amount of research can replace the years of trust and learning about the social and agricultural dynamics of a site that local extension organizations can provide.
It’s not just what you’re saying, it’s also who says it
Even in the context of a highly localized intervention, the messenger matters. Divisions of caste, class, tribe, religion, gender or language can prevent an otherwise appropriate message from hitting home if the farmers don’t think it applies to them.
Programs that encourage farmer-to-farmer learning help to reduce the social distance between the messenger and the recipient. Based on higher rates of adoption of practices delivered by fellow farmers, Digital Green developed its current approach to agricultural intervention.
More information helps make better decisions
By lowering the costs of collecting data and improving its reliability, new information and communications technologies have reduced many impediments to monitoring the agricultural practices of farmers. This data can be used to validate project impacts and to inform future program design: highly granular data makes it easier to track intervention outputs and make tailored changes.
Technology isn’t a silver bullet
Video is a powerful tool that can help amplify the effectiveness of extension programs by facilitating communication with farmers. But it should be viewed as just that – a tool – and not a replacement for the hard work of knowing the people being served and delivering high quality, accurate content. Moreover, technology can also hinder programmatic effectiveness if it is not tailored to the social and organizational contexts in which it is used.